A La Carte
The 1967 Luigi Moretti-designed hotel complex, made famous by the 1972 break-in of then headquarters of the Democratic National Committee located on its sixth floor, will once again open its doors in June following an extensive $125 million renovation.
The Watergate Hotel with its bold mid-century modern design, has been updated under the ownership of international real estate developer, Euro Capital Properties. The 336 guest rooms include six Diplomat Suites, 24 premier suites and two stately Presidential Suites, as well as 27,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a brand new ballroom and 10,000 square feet of outdoor terraces overlooking the Potomac River.
The dining room is outfitted with The Watergate Chairs, designed exclusively for the hotel by acclaimed designer Ron Arad to underscore the curvature of the building’s original architecture. Arad says he “was inspired by the circular movements throughout the building and the waves of The Potomac River to develop distinct public spaces which flow seamlessly."
The casual and fine dining spaces are separated by custom banquettes by Italian furniture craftsmen Moroso. In keeping with the lobby motif, the hotel's dining destinations feature warm red and bronze colors and an oversized metal bar where craft cocktails are shaken and stirred.
Diners, which include hotel guests and local residents, will have the luxury of several unique experiences from which to choose: Kingbird restaurant and bar, The Next Whisky Bar, and spectacular Top of the Gate rooftop bar and lounge with 360-degree views of the city.
Euro Capital Properties tapped seasoned Executive Chef Michael Santoro to create menus for the hotel's restaurants, bars, in-room dining, and meeting and event spaces. Signature dishes, which highlight the best of American cuisine with a French twist, include English Pea Velouté with cuttlefish ravioli, Crispy Frog Legs, Roast Foie Gras grilled a la plancha over cherry blossom, and Toasted Rouget in bouillabaisse. Santoro has worked in acclaimed Michelin Star restaurants including London’s The Fat Duck Duck and Mugaritz in Spain, as well as Andaz 5th Avenue in New York and D.C.’s Blue Duck Tavern.
“It is an honor to be working with the iconic Watergate Hotel,” said Executive Chef Michael Santoro. “I am inspired by the hotel’s distinct history and I feel privileged to be reinventing the food and beverage experience for all of The Watergate Hotel's dining venues."
"He was an ordinary bloke from the Midlands when suddenly he found himself front and center of an international incident." It was 1996, and Rachel Briggs was a Geography major at Cambridge University when her uncle was kidnapped in Colombia while working as an engineer at a cement factory. Her family and friends sought to understand what had happened and how best to free him and three fellow hostages from Denmark, Germany and Columbia.
Fortunately, her uncle was released seven-and-a-half months later but Briggs had found her calling. Inspired by this incident, in 2001, Briggs wrote “The Kidnapping Business,” a report seeking answers. It was then, while at a London Think Tank, English humanitarian, author and former hostage Terry Waite saw her thesis and said, "We need an organization that supports family."
Waite immediately recruited Briggs, and together, starting with $7,000, they “built it brick by brick and launched Hostage UK in 2004.” Providing financial help, counseling, trauma therapy and general assistance was their mission, to help families cope with a frightening and hopefully, once-in-a-lifetime event.
As Briggs explained, “Most kidnappings happen under the radar, and hostage families suffer at home in silence. They are the unreported victims of this terrifying crime. Hostage US helps families to survive and hostages to rebuild their lives – I can’t think of a more important mission to dedicate my life to.”
Modeled after Hostage UK, Hostage US, was launched in April 2016, with new Georgetown resident Rachel Briggs at the helm.
Offering “concierge service,” Hostage US helps families and former hostages navigate their way through the myriad of medical, psychiatric and financial challenges. Hostage US and Hostage UK are not involved in efforts to free hostages or negotiate, but provide a wealth of support services to help families survive and hostages get back to full health.
Though there are no published statistics, Briggs estimates 200-300 US hostages are held every year. While the Middle East is a fertile kidnapping ground, says Briggs, “You’re more likely to be kidnapped in Mexico and South America than anywhere else."
Currently in fund-raising mode, the organization seeks donations through their website, and always needs professional expertise (legal, medical, financial, media). All Hostage US assistance is pro bono.
For more information, visit Hostage US.
