We’ve made quite the habit out of holding an annual data crunching summit at the Lorien. Third year in a row. And third time’s a charm.

Helped out by Kimpton/IHG big shot Steph Vogel, we secured a great working space and a bunch of rooms. My room was 611, the presidential suite. Thanks Steph!

Sparse but interesting porch 611

611 is nicely appointed, with almost too much room to spread out. The decor has been updated and is very nice.


An amenity was very nice (needed some crackers and silverware tho). The personal note was a great touch too. Nice to be back.

yup. thanks Lorien peeps.

611 includes a separate bedroom with a closet and many windows.

The bathroom is pretty far away from the bedroom, but it has a two-headed shower that is huge with a bench at the end and room for ten.

Looking in

Looking out

One of the highlights of our trip was a meal specially made for us by chef Sebastien Rondier. Chef Sabastien is from southern France, and his cooking reflects that. Absolutely delicious. Best duck a l’orange I have ever eaten. Thanks chef, for the fantastic meal. And thanks Steph for the great idea.

Chef Sebastien presents his fantastic duck

The menu, designed exclusively for us

Fois gras

Delicious Vichyssoise, very thick and served Dutch style over caviar

Peaches, goat cheese, and pine nuts

Here’s that duck again

The servings were generous, to say the least

Though we were full and very happy, dessert was incredible. The cherry tart was out of this world. But so many other delicious things.

That tart back there looks simple and is just fantastic

caffeine cake, LOL

If you get a chance to have Chef Sebastien create a meal for you, take it. A great evening.

Then there was work.

Everyone loves work

On our second evening we headed into the city, mostly targeting the Columbia Room for another visit. Somewhat by accident, we ended up dining and Kinship, which was world class and excellent. Impeccable design. Great service. Tasty food. Great Wine. Boy was that a good find!

Roast chicken (give it 70 minutes…worth every second)

Pork and beans

Caviar and potato chips

The two block walk to Columbia Room was easy. Shaw is so hopping. Though we had a great time at Columbia Room in the usual booth, we were not blown away by the summer cocktail menu. Much fun was had.

Summer menu.

pretend funnel cakes

Though served in a plastic cup (a keepsake), this cocktail is delicious

the pearl

Maybe we were so blown away by Kinship that we were not properly prepared for the Columbia Room. Love that place, but this visit was not as stellar as usual.

In any case, for a week in “no fly July” this visit to DC/Alexanria was pretty not bad. Five showerheads and 10,000 compliments to chef Sebastien at the Lorien.

It all came together just about perfectly. A morning talk at Georgetown, a nice dinner out (sadly not at Rose’s Luxury), cocktails at the Columbia Room, and then the highlight of the weekend, attending the inspiring March for our Lives. Our base of operations was the commendable Palomar DC (a Kimpton).

Turns out that our friend Matt Hurlburt (once of the Alexnadria Monaco) is now Director of a bunch of DC properties, including the Palomar. And Harald Han, as assistant GM, is running the ship day to day. The front desk staff is as professional, courteous, and great as always, remembering us from our time at the Lorien and from previous visits in the mosquito. This is a great thing!

We finagled our way into 1024 (again), a gorgeous room at the very top of the hotel. Nothing makes us wag our tails like the Presidential Suite (though, we agree with Jacques that maybe they should change the name of it for now until the #assholeinone is impeached and out of office).

palomar 1024: yes please

The shower is NPS approved.

bed room 1024

extra bathroom

the usual mess

An amenity of cheese, fruit, and a cocktail arrived with a note from Matt just before we headed out. Very nice. Thanks you guys!

We spent the mid-afternoon wandering around Dupont and getting a coffee. Then it was off to try our chances at Roses Luxury. When we arrived at 5, the line was already way too long. We could have been seated at 9, but instead went to plan B, a dinner at Convivial (in Shaw). The food and cocktails were great (as was the company), but the service was terrible. Super nice, and caring, and about as unprofessional and useless as possible. Can’t win them all.

Then came the booth at the Columbia Room, always just an incredible experience. If you have not yet made it to the Columbia Room, do it. Make sure to do the tasting room and go for the entire experience.

A late night drink at the Urbana bar was just what was needed for a good night’s sleep.

