By Mary Gallagher
As the center of American history, no place better illustrates the pride of America than in Washington, D.C. History abounds and the many charming historic hotels offer a special treat allowing us to stay where presidents, kings, queens, movie and stage stars plus other notable guests have resided.
Whatever reason brings you to the nation’s capital, you can treat yourself or family to luxurious, well appointed accommodations, award-winning dining, a safe environment, all near to the many attractions offered in my favorite U.S. city.
Recently I spent a splendid night at the newly renovated St. Regis Hotel conveniently located at the intersection of 16th and K Streets within easy walking distance of many outstanding and favorite restaurants of mine. This area is lively with city parks surrounding the site including Lafayette Park, a favorite for all kinds demonstrations by the White House.
The St. Regis Washington, D.C. first opened its doors in October, 1926 as the Carlton Hotel. Henry Wardman, Washington’s most successful real estate developer, wished to create a sophisticated establishment that would surpass the era’s very best European luxury hotels.
During the late 1930’s, the Carlton became the residence of Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who transacted much of the Governments business at the hotel. To this day, the Carlton (St. Regis) is popular with Washington’s political elite for high level diplomatic meetings, glamorous social galas and several inaugural banquets.
During the 1950’s, President Truman was a constant fixture at the hotel and Ronald Reagan was a regular visitor to the hotel’s barber, Milson Pitts, who cut the hair of several presidents.
The hub of the capitol’s social scene, the hotel welcomed Joan Crawford, Jacqueline Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Cher and countless other luminaries time and again. During World War Two, Howard Hughes kept a permanent suite at the Carlton that he made available at no cost to uniformed servicemen during his absence.
In December 1987, the Carlton shut its doors for an extensive 16 million dollar renovation, re-opening on October 2, 1988, its 62nd birthday. The renovation enlarged guest rooms, as well as enhancing bathrooms and improving the hotel’s communications infrastructure.
In 1999, after 73 years as the Carlton Hotel, the property assumed a new mantle as The St. Regis Washington, D.C. becoming the first hotel to share the legendary St. Regis name with the flagship New York hotel.
Then again in December 2007, the St. Regis Washington, D.C. re-opened following a landmark 16 month renovation to become again the capitol’s most luxurious hotel. The renovation provided a complete makeover of every guest room and all public areas, including the lobby, ballroom, St. Regis Athletic Club and meeting rooms as well as the Astor Terrace.
The big news in 2008, is the exciting new signature restaurant Adour by Chef Alain Ducasse opening in August and the 5,000 square foot St. Regis Designer Spa.
Chef Alain Ducasse is one of the world’s most decorated chefs and the only one to have owned and operated three signature restaurants each honored with three Michelin stars. As the force behind Adour, Ducasse will be using his expertise, developed over the past 25 years, in the art of good living and eating. This exciting news will keep food critics and gourmands buzzing ceaselessly.
The restaurant features a contemporary design while highlighting many of the original historic features including the landmark ceiling. The modern décor beautifully complements the newly restored hotel and creates an innovative interior that evokes the St. Regis signatures of elegance and luxury.
Adour is named after the river in southwest France near where Alain Ducasse was born. Masterfully utilizing the freshest seasonal ingredients from the best American suppliers, Adour’s menu will feature elegant cuisine, rich textures and new flavors complemented by a diverse wine collection. Guests can enjoy a contemporary French American cuisine for both lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as breakfast.
During my visit earlier this year, Adour was still in stages of construction and I had a full breakfast in the elegant surroundings of the Chandelier Room, located a few steps down from the Lobby. Over the years I’ve attended many meetings and conferences at the St. Regis and the staff have always been superb particularly the doormen and valets making ones first contact with the hotel a positive experience.
Located in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. on K Street, The St. Regis Washington, D.C. offers a vantage point to the capital’s premier destinations. A quick two blocks from the White House, the Renwick Gallery and Corcoran Gallery of Art, two diverse museums.
Washington DC is a great walking city, a clean, safe, simple to use convenient subway system and a plentiful supply of cabs.