There are times when the best antidote to a stressful week is silence, and plenty of it. It also seems to be a quality much appreciated in a fine hotel. Sometimes luxury is a simple as the complete absence of sound once the hotel room door has closed. It almost makes the other unmistakably distinct hotel room sounds seem somehow amplified. The rustle of crisp fresh sheets. The squeak and rush of water into a stress-draining shower. The thud as the shoes are kicked off onto the pristine carpet and the flip-flop footfalls of toes snuggled into a pair of slippers. The sign in the lobby indicates there’s a Bat Mitzvah in progress somewhere else in the hotel, but now, at this moment, there’s nothing but silence.
The Fairfax at Embassy Row is a member of The Luxury Collection, a Starwood group of independently branded hotels. Like most buildings in DC, there’s a lot of history. The building was completed in 1927 and was known for accommodating soldiers during World War II, and for hosting the inaugural breakfast for President Eisenhower’s first term. The hotel joined The Luxury Collection in 2006. This particular stay was the benefit of the SPG Breakfast Plus promotion for Starwood Preferred Guest Members, for a weekend rate of $103 plus tax which included a Continental breakfast buffet for two.
There are several vintage touches around the space that have survived. Should one wish to mail a letter, there’s a mail slot on each floor that sends envelopes down a chute to the mail box in the lobby. The chutes have glass fronts so it’s theoretically possible to see letters being dropped from floors above, but in these modern times there were none to be seen. There are plenty of other little niceties one expects in a luxury hotel: a doorman, polished wood, marble, brass fittings, and fragrance. The cool, cozy lobby smells like shampoo.
The sleep is comfortable, the shower is heavenly (thanks to Remède Spa amenities identical to those used at St. Regis properties and a thermometer so one knows the temperature of the shower they’re about to step into) the hotel stories by designers and other gliteratti on the hotel’s own television channel are entrancing, the recipes outlined in the guest room copy of Epicurean Journeys mouthwatering, and the other periodicals up-to-date and relevant.
The comforting silence is broken in the breakfast room, as it seems either the promised Bat Mitzvah from the evening before has materialized for breakfast, or there are simply plenty of guests in the hotel with small, rowdy children. Noise notwithstanding, the service was attentive, the coffee strong, and the pastries light and flaky. For those with heartier A.M. appetites, there were also eggs, bacon, and sausage on offer. The little niceties continue throughout the dining room, with crisp white linen tableclothes and lovely china patterns that would seem completely appropriate in the White House itself.
Disappointingly, a Saturday afternoon post-Brunch cocktail was not to be had. Although the hotel’s website lists the Fairfax Grille and Lounge’s bar to be open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. it was closed at 3 p.m, not to reopen until 5. It seems the hours for the bar were matched to the hours for food service, and the venue was locked up tight from 2 to 5. For a hotel with a very small lobby and no other public spaces in which to relax, this could be disappointing for some, and a mention on Twitter garnered no response.
Breakfast noise aside, the property was relatively well-maintained, and located conveniently close to DuPont Circle with its Metro Station and eclectic dining and nightlife.
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