The next day we headed in to DC for the March for our Lives rally. Incredible. So proud of what the Parkland kids have done. Keep it up and we will change this country for the better!

After some great ramen at Jinya and a chance encounter with our neighbor Harry, we headed back to the Palomar to retrieve our car and our bags.

It was chaos. And the reason why turned out to be that the kids from Parkland had been staying at the Palomar as well. They boarded their bus to fly back to Florida as we hopped in our car. Amy got a hat from Emma’s mom.

Five showerheads and a hope that our next visit is just as incredible.

Though NPS does not fly in July or December, there is still stuff to be done. The solution? A working meeting at the Lorien in Old Town Alexandria. We’ve been to the Lorien a couple of times since Steph Vogel took over as GM. Sadly, Steph is in Switzerland this week. We’ll pretend that the ship runs just as well without Steph at the helm (though it’s really not true).

The Spartan balcony off 619

This visit finds us in 619, which is similar to 615 only slightly smaller and on the other side of the building. There is a very large balcony on this side too. Because it’s 100 degrees this week (with an overnight low in the upper ’70s), the balcony will be ignored due to weather. Strikes us that a remake of these balconies as a garden would make them both more inviting.

Look to the left

Look to the right

Our meeting room was cavernous and highly functional. We spent all day working.

A cocktail was in order after all that work. The bar is still very good, though barman and detail freak Phil Clark is no longer around. Phil has moved to Phoenix. You can tell. Damien is doing his damndest to keep things up.

Whey Sour
.75 cachaça (novo fogo)
.75 rye (copper fox)
1.5 whey
.75 honey
1 lemon
pinch of salt
Shake. Serve up.

Snacks at the bar took forever to arrive. That ended up making them free. Timely is better than free.

Dinner at The Warehouse was a massive disappointment. The crayfish were good. Or was that the crawdads? The wine list?
Unusable. Skip it. In other news from the evening, the bar at Restaurant Eve still holds its own, but Jackson 20 has slipped to skip it level as well. So sad that the old Alexandria Monaco is now a Marriott property.

On return from dinner around 11, we were greeted with a nice amenity. Thanks Stephani. The ice cold San Pelegrino is particularly welcome.

Sitting room 619

Sleeping room 619

The huge glass shower will do just fine.

Shower? Perfect.

Once the work was done, there were museums to see. First stop was the National Building Museum to see Hive. Well worth the visit.

Home of hive. At least for a while.

That was followed by another great lunch at Bistrot du Coin.

And a visit to the Phillips Collection. The old building is under renovation, so only half of the paintings as usual were out. But still fantastic. An NPS introduction to the stunning art of German artist Markus Lüpertz.

German artist Markus Lüpertz

The suit

Detail from Spoon

German artist Markus Lüpertz

A fantastic day. Followed almost immediately on its heels by a fantastic evening.

Roses Luxury is just as stellar as its incredible reputation. Just go. We showed up at 5:10pm and walked right in for a 180 minute dinner extravaganza.

Those poor “other people” had to wait in line

Caviar service

Yes, we took pictures of our food. We also had extensive conversations about it.

The best dish of the evening was a soft shelled crab served with Singapore-style chilli sauce (on the sweet side) over steamed buns with pickles. Delicious.

So really. Go to Roses Luxury as soon as you can.

Then there was the Columbia Room in the back booth (our usual NPS haunt), this time with the geek patrol. Excellent as usual, this time less for the drinks presentation than the company.

Columbia Room



Rum from 1857 always seems like a good idea after the tasting menu is complete.

The moral of the story is: get your work done quickly so you can spend some time being spoiled in DC!

Five showerheads and a real wish that Steph were around. We miss you Steph.

Eat, Think, Drink

February 26, 2017

The time has come to turn 51. And so celebration ensues—in the city, with friends.

Last minute plan refactoring required use of a federal style rental vehicle. You see, nobody has any kids left at home, and so cars no longer fit six in one go! (Unless you count the one Eli “borrowed” and took to Wisconsin.)

Das Rental Beast

Das Rental Beast

Special last licks at Le Dip while Baker Bob remains in power (a one week reprise before retirement really kicks in).

