DC’s 1950s Dupont Circle Hotel is a den for sophisticates with all the style (but thankfully, none of the psychodrama) of those modish mid-century Mad Men. Don’t be fooled by the hotel's unassuming exteriors; a swing through its revolving doors will reveal Don Draper-worthy decor masterminded by acclaimed Irish designer Clodagh, whose signature brand of life-enhancing minimalism hits every beat. A litany of funked-up nooks, cocooning crannies – not to mention the enviable private art collection of owner Bernie Gallagher – imbue communal spaces with the intimacy of a members club, while rooms offer more holistic surrounds with soothing, earthy tones drenched in natural light. Wine and dine in the eye-popping Pembroke restaurant designed by Martin Brudnizki or hunker down in Doyle, hisclandestine cocktail bar, where a cosmopolitan coterie can be found sipping Old Fashioneds way into the small hours.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £196.80 ($250), including tax at 15.95 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but á la carte and on-the-move options are available from the Pembroke restaurant and Doyle & Co. coffee shop.
Throughout the hotel you’ll find a selection of art works from the personal collection of owner Bernie Gallagher, one of the largest art collectors in Ireland, which includes sculptures by John Behan and photographs by the enfant terrible of American cinema, Dennis Hopper.
The Parkview Suite makes for a fine city break with views over leafy Dupont Circle Park, a grey marble ensuite with a deep soaking bath and a spacious, cream living area with black and gold accents. Junior Suites are more suited to families, with connecting rooms for extra sleeping space. Crowning the ninth floor, however, you’ll find the creme de la creme of DC dwellings; the Grand Penthouse Suite is a headliner worth splurging on with floor-to-ceiling windows, two roomy bedrooms and a heated, wrap-around terrace with majestic city views.
While there’s no spa, active types can take advantage of the 24-hour gym kitted-out with cardio bikes, treadmills, functional and suspension training equipment and a selection of dumbbells, exercise balls and kettlebells.
Save suitcase space for some presidential purchases – the run of handsome Connecticut Avenue is home to plenty of independent boutiques.
All of the hotel’s entrances and communal spaces are street-level with no steps or access ramps required. There are 15 specially ADA-designed rooms spread across each floor, all accessible by elevator.
Extra beds and cots are available upon request in larger room types. The concierge can also arrange babysitting as well as the rental of strollers and playpens for an extra charge.
Sure thing. Single-use plastics are hard to come by in this (gold status accredited for green tourism) hotel and energy is conserved through state-of-the-art cooling and heating systems. The hotel’s restaurant also works with local producers, and constantly renews menus based on what’s in season.
In Pembroke, watch the world go by from the coral pink banquette seats near the window. In Doyle, turn up the romance in one of the many cosy corners.
Accessories make the man; go all-in with club collars, winged oxfords and pop-colour pocket squares. Ladies, take inspiration from off-duty Jackie O with statement silk headscarves, bulky belts and oversized sunnies for coffee on the terrace.
With glam good looks and contemporary cuisine, the Pembroke is a firm favourite among Dupont’s brunch brigade. Steered by former Le Ben Fin chef Michael Sammour (who formerly oversaw the culinary operations at Marvel Studios), the menu features a diverse array of dishes from all over the globe. Glossy marble tables, velvet coral banquettes and playful artworks set the scene for freshly shucked oysters, farm fresh salads (take your pick from blue cheese, baby beets or Ceasar) and Maryland colossal crab cake to be followed by homemade pasta or hearty entrees like Veal Milanese or lamb shank tagine. On weekends, don’t miss the famous brioche French toast soaked in Grand Marnier and topped with brown sugar and berries. Little Smiths are well catered for, too, with half-portions of pasta and a kids’ menu of bento-box mains. And if your itinerary won’t allow for a sit-down lunch, Doyle & Co coffee shop serves up a range of fresh muffins, croissants and specialty quiche to eat on the go.
Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki is the maximalist mastermind behind Doyle, Dupont Circle’s clandestine cocktail bar inspired by mid-century glamour and the pin-sharp sartorial schema of the 1950s. The Gatsby-esque interiors are clad in dark wood panelling with midnight blue bar stools, colourfully upholstered banquette seating and an abundance of abstract eye candy. In the chillier months, cosy-up fireside with a creamy espresso martini, or, come summer, take a refreshing gin and tonic on the terrace: Irish gin. And as an Irish-owned hotel, you can bet on a proper Guinness, too.
Breakfast runs from 7am to 11am weekdays (9am weekends) and dinner all week from 5:30pm to 10pm. Brunch is served on weekends between 9am till 2:30pm. Doyle mixes its last cocktail at 11pm Sunday to Wednesday and midnight Thursday to Saturday.
Order executive edibles and congressional cocktails from the 24-hour room service menu.
