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The InterContinental Washington DC at The Wharf, which opens this month


Close Encounters

By Michael McCarthy



For autumn weekend getaways, staying local has never been more luxurious.

It’s easy to fall head over stiletto heels in love with the big shiny tower in the biggest, shiniest part of the new waterfront. The tower in question is the InterContinental Washington DC (801 Wharf Street SW, 202.800.0844), the 278-room, 33 suite behemoth that’s part of The Wharf development opening this month. Guests will soon discover this urban resort has lots of gravitas and, stylewise, is nothing like the other InterContinental-branded space in town, the historic and exceptional Willard. Look for a contemporary vibe, with lots of openness and glass in common areas, as well as brilliant touches like Juliette balconies in every other water-facing room. For a weekend splurge, choose the two-story, 2,000-square-foot presidential suite known as The Constellation (from $5,000 per night). Neighborhood diversion: Stroll to The Anthem to see a show, including Erykah Badu (Nov. 18).

Georgetown Royalty
Tending to details is part of the Four Seasons (2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.342.0444) DNA, of course. But the property’s latest offering also delves into the notion of complete privacy. This fall, check into 4,000-square-foot Royal Suite (from $20,000 per night), featuring a private 1,000-square-foot balcony, Swarovski crystal fixtures and macassar ebony wood lining the space. One culinary perk not to miss includes a customized meal prepared in-room by Bourbon Steak’s executive chef Douglas Anderson. The package also includes a couples massage and a visit from the hotel’s tobacconist, Mason Foster, who will introduce guests to outstanding cigars on the outdoor patio. Neighborhood diversion: Eno sits in a gorgeous brownstone a short walk from the hotel’s entrance. Throughout the fall, look for wine lectures and tastings during Enoversity—cheese and chocolate experts also discuss essential party pairings.

The renovated Presidential Suite at the Melrose Georgetown Hotel

Dining to Be Here
When a coveted Michelin star is awarded—and it’s one of the few bestowed in town—gourmands take notice. So, it makes sense that the Jefferson’s (1200 16th St. NW, 202.448.2300) signature resto, Plume, helmed by the classically French-trained chef Ralf Schlegel, has become a hot ticket for high-end dining. The five-star 99-room property already had a lot going for it, including historic bones and deluxe suites (from $1,025, with a food and beverage credit, $150 per day) weighing in at 760 square feet. But Schlegel’s kitchen has become the real lure for weekend sojourns. The prix fixe menu ($102 per person) includes diver sea scallops, lobster gratin, Elysian Fields Farm lamb and a tableside magic show with king salmon temporarily encased in a bento box with Amish bees wax. Oenophiles know the wine list—featuring a 1998 Bordeaux Chateau Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan ($850)—is among the best in the city. Neighborhood diversion: Take in the groundbreaking new exhibit Wild (Oct. 12 to Jan. 12), featuring photography from legendary National Geographic shooter Michael Nichols, at the nearby National Geographic Museum.

Night Moves
The Hay-Adams’ (800 16th St. NW, 202.638.6600) proximity to the White House (those views from the rooftop!) make it a favorite among well-heeled visitors to the District. But for romance, the property’s Monuments by Night package is a natural for locals looking to reconnect as a couple—and to the city—this fall. The weekend includes a two-hour private tour of the city via black sedan (Champagne and a basket of sweets included) and a choice of the Federal or Presidential suites (from $3,479 and $2,979 per night, respectively). Neighborhood diversion: Former White House chef Frank Rita opened Mirabelle last spring, and area gourmands are still swooning. Don’t forget to order one of Aggie Chin’s desserts.

Say Prez
When my wife and I checked into the Melrose Georgetown Hotel (2430 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.955.6400) over the summer, we were whisked to the Presidential Suite ($3,500 per night) with the promise of a perfect evening on the room’s terrace. Well, sure, the expansive deck that overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue is wonderful for hosting a catered soiree with 25 of your closest friends. But when your last guest leaves, the rest of the two-bedroom suite—which was recently renovated, top to bottom—becomes a weekend sanctuary difficult to leave. The interior design mirrors the hotel’s art deco-inspired motif, especially with regal living and dining rooms graced by crystal chandeliers. Neighborhood diversion: Cap off the weekend with a short walk to The Kennedy Center (The Washington Ballet’s Russian Masters, Oct. 8, or The Book of Mormon, Nov. 5).  

Greenhouse dining room at The Jefferson hotel