Amy strikes her best Vanna pose by the bread at Le Diplomate

Amy strikes her best Vanna pose by the bread at Le Diplomate

Larry Kilbourne is a master (and a philosopher to boot)

Larry Kilbourne is a master (and a philosopher to boot)

Fois gras parfait (huckleberry)

Fois gras parfait (huckleberry)

Then a play at Studio Theater. The Hard Problem is written by my friend Tom about the philosophy of my friend Dave. The play is very good if you can ignore the god coincidence nonsense.

Stage set at Studio Theatre for The Hard Problem

Stage set at Studio Theatre for The Hard Problem

And then the crowning glory of the evening, drinks at the venerable Columbia Room in the secret booth. Thanks Dante!

Cocktail time!

Cocktail time!

Woman themed drink menu

Woman themed drink menu

Inspired by many of these incredibly great bartenders

Inspired by many of these incredibly great bartenders

Is that you Audrey?

Is that you Audrey?


A cocktail inspired by Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek

A cocktail inspired by Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek

Yo!  Forty Year Old Calvados

Yo! Forty Year Old Calvados

Last delicious licks

Last delicious licks

A perfect evening.

View from the Donovan

View from the Donovan

The Donovan has become our home away from home in DC mostly due to the fact that Steph Vogel (the GM) rocks. Room 1110 which we discovered on our previous outing here is well configured for a two day offsite.

We put ourselves to work. We got done.

Working in 1110

Working in 1110

The multiple amenities and constant supply of sparkling water helped.

NPS has covered the room in previous entries, so here is a video tour instead.

Sadly everything was not perfect night one, but life rarely is. A trip to the top floor bar led us to the not-cut-out-for-bartending Joel. Some people just don’t know when to leave well enough alone! Suffice it to say:

By contrast, our visit to the Columbia Room was just out of this world. A fantastic evening indeed. Alex Levy was holding down the fort while JP and Derek jet set in Charleston.

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room













Perhaps the Fernet shots and the 1938 Old Overholt pours were bad idea? LOL







Thanks Alex!


Can’t wait to return to both the Donovan and the Columbia Room in the near future. Five showerheads and a well made Negroni to you both!

Maybe it was the late night Negroni that was the bad idea?



This is only my second time at the Hotel George (probably because it is so close to my actual home), but it already feels like home. Super friendly staff who have fun at checkin. Plus my friend Steph Vogel runs the place. You can tell his positive nature has sunk into the roots around here.

The presidential suite (or is it the royal suite??) is great (room number is 801). Nicely appointed rooms with the absolute best shower to be found in all Kimpton properties.

We’ll start with the shower. Glass and marble with a bench and its own window. Awesomeness.

When we got up to the room, we were greeted with excellent charcuterie from bistrot bis and a bottle of Côtes du Rhone. Delish. And some san pellegrino.



Here is the sitting room.


Messy bedroom

Messy bedroom

Tonight we’re off to an adventure at the Columbia Room (tucked in the back at The Passenger, and Steph is coming with us.

The Columbia Room was absolutely fantastic as always. It is an oasis of calm and a great place to relax, converse, and maybe learn a little something about great cocktails. We chose to go à la carte this visit and were ably served by JP Featherston and Tyler. The food was particularly outstanding and only outdone by the phenomenal beverages.

Drink of the night was The Archimboldi (by JP Featherston):
1 oz Blanco or Resposado Tequila
.75 oz Punt et Mes
.75 oz Rainwater Madeira
.5 oz Nux Alpina
Stir down. Strain into a coupe.

The Columbia Room is absolutely worth a visit each trip to DC. And the George is a fiver showerheads plus hotel. Magic.

Leave it to my friend Stephane Vogel to arrange for the presidential suite! My first stay at Hotel George (a Kimpton hotel) was super fantastic. And the shower is simply not to be beat.

Room 801 (the presidential suite) at Hotel George

Room 801 (the presidential suite) at Hotel George

After a warm greeting by Blair at the front desk, I headed up to 801 where I was greeted with: note, wine, cheese, and sparkling water. A superb welcome. Thanks Steph, for the hospitality and the room! This is Kimpton Karma in action.


801 bedroom at Hotel George

801 bedroom at Hotel George

The bathroom is fantastic.

Best shower in DC.

Best shower in DC.

A glass shower with a view.  And a bench!  NPS is in love.

A glass shower with a view. And a bench! NPS is in love.

