in Washington DC offers legendary American stories
in every nook and cranny.
Hotel reviews are some of our most favored posts here on Nest by Tamara. Seems appropriate to write these reviews since staying at a quality hotel is quintessential nesting but with room service, a stocked mini bar and often needed pampering. When we took a trip to Washington DC for the swearing in of our family friend to the Congress, we decided to make it a fun history lesson. First choice was to stay at one of the most historic hotels in town, the Willard Hotel with gorgeous Beaux-Arts architecture. The hotel was one of the first structures on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and part of six small houses built by Colonel John Tayloe III in 1816. The Willard Hotel was founded by Henry Willard from Vermont who leased the building in 1847 and combined them into one structure, then enlarged, decorated and renamed it the Willard Hotel. For more than 150 years the Willard has hosted almost every U.S. president in history since Franklin Pierce in 1853. Our tour guide event told us stories of Reverend Martin Luther King writing his famous "I have a dream" speech in the lobby, and after reading it walked the mall returning as a guest of the hotel. Visiting DC can be invigorating and reinforces the passion our forefathers had for building our nation. The Willard Hotel is at the epicenter of many of the legendary stories. In the cozy and famous Round Robin Scotch Bar you can almost hear age old conversations from Abraham Lincoln days where many shared libations.
Franklin Pierce departing the hotel to give his inaugural speech, 1853; photo via Wikipedia
There are stories of Ulysses S. Grant drinking whiskey and smoking cigars while conducting business with those who waited for him in the lobby. Many notable figures have stayed as guest from Charles Dickens and Bob Fosse to Walt Whitman. Legend has it Mark Twain even wrote two books while staying at the hotel in the early 1900s.
Hanging in the lobby with Abraham Lincoln
"Lincoln became a hotel guest shortly before his first inauguration as president in 1861. He arrived abruptly on February 23 after an assassination plot in Baltimore changed his travel plans. He was joined soon after by his wife and sons, remaining until his inauguration on March 4".
Although the rooms show a bit of their age (there was water damage on the ceiling in our room), they are also quite charming with very comfortable beds, and the hotel is perfectly situated only two blocks away from the White House. The hotel has 335 guestrooms, several dining options, and an Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa on the premises. The service may not have been the finest we've ever experienced, but the staff made up for it with their cheerfulness and consistently greeted us with friendly smiles. After much walking and site seeing it was a pleasure to return to this welcoming hotel. We would certainly stay again. Beginning a visit to this historic city at the Willard, sets you on the right foot.
The Washington Monument (left);
The Lincoln Memorial (right) is my favorite!
the detailed and hand painted ceiling of the Capitol (left)
Randy posing with his doppelganger U.S. Grant (right) a frequent guest of the Willard Hotel in his day.