A mile from the White House, the historical Dupont neighbourhood is one of the greener, more local DC districts with leafy streets, colourful townhouses and a lively mix of coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
Ronald Reagan National Airport is 15 minutes from the hotel by car, with flights arriving from all over the USA. Likewise, at northbound BWI Airport, domestic travellers can reach the hotel in just under an hour. International travellers are better served by Washington Dulles, 30 minutes away. Transfers can be arranged from all three airports, prices vary.
Union Station train station is a 30-minute walk from the hotel, though the Dupont Circle metro station is just one block away and is served by the city’s red line.
The hotel's garage, operated by a third party, is located directly beneath the hotel. The garage is open 24 hours a day for valet parking only and costs $55 per night (excluding taxes).
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve sufficiently caffeinated at Doyle & Co coffee shop, it’s time to take to the streets of America’s Executive City. Start at the adjacent Dupont Circle Park, where you’ll find a farmers market each Sunday, and special events come summer (annual high heel drag queen race, anyone?), or pop into neighbouring Kramers, one of the city’s oldest bookstores. Next, head north to the Phillips Collection, America’s first contemporary art museum which includes Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party and a characteristically atmospheric Rothko room. From there, take a stroll to Georgetown and get lost among the Federal style architecture, riverside promenade and boutique-lined cobblestone streets. Heading South, you’ll pass the imposing Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and – of course – a certain White House. Be sure to pay a visit to the Smithsoniancomplex while you’re in town, where a mind-boggling 19 museums, and the national zoo, await; walk through halls of historic portraits at the National Portrait Gallery or get cosmic at theNational Air and Space Museum. And, if your intergalactic exploration has left you dizzy, come right back down to earth at Rock Creek Park, a beckoning oasis of hiking and biking trails, Civil War fortifications, working mills and colonial houses.
The hotel is well placed for wining and dining, with many of the city’s most notable restaurants within walking distance – plus the diversity of cuisine on offer means you’ll never get bored. Blend with the regulars at Japanese joint Rakuya, a low-key sushi spot where Masaru Homma’s energetic kitchen churns out a broad roster of bite-size rolls along with broths, bentos and a selection of meaty entrees. At Iron Gate, you’ll find a menu inspired by the gastronomic delights of Greece and Italy with dishes like Atlantic swordfish Kalamaki with cured olive, chilli, pistachio, saffron and fennel salad or caramelised ricotta gnocchi with Calabrian chilli, cherry tomatoes and torn basil. Our top tip? Opt for a table in the outdoor courtyard, where the firepit will be warming your seat. For something all-American (we’re in the Capital, after all) head to Annabelle where art deco interiors and a carefully curated wine list make a perfect pair, and with a menu handcrafted by former White House chef Frank Ruta, you can be sure that provisions are profoundly presidential.
Ever since John Adams denounced tea as unpatriotic, DC has been a hotspot for coffee lovers. A hop skip and a jump from the hotel’s front door, Emissary fosters day-to-night fika vibes with Pergamino roasts, mean Colombian arepas and even a selection of local craft beer.
For those evenings where you can’t quite pin down your mood, Eighteenth Street Lounge is a safe bet. This converted townhouse sports five separate areas, each with its own niche – dance floors in one, jazz in another, and outdoor space for those who prefer some fresh air with their fizz, too. Nearby Georgetown is littered with high-end cocktail joints and prohibition-era pubs, as well as more unusual hangouts like Pinstripes where craft beers and local wine goes hand in hand with bowling and bocce. Though if you’re not feeling particularly active, you’ll do fine sipping Italian Margaritas (that’s don julio silver tequila, Meletti limoncello, sour mix and a splash of pomegranate) from the outdoor patio.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this effortlessly chic hotel in Dupont Circle and unpacked their Smithsonian postcards and all-American Bourbon, a full account of their presidential break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington DC…
Politics and power might define DC’s Executive city; but you won’t find much of that at Dupont Circle Hotel, a cool and cultured retreat with a voguish, members club feel. Inside, Irish designer Clodagh has drummed up airy rooms and communal spaces inspired by her childhood in the West of the Emerald Isle (think earthy palettes, cosy fireplaces, slatted windows and brass-accented bookcases) while Martin Brudnizki has set his eclectic style loose on the hotel’s bar and restaurant. There’s no shortage of pizzazz to be found at the popular-with-locals Pembroke, where Marlon Rambaran’s menu trots joyfully round the world amid glossy tables, salmon pink banquette seating, striped flooring and pearl-drop chandeliers. Nor in Doyle, the Mad Men style bar brimming with mid-century detail. Situated in the leafy heart of Dupont Circle, the hotel occupies a sweet spot away from the bustle of downtown, but close enough to all the city’s sights. Though, if it’s art you’re after, you needn’t go far – Dupont Circle is decked with paintings and sculptures specially selected from the private collection of owner Bernie Gallagher.