With less than two months of Presidential Primaries left to run and campaigns well underway, this is a big year for Washington DC. After recent years basking in the showbiz glow of a slew of US television shows set in the political underbelly of the capital – from Scandal to House of Cards to Veep – the city feels familiar even to the uninitiated. But as a travel destination, there’s more to it than Kevin Spacey and a questionable Southern accent. Beyond the privileged inner circle of the political elite, poorer areas of the city once tarnished by a bad reputation are benefitting from regeneration projects that have allowed creative districts to flourish and the gourmet scene to filter out.
Bed in: contemporary style in the historic centre
Washington DC is a relatively small city with most sights easily reached on foot, but for a central location, the DuPont Circle Hotel, part of the Irish family-owned Doyle Collection, is just 15 minutes’ walk from the White House located near DuPont Circle in the historic centre (001 202 483 6000; doylecollection.com; doubles from $274 room only).Because nothing can be built higher than the Washington Monument, the views from the hotel’s executive floor (15 suites and a dedicated lounge) are impressive despite only being nine storeys high. Communal areas are decorated with art from the owners’ private collection while rooms are luxurious with underfloor heating in the bathrooms, walk-in showers and huge, and exceptionally comfortable, beds. The on-site restaurant Café Dupont serves a vast breakfast and a French brasserie-style evening menu.
Fed & watered: market forces and southern comfort
Washingtonians love their brunch and a perfect Saturday morning is spent browsing and tasting at Union Market (001 301 347 3998; unionmarketdc.com) in the north-east of the city. The wholesale market area dates back to the late 19th century and sits in a once dilapidated quarter. After burning down in 2011, it has been rebuilt with a stellar gourmet food hall that should satisfy the hippest of hipsters. It features 40 local traders including artisanal cheesemongers Righteous Cheese, which offers a $13 posh grilled cheese sandwich and beer combo (001 202 716; righteouscheese.com)...(cont)