Just in time for a new administration, not to mention the gradual return to travel, Washington, DC has opened 19 new or renovated hotels in the last year or so, according to the city’s tourism officials. There’s plenty still to come, with 4,000 additional rooms in the pipeline. Projects on the boards for 2022 and 2023 include Gensler’s 200-key retrofit of a historically certified building in Judiciary Square for the Arlo brand; the U.S. debut of Paris-based collection Mob with a 144-key property in the trendy Union Market area; and Pendry’s 131-room hotel at the new mixed-use development the Wharf, with interiors by Toronto-based DesignAgency.
Other new arrivals include a 252-room citizenM from its go-to design team at concrete near Capitol Hill, and London brand Yotel, which enlisted Wimberly Interiors for its retrofit of an old hotel, also in Capitol Hill. These join the region’s third AC Hotel—a 234-key new build with architecture from Fillat+ Architecture and interiors by Rodrigo Vargas Design—and the 231-room Ven from Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio on Embassy Row with Scandinavian-influenced design from Baskervill.
Here, we take a deep dive into five properties remaking the city’s skyline.
Conrad Washington DC
The city is attracting high-end players like Hilton’s luxe Conrad brand, which paved the way for the current wave of development when it opened in 2019 in the luxury mixed-use City Center, featuring distinctive architecture from Swiss heavyweights Herzog & de Meuron, landscape design by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, and interiors from Rottet Studio, with offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York. A recently added rooftop bar takes advantage of all three talents, offering a “relaxed residential experience that pulls up from the gardens and courtyards of the third floor, with boxwoods and manicured plantings,” says principal Lauren Rottet.
Generator Washington DC
Generator, the London-based purveyor of trendsetting hostels, converted a Courtyard by Marriott north of Dupont Circle into its second outpost across the pond (the first is in Miami). Led by Dallas-based Studio 11 Design, the design scheme boasts a palette of plum and mint, brightened with pops of yellow. Firm cofounder Kellie Sirna also imbued the hotel with cheeky references due to its DC location. The 148 guestrooms, for example, feature portraits of presidents that have been doctored with images of bejeweled hands—“for a playful, skeletons-in-the-closet effect,” Sirna says—then scrawled over with graffiti stripes that spill onto the walls. “It turned out to be highly impactful,” she adds.
Joining its sister property the Riggs Washington DC, which opened last year, the Lyle is the second DC entry from London’s Lore Group. In retrofitting a small apartment building, the company’s creative director Jacu Strauss was inspired by “its Art Deco bones that weren’t being celebrated,” he says. He offset the 196-room property’s original assets, like the lobby’s marble floors, with warmer textures such as burled wood headboards, cork panels, and beige Berber carpeting. Strauss designed the bulk of the furniture, as well as painted 50 original canvases that adorn the public areas. The hotel restaurant, Lyle’s, announces itself with a raw clay sign, also courtesy of Strauss. It complements design details including cloud-like pendant lights, white marble tables, and banquettes outfitted in plush white cushions or sleek brown leather.
Yours Truly DC
Further southwest, Yours Truly DC, a 355-room reflag of the former Wink hotel, anchors the mostly residential area. “There’s no coffee shop or retail in your sightline when you step out the door,” says Lisa Simeone, principal of Chicago-based KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group, “so we wanted to make this the hub for the neighborhood.” The team was also inspired by the hotel’s exterior envelope, which is “very Brutalist, with no ornamentation,” she adds. “When we learned that the location was an epicenter of bohemian culture in the ’70s, we leaned into that.” Public spaces and guestrooms feature rust and brown tones, crushed velvet, and paisley patterns. A curated cache of accents like mature plants, macramé, shag rugs, and lava lamps complete the picture.
Viceroy Washington DC
Sitting not far from the popular 14th Street corridor, the Viceroy Washington DC is an art-filled renovation of a Kimpton Hotel and features a clubbier vibe than its sister DC property, the Hotel Zena by Seattle’s Dawson Design Group. Playing off of its Logan Circle locale, where many of the city’s art galleries are clustered, San Francisco firm EDG Design inserted several new spaces into the lobby, including a salon with leather chairs and bold tropical wallpaper redolent of the spaces where the area’s writers and painters would have gathered over drinks. The same soft palette of green and orange hues continues in the 178 refreshed rooms, where EDG installed vinyl wood-patterned flooring and replaced art and some furnishings. “Viceroy wanted a bit of an upscale, almost residential feel,” says EDG CEO Jennifer Johanson. “The idea was to make the property feel like a destination to pop in after work for a drink or stop by on Saturday for a morning coffee with friends.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s August 2021 issue.