If the walls of the recently reopened The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. could talk, they would whisper something to the effect of “welcome back to Washington’s finest address.” Or maybe “unapologetically luxurious” — the historic hotel’s new tagline.
The Watergate debuted this week following a nine-year, $125 million renovation to restore the property. The result is a splashy contemporary reimagining of the original mid-century architecture — intended to resemble a sail on the Potomac — designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1961. Designer Ron Arad and Italian designer Moroso bore the burden of complementing the avant-garde architecture and restoring some of hotel’s original structures such as the staircase and indoor pool, while architectural and interior design firm BBGM served as the architect for the project.
Incidentally, “if these walls could talk” is an apt phrase for the landmark property. The luxury hotel was once the site of the famous break-in at the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel and Office building in 1972 that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
The newly re-imagined Watergate has chosen to play up that scandalous history with touches such as pens that say “stolen from The Watergate Hotel” and room key cards that read “No Need to Break In.” Retro elements — like the staff uniforms designed by Mad Men designer Janie Bryant — also pay homage to the Watergate complex as a favorite stomping ground for Washington’s most powerful and Hollywood’s most beautiful (Elizabeth Taylor was a fan) during its heydey in the 60s and 70s. These hallmarks are playful nods to the hotel’s notorious yet glamorous past, and its enduring mystique.
Rooms with a View
Rakel Cohen, senior vice president of design and development for Euro Capital Properties — the developer and owner of the hotel — says the goal is to turn The Watergate into Washington, D.C.’s top luxury hotel again. His team may have succeeded, simply by way of the Watergate’s 336 guest rooms — 95% of which boast views of the Potomac River. Half of the rooms also have balconies.
The most exclusive and expensive rooms in the hotel include six Diplomat Suites, 24 premier suites and two stately Presidential Suites. All of the guest rooms, according to a press release, feature “soothing color palettes along with plush bedding, floor-to-ceiling Zebrano marble bathrooms with solid granite vanities, superior in-room amenities, 24-hour in-room dining, cutting edge technology, diffusers featuring the hotel’s signature Red Flower Oakwood scent and more.” Special opening rates start at $255.20/night for a limited time.
Urban Resort Experience
Travelers to the new Watergate will find amenities on par with five-star resorts. Gastronomy and libations on the property, all overseen by Executive Chef Michael Santoro, include: Kingbird, a dual-concept restaurant with an ingredient-driven American cuisine with a French twist; The Next Whisky Bar, seamlessly carved into the lobby, stands vertical with an undulating wall of custom whisky bottles featuring labels sculpted and stamped out of metal, bathing the space in a bronze glow; and Top of the Gate, a palatial rooftop with 360-degree views of the Potomac River, Capitol and Washington Monument that will open this summer.
There’s also a 12,000 square-foot spa opening in early summer, and of course, the 27,000 square feet of meeting and function space with 11 flexible indoor/outdoor spaces. An a new grand ballroom, spanning 7,000 square feet, includes the addition of state-of-the-art technology, LED light panels and a statement wall built from Gucci marble along with an additional 10,000 square feet of outdoor space overlooking the Potomac.
Scandalous or not, it’s clear: luxury at The Watergate Hotel lives on.