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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.

You know how we feel about United airlines here on this blog. They squeezed every single iota of loyalty out of us during the ill-fated Smisek years. Our 1.6 MILLION miles meant nothing to United. So we stopped flying United three years ago.

Is it time to forget and forgive? Well, not exactly. But sometimes we just fly whatever airline will get us where we need to be when we need to be there.

The world colluded to put us in United Polaris across the pond to Frankfurt.

The United pods on a 777-200 are nice. They are easier to manage than the Virgin Atlantic pods and don’t require shenanigans to get into bed mode. In practice, that means with expedited meal service you can get right to pretending to sleep.

Saks Fifth Avenue? Ha ha ha. United and dime stores.

Pod view with a large screen entertainment system running linux

Mimosa and propaganda

On this trip the crew was great, the wine was passable, the flight was bumpy and we arrived early. Well, what you gonna do.

Then there was the indignity of the bus at Frankfurt. No no no no.

Anyway, you get what you overpay for on United Polaris!

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?

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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.

You know that quandry where you’re just below the threshold for Inner Circle status by one night? That. Somehow it happens every year.

Why leave this?

Why leave this?

Fortunately, NPS can always make the best of it by visiting Steph Vogel and finding out what he is up to. A little backstory, Steph has run a number of DC-area Kimpton properties, lifting them every time up into excellence: the Palomar, the George, and the Donovan. Now it’s time for the Lorien.

The Lorien’s main problem is competition from the very fabulous Hotel Monaco just down the street (and much closer to the water). The Monaco seems to have sucked up all of the great design resources, leaving the Lorien marooned in the dreamscape ’90s. That is all starting to change now that Steph is in charge.

For example, the bar and restaurant are already going places. Once a scary exclusively white tablecloth space is now a bar buzzing with life and engaged with the street (not to mention soaked in cocktail excellence). Phil Clark runs a very nice bar.

The Lorien bar program is top notch

The Lorien bar program is top notch

Get those drinks right!  Attention detail, you are now on call.

Get those drinks right! Attention detail, you are now on call.

Just take a look at the glassware. This is top shelf.

Liberty Punch

Liberty Punch

Bourbon Crusta

Bourbon Crusta

The amenity deposited for NPS in 619 highlighted both the bar and the kitchen to great effect. Just gorgeous, very welcoming, and kind.

Fancy a sweet?

Fancy a sweet?

How to make a Liberty Punch: Some Assembly Required

How to make a Liberty Punch: Some Assembly Required

Watching the rooms transform from their current stark, almost bland design to something better will be fun. NPS money says that in six months this property will be the hottest ticket in town.

619 Bedroom

619 Bedroom

Stark

Stark

The shower, we are happy to report, is glass shower excellence (and huge). NPS could shoot a movie in there!

Enter the glass door for showering

Enter the glass door for showering

NPS approved shower

NPS approved shower

And off the bedroom and sitting room both, is a balcony overlooking Alexandria. Can’t wait to come back and see what that is like in the summer.

View from balcony of 619

View from balcony of 619

Our visit was punctuated by a drink with Phil and Steph at the bar. And then it was off to the always fabulous Restaurant Eve for dinner. Eve did not disappoint. The five course tasting meal was absolutely delicious and worth every penny (that’s lots of pennies for those counting). Three hours of laughter, great flavors, and fun was just what the doctor ordered after this year.

We returned for a nightcap of Liberty Punch.

Four showerheads and massive velocity towards five for the Lorien. Let the transformation begin.

Great food. Great drinks. Great hospitality. 2016, we bid you adieu.

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

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

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Thanks Alex!

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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?

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It was a perfect weekend in Virginia (if not hot). Lots of time in the river. An evening playing live music for friends. So how do ease back into work mode? Why with the help of the Donovan hotel of course. My home away from home in DC is particularly welcoming this visit!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the shower pod

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the shower pod

You see, my friend Steph Vogel has been holding out on me. But no more! Now we’ve been in 1110. YES!

Welcome

Welcome

We will pretend that this is a flight of Pappy van Winkle bourbon.

Living room overlooking the circle

Living room overlooking the circle

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This suite is huge.

Bedroom

Bedroom

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But the shower is what stands out. A nautilus design with a spiral. Very cool.

The nautilus shower is NPS approved

The nautilus shower is NPS approved

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Without setting foot in an airplane, we’re somehow still pampered beyond belief. Five showerheads for the Donovan. Thanks for ending the weekend on a high note!

Four cities in two days will do that to you.

Upgraded on one hop to Pittsburgh on United!!

Then a tiny ancient United puddle hopper to NYC (Mesa needs more new planes).

New York was gorgeous

Train to Connecticut from Penn Station bright and early

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Now leaving NY

Now leaving NY

Then it was on to the worst Hertz rental car of all time. Dirty, over milage, driven hard, shimmy. Just crap. You can really suck Hertz!

This Hertz car sucks

This Hertz car sucks