"We're both honored to be selected to represent this seller," says Kerry Fortune Carlsen on behalf of herself and Kira Epstein, as she takes The Georgetown Dish on a VIP tour of Freedom Place, just listed by Washington Fine Properties. This historic Sheridan-Kalorama residence is documented to be the Presidential Guest House under the Kennedy administration at the time Blair House was being renovated.
Originally constructed in the Beaux Arts style circa 1910, by Charles Doolittle Walcott, the American Paleontologist who was Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute from 1907 to 1927 and encompassing nearly twelve thousand square feet of finished interior space, this exceptional ambassadorial residence, coined “Freedom Place” by its current stewards, is a unique property.
The four prior occupants of this home include prominent world leaders in the fields of science and the arts, business and banking, philanthropy and world politics; each owner expanding and improving upon the property adding bespoke details with thoughtful care resulting in what has today become one of the most admired homes in DC.
Featuring 8 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half baths, an elegant elevator to all floors, 5 fireplaces, staff accommodations, a heated pool with jacuzzi, and parking for 3 cars in the attached garage and driveway, the property boasts countless unique features. Among them several surfaces custom faux-painted by the renowned interior artisan Malcom Robeson, imported European millwork and paneling, the finest custom fixtures and fittings throughout, and radiant heat floors.
The residence is perfectly suited to the most formal entertaining, hosting significant diplomatic events, and housing world recognized art collections, as well as for more casual family gatherings.
Freedom Place has views from every window of the classic expansive DC skyline, the private neighboring gardens of Decatur House and the property’s own verdant and mature walled gardens which feature specimen plantings and the finest landscaping and hardscaping.
Entering the home from the virtually private cul-de-sac at 22nd and S Street and passing through a stately entry door with a fan light crown, on the first floor is a wide gallery receiving area. This opens on one side to an intimate English-style living room featuring antique authentic French Regency entry doors, a wood burning fireplace, custom faux finishes and a balcony overlooking the walled garden and swimming pool. On the other side, the warm and inviting sitting room offering another fireplace and three large windows, rebuilt from historic raised paneling imported from a Virginia English farmhouse where Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. The embassy-sized 21 x 16.5 foot formal dining room is perfect for enjoyong meals with its wainscoting and double French windows overlooking the neighboring gardens.
From the dining room is a wonderful example of an authentic Chinese Moon Gate in situ in the city and from here the balance of this floor leaves the carefully restored past behind and moves to the updated and recently completed chef’s kitchen. No detail has been spared to create this culinary dream-space, suitable for gourmet meal preparation as well as family dinners, featuring a remarkable custom commissioned copper vent hood stretching the width of the center island, a built in gas-fired wok and hand-made cabinetry with Asian inspired glass and exotic wood details. From here, a glass walled solarium provides both, a living area, complete with interior water feature providing a magnificent transition from inside to outside and opening to the pool deck and walled garden.
A causeway connect the historic home to the more recently constructed award-winning 3 level carriage house. There, a completely private guest suite with full bath, butler’s pantry and juliette balcony overlooking the swimming pool, as well as an executive office suite and the home’s garage and parking.
Leading upstairs from the main entry gallery, an elegant a wide curved stairway with authentic ivory finial leads to the second level where a vast master suite with his and hers dressing areas encompass the entire floor. The third level offers three more bedrooms, two full baths and access to the roof top gazebo room and covered deck allowing for the finest 360 degree city views in the area. The entertainment level boasts casual spaces for intimate gatherings; a family room, a bar, an additional walled garden, a large laundry facility, staff quarters and the home’s mechanical room and wine cellar.
Near diplomatic residences and embassies, the distinguished twelve thousand square foot home enjoys a prominent location on a private peninsula overlooking the Decatur Terrace steps. Locally referred to as the “Spanish Steps” - the delightful four tiered stone and concrete staircase, framed by ornamental lampposts and capped by a granite lion head fountain, was designed by Robert Cook and placed in 1911 on a steep strip of land deeded to the city by noted artist (and 3rd wife of Charles Walcott), Mrs. Mary Veaux Walcott. The Steps were built to create a pedestrian link from S Street to Decatur Place and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as is the entirety of Sheridan-Kalorama.