Five showerheads and a free lunch for the George and its staff!

Dinner at Proof was good. Proof has a reasonable bar program and a great wine list. After dinner we somehow got trapped at the Bistro Bis bar which though not owned by Kimpton is associated with the George by reference of being attached to it. Ouch.

Among other cocktails and before absinthe hour, barman Ed Jenks created an experimental Essay #3
2 oz Laird 7.5 yr apple brandy
.5 oz Leizzaroni Amaretto
.5 oz malmsey madeira
.5 oz sour mix (fresh)
.5 oz chilli honey syrup
dash angostura
Stir. Strain. Serve with lemon twist. (In general, too much going on with this drink. Still needs work.)

Steph and I had a delicious lunch at Bistrot Bis next day after my talk. It’s always fun to catch up and learn more about the hospitality business.

Manet at the cusp of impressionism and the academy.

Manet at the cusp of impressionism and the academy.

The afternoon yielded some time to a visit to the National Art Gallery with Richard. An afternoon of art and discussion is just what the doctor ordered in late August.

As early evening rain fell, we made another fantastic visit to the incomparable Columbia Room where mel mixed some excellent drinks including the Leap Year Cocktail
2 oz plymouth gin
.5 oz sweet vermouth (cocci)
.5 oz royal combier
.25 oz lemon juice
shake. strain. garnish with lemon peel.

Dinner and bad bluegrass at Argonaut rounded out the visit.


More Light at the Palomar DC

September 16, 2013

Maybe it’s the weather? But for whatever reason, room 739 is bright and beautiful this afternoon at the Palomar in Washington DC.

Steph Vogel, the GM had me all set up again though I believe I arrived earlier than the plan called for. The guy at the front who checked me it was a smidge flustered when he did not find the envelope with my name on it. But I knew the drill. While I was busy working away on the net upstairs a nice welcome package of cheese, fruit and san pellegrino arrived with a personal note from Jerry Chou. Turns out Steph is a new dad (again)! Congrats to you guys, Steph.

Welcome package with sparkling water.

Welcome package with sparkling water.

The room is brighter than it used to be. Or maybe it’s the crisp Fall light.

That '70s chair.

That ’70s chair.

The hilarious drive up window to the bathroom from the bedroom still makes me giggle.

Bedroom bed with opening to the bathroom.

Bedroom bed with opening to the bathroom.

The shower is very not plastic.

Glass shower cube next to a traditionally unused big old tub.

Glass shower cube next to a traditionally unused big old tub.

The sitting room has a purple couch again. And a purple chair. This time there is art in the corner.

The new model room has stuff in the corner.

The new model room has stuff in the corner.

A side trip to do main stage timing practice for tomorrow’s big keynote at HP Protect at the Washington Hilton reminds me what other hotel chains are like. As they say in Search for the Holy Grail, “run away!”

Tonight (Monday) we are off to have some oysters and delicious beverages at Hank’s Oyster Bar. Turns out that Hank’s is very good indeed. Great oysters and well crafted cocktails. A delicious combination.

We ended Monday night at the Palomar bar, which is making some decent progress as a bar. Jacques, we’re not quite Palomar level yet!! The bartender range is huge, all the way from Obi at one end (unfortunately on vacation in London) to “rum and coke” girl at the other. Rum and coke? Really?! And the ice just sucks. Machine-made cardboard that melts way too fast. Get some real ice please! Best drink of the evening was Dante’s Cocktail.

Dante's Cocktail from the Palomar bar

Dante’s Cocktail from the Palomar bar

Tuesday evening was my first visit to the Columbia Room inside of Passenger. The Columbia Room not only holds up to its own hype but far exceeds it! Wow did we have a delightful evening. Matt Ficke served us well, put up with our geekiness, listened when we talked about mixing drinks (without a hint of distain), and taught us some cool stuff. As you know, we’re no cocktail newbies, and we had a great time. The special service at the end was especially appreciated. We’ll be back as often as we can.

Experimental beverage from Matt
2 oz Laird’s straight apple brandy
.75 oz Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz Gran Classico (which I need to procure for my bar)
Stir with ice, lemon peel garnish.

Five stars and a happy birth of child wish for the Palomar. (Congrats on the birth of Mariela, Steph!) Great visit. Kimpton’s rock.