Since opening its doors nearly a century ago, the elegantly appointed, Italian Renaissance-style Hay-Adams hotel in Washington D. C. has become synonymous with exemplary service that is at once impeccably attentive and expertly discreet. It is no wonder then that Washington's elite have been known to call it their home away from home. Its prominent early guests range from aviators, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, to novelist, Sinclair Lewis, and more recently, the Obama family, when they resided on property in the days leading up to the 2009 presidential inauguration.
The hotel's unimpeachable service is matched only but its one-of-a-kind Downtown location—each of its 145 spacious, traditionally styled rooms and suites boast views of the White House, Lafayette Park, and or St. John's Church. The latter is colloquially known as the Church of the Presidents and features a presidential pew reserved for the Commander in Chief. The hotel's rooftop event space, the Top of the Hay, offers such a spectacular panorama of the surrounding landmarks that it's often tapped as a filming location for politically-inspired television series, such as Veep and Homeland.
One could argue that the Hay-Adams' unique facility for hosting the city’s most esteemed guests is in its DNA. The property is located on the site of two 19th-century Romanesque homes belonging to the hotel's namesakes: John Hay, personal secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt; and esteemed historian and Harvard professor Henry Adams, descendant of U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. During their occupancy, the two, together with their families, hosted salon-style discussions on art, science, and politics with guests that included Mark Twain, Henry James, and Theodore Roosevelt. In the spirit of these salons, the hotel continues to host literary discussions through its Author Series. Recent Author Series participants include the biographer Walter Isaacson and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough.
The notion that the Hay-Adams is a place to see and be seen—while maintaining space and privacy—is a sentiment echoed throughout the property and perhaps most notably in the hotel's aptly named, Off The Record bar. A favorite among guests and locals alike, this ambient, crimson-hued club is famous for both its clientele and legendary collection of political cartoons. The collection has grown over the decades, and now includes the work of local artists and acclaimed contemporary cartoonists, such as Politico's Matt Wuerker, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. The caricatures' popularity with guests inspired the hotel to print cheeky cartoons of contemporary political figures, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Donald Trump, and Paul Ryan, on Off The Record bar's drink coasters. These mini artworks have become a coveted collector's item and can be purchased as a set from the hotel.