Washington, D.C., is an inherently hot travel destination (think White House, Smithsonian museums, Shakespeare Theatre). In recent years, it’s shifted from being solely a place of historical and cultural significance to also a foodie destination, a favorite of shoppers seeking top designer brands and a health nut’s haven.
The growth in the hotel industry here reflects this evolution. The number of hotel rooms in the metropolitan region at the end of 2018 was 114,923, an increase of 13,686 in the past decade, according to Lodging Econometrics. That expansion is set to continue. Destination DC notes that the city has 18 hotels and nearly 4,000 additional rooms in the pipeline. They run the gamut from boutique properties to mammoth structures with convention centers.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row
2100 Massachusetts Ave., NW
The hotel dates to 1920, but its look no longer does. The Fairfax at Embassy Row underwent a nearly yearlong renovation of its lobby space last year, officially unveiling its $10 million makeover in December 2018.
Designed by the acclaimed Rockwell Group, the new lobby features an expansive open reception area, both communal and private spaces, and spacious seating with low tables and a sculptural sofa. The goal, according to the hotel, is to create an elegant but inviting ambience that reflects a sense of place and community.
“The whole lobby area has really been reimagined,” general manager David Hendrix said. “The Fairfax has always been a classic hotel, but being that it was built in the 1920s, the lobby area was really an afterthought at that point. We had a very small space. There wasn’t a lot of space for guest interaction, and the plan was that this would really open the space up and create a day/night atmosphere where you’ve got work during the day and the furniture converts to play at night. You’ve got a pool table that also doubles as a banquet table. You’ve got a ping-pong table that’s used for breakfast setups.”
Besides opening the lobby space and adding seating, the Fairfax also relocated its restaurant from the back to the front and added a seasonal outdoor patio. The new eatery, The SALLY, offers high-end cocktails and liquors, plus small plates with locally sourced products that will change with the seasons. Named for a member of the prominent 18th-century Fairfax family, this stylish dining venue features a marble bar with zinc accents, dark wood floors and an eclectic mix of modern and vintage furniture. There’s also a new market café for grab-and-go bites and drinks.
The changes make it more inviting for guests and passersby alike to stop in for an after-work drink or dinner, Hendrix said. The trick was making the modernization work with the hotel’s historic character. To that end, the hotel’s 259 rooms are still traditionally appointed with high ceilings and crown molding.
“I think we still have a nice combination that our guests seem to enjoy,” Hendrix said.
This article was originally featured in The Washington Diplomat (View Digital Edition)