Washington, D.C. has always been a special place for my family and me. Since I can first remember, we traveled there at least twice a year to visit relatives, see the sights, and immerse ourselves in the history, art, and culture of the United States of America.
During a recent business trip, my partner and I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC (1330 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. Tel: 202-554-8588. www.mandarinoriental.com/washington).
Located in the city center, close to the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, and the extraordinary museums along the National Mall, the hotel is perfectly situated for both leisure and business travelers.
If you plan on visiting between midMarch and early-April, book your accommodations early as this is the time of year Washington celebrates the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The cherry trees that line the hotel’s garden were planted by the family of Yukio Ozaki, the mayor of Tokyo who gifted the original 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. in 1912, and which famously blossom each spring along the adjacent Tidal Basin and attract tens of thousands of tourists.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit, the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC is a sanctuary of casual elegance for travelers from around the world. The hotel features 373 rooms and 53 suites, and recently debuted their newly renovated guest rooms.
“Our guests are well-traveled, sophisticated, and passionate about design, and that is why they choose to stay with Mandarin Oriental. The restyled guest rooms will provide them with a seamless luxury experience complemented by delightful amenities that offer productive comfort,” says General Manager Adriaan Radder.
During our stay, we booked a suite with a private balcony overlooking the National Marina. Providing a luxurious residential experience, the stylish décor by Kent Interior Design, Inc. is accented by shades of celadon and blue that play off earth tones and the dark wood furnishings. Subtle wall coverings, and elegantly upholstered headboard and media wall, along with lush carpets and drapery contribute to the serene atmosphere, while the hotel’s Asian heritage is reflected in the exquisite details throughout the room. The mini-bar is discreetly hidden in a custom Asian-inspired cabinet and features snack items from Dean & Deluca.
As soon as we unpacked, we headed to the fully equipped fitness center for a workout, and then a swim in the 50-foot indoor swimming pool. If you want to totally relax and rejuvenate while you are here, visit the spa for some proper pampering. Featuring eight treatment rooms, a beauty suite, Zen relaxation area, separate gentlemen’s and ladies’ lounges, an amethyst steam room, sauna, vitality pool, ice fountain, and cold plunge pool, this is an ideal urban oasis.
Feeling energetic and revitalized, we decided to explore the city and experience something new. Washington, D.C. is one of the most diverse and welcoming cities in the world, and their official travel website (www.washington.org/lgbtq) is a great resource for everything to see, do, taste, and enjoy in our nation’s capital. After browsing the myriad option listed, we decided to head to the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which is filled with bistros, bars, unique shops, and museums, as well as other gay-owned businesses.
Art lovers should make sure to set aside time for First Friday Dupont (www.firstfridaydupont.org). Each first Friday around Dupont Circle, galleries, embassies, retailers, and historic houses stay open late for an art walk.
A longstanding Dupont Circle tradition, this monthly event offers people the ability to connect with modern and contemporary art by national and international artists with a special emphasis on local and up and coming artists. Enter the heart of D.C.’s art scene the first Friday of every month from 6-8 P .M. With more than a dozen galleries and attractions within walking distance, including The Phillips Collection, First Friday Dupont covers D.C.’s burgeoning art scene. Afterward, stroll down Connecticut Avenue or over to P Street and you’ll find that Dupont Circle is home to some of D.C’s finest restaurants.
If you are a proponent of organic food, make sure to reserve a table at Restaurant Nora (www.noras.com), the country’s first certified-organic restaurant, serving seasonal cuisine for dinner. Located in a 19th-century carriage house in the Dupont Circle area, Nora is a great choice for anyone interested in enjoying fine food in comfortable, informal setting. The menu changes daily, based on the season and what local farmers have available. There are a wide variety of tasty options, which always include a vegetarian choice, together with an award-winning wine list from boutique vineyards.
The next morning, we got up early to take care of some last-minute business and to plan our weekend in D.C. We always recommend that when our readers book their accommodations they upgrade to include access to executive lounges or clubs. At the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC, if you book a Club Room or Suite you will have access to a wide variety of amenities and services. Located on the hotel’s eighth floor, The Club Lounge is a private space for guests to work, relax, and socialize. As a Club guest, you will enjoy special amenities such as European breakfast, all-day snacks, a nightly selection of dim sum paired with their specially curated sake program, craft beers, and wines. Club guests also have access to a private meeting room, late check out, and chauffeured car service from 5-8 P .M. within a twomile radius of the hotel.
After breakfast in the Club, we went into the private meeting room to discuss upcoming LGBT events that Passport magazine will be covering in upcoming issues. Included in those events is the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (www.nglcc.org), NGLCC National Dinner, to be held on Friday, November 17, 2017 at the architecturally stunning National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Each year, this signature event is dedicated to celebrating leading LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs, corporations, supplier diversity advocates, and government and community leaders.
As we often like to combine business and pleasure, we asked a couple of our colleagues to join us for cocktails at Empress Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC, the hotel’s beautiful and relaxing lounge and outdoor terrace for drinks and light fare. Offering signature cocktails, wines, and spirits, they serve tea and coffee as well as a selection of delicious savory and sweet treats. You can also enjoy Afternoon Tea here with a selection of fine teas from around the world, together with sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Afternoon Tea service is available Friday-Sunday from 2:30-4:30 P .M. (24 hour advance reservations required).
As it was Saturday, we decided to make it a date night and enjoy dinner in the hotel at Muze. Blending contemporary design with scenic waterfront views of the Washington Channel, Muze offers an alluring ambiance in which to indulge in modern American cuisine with an Asian twist. Muze’s distinctive interior features dark wood banquets, floor-to-ceiling windows, and dramatic wine cabinets that provide the perfect backdrop for the exquisite and diverse menu, developed under the direction of Executive Chef Adam Tanner and his culinary team.
Showcasing cuisine that reflects an ‘East West Kitchen’ concept, dishes here feature only the finest local produce combined with the distinctive flavors of South East Asia.
We began our meal with the prime beef tartare with shallots, parsley, capers, truffle cream, Parmesan cheese, chives, and grilled crostini, followed by a tom kha soup with chicken, lime, coconut milk, lemongrass, and galangal. Their tartare is one of the best we have ever tasted, and the soup brought back memories of a trip to Phuket, Thailand. For our entrées, we feasted on delectable lemon-crusted salmon with Maine lobster ragout, Manila clams, pickled pearl onions, and celery greens, as well as filet mignon, marble potatoes, bordelaise sauce, and an array of seasonal vegetables.
It was a beautiful night, so we decided to head outside to enjoy our dessert on the seasonal outdoor terrace, with open fire pits, overlooking the hotel’s gardens. We ordered a Mt. Fuji: green tea meringue, yuzu and passion fruit marmalade, lime and yuzu gelee, and aerated white chocolate. Combine this with a glass of your favorite Champagne and you have the perfect finale to a romantic dinner, and a delightfully productive stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC.