A stay at Capella Washington D.C.

Capella Washington D.C. (Photo Credit: Capella Washington D.C.)

Capella Washington D.C. offers bespoke luxury in Georgetown

The one-of-a-kind experience began when our car was whisked away to a garage below the building and we were greeted by name as we entered the door. The ambiance of the property was refined and serene, more akin to entering a luxury residential building than a hotel. After a 5-hour drive from New York, we immediately felt relaxed.

Conveniently located in the heart of Georgetown (close to the intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue), Capella Washington D.C. is a boutique hotel on one of the quaint streets lined with architecturally eye-grabbing row houses. Before the building was gutted, redesigned, and opened as a hotel in March 2013, it once housed the Trial Lawyers Association.

The red brick property is bordered by the scenic C&O Canal on one side. Its other side is two short blocks from the redeveloped waterfront district along the Potomac River. Whichever direction you choose to walk, you’ll be only steps away from trendy shops, galleries, entertainment venues, restaurants, cafes and tea rooms. We had lived in the Washington, DC area for many years but hadn’t been back to Georgetown (designated a National Historic District in 1951) for some time. The area was as vibrant as ever.

View of the C&O Canal in Georgetown
View of the towpath along the C&O Canal in Georgetown in winter

Design elements

One unique aspect of the hotel’s layout is a ground floor that is divided into two distinct parts, public and private. The former is comprised of a lounge and restaurant to the right of the lobby that are popular meeting spots for Washington locals.

The sultry Rye Bar is decorated in deep rich colors with clubby leather chairs and a dramatic honey onyx bar with backlighting. The lounge is reminiscent of a place where you might bump into Don Draper. The menu offers a variety of interesting craft cocktails, many featuring rye, bourbon and scotch.

Behind the bar is the Grill Room, an elegant restaurant whose kitchen is in transition, having recently been taken over by James Beard award-winning chef, Frank Ruta. The incoming chef spent ten years at the White House as the personal lunch and dinner chef for the Carter, Reagan and Bush families before launching his own D.C. restaurant, Palena, which closed last April after a successful run of thirteen years.

The Grill Room with outdoor seating overlooking the Canal
The Grill Room with outdoor seating overlooking the Canal

Guests entering the residential portion of the property need to have an electronic  key to open the massive glass doors on the left side of the ground floor. These doors lead to a discreet check-in desk, a Living Room, and a bank of elevators to other floors, an arrangement that offers privacy and security.

Guest experience 

The guest experience is as thoughtfully designed, as was the physical structure. Some standout features that felt very personalized included:

Flexible check-in and check out times

Instead of adhering to rigid hours, guests can arrange to check in and out at their convenience. In addition, the process for checking in and out is seamless.

The Living Room

For guests who want a quiet place to relax, the Living Room on the main floor is inviting with its fireplace, crystal chandelier, comfy chairs and couches, tables, and curated bookshelves. In the morning, one can read the paper here, catch up on work, and enjoy complimentary fresh fruit, coffee and croissants. Throughout the day, coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages are available at no extra cost. When the Rye Bar was buzzing on a Friday evening, we were happy to have our drinks served in this oasis.

Fireplace in the Living Room
Fireplace in the Living Room

Our room 

Room 406 was blissfully quiet and quite well-appointed with electronic touch panels at both sides of the bed operating the lights and drapery. A thermostat allowed us to adjust the temperature and the King bed was uber-comfortable with fluffy white linens. The technology-rich room also had ample outlets tucked into the nightstand drawers, including one curiously positioned beside the King James Bible.

Our room
Our room
The nightstand drawer
The nightstand drawer

The bathroom was spacious with a huge stall shower, separate water closet, and other nice touches like Italian Acqua de Parma toiletries and an emergency kit with an extra toothbrush and such. 

Personal assistants 

The hotel prides itself on its personal service and has personal assistants available 24/7 to respond to requests. We didn’t get to use the service because all our needs seem to have been anticipated!

In-room spa services

A small fitness center is open 24/7 with a swim-through indoor and heated outdoor pool, and appealing roof lounge and bar with breathtaking views of the Potomac (that we would love to return to in warmer weather.) Because no spa is on site, guests can enjoy the privacy of in-room spa services by appointment including massages, facials, and body, hand and foot treatments.

Lounge area overlooking the Potomac
Lounge area overlooking the Potomac

No extra charges 

Sparkling water and sodas in the minibar were free as was high-speed Internet access. When our personal assistant oriented us to our room, she told us that the only upcharge is for outside telephone service but she couldn’t remember any time when a guest relied on the room phone as opposed to their cells.

The bottom line 

We were charmed by the intimacy, personal service and extraordinary beauty of this five-star gem in the middle of Georgetown. The hotel blends tradition with contemporary comfort in just the right proportions, making it a great choice for a romantic weekend getaway or as a launch pad for longer visits to this monumental city. What could have raised the ante? Only better weather since we visited in winter. We hope to return again when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and Chef Ruta has firmly taken root in the kitchen.

Capella Washington D.C. was named as one of the “Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the United States” in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Hotel Awards®.

The Potomac from the promenade at Washington Harbour
The Potomac at dusk from the promenade at Washington Harbour

Tips for Travelers:

  • Ask for a room with a view on the canal side of the building.
  • Room sizes are comparable to that of most urban hotels; if you want to live large, opt for one of the Georgetown Rooms that have separate seating areas.
  • Don’t forget to take a walk along the towpath beside the Canal.
  • Enjoy the views of the Kennedy Center and the Key and Memorial Bridges over the Potomac from the promenade of nearby Washington Harbour.
  • If you are flying to D.C., the hotel is only a 15-minute taxi drive from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.


Capella Washington D.C. Georgetown

1050 31st St NW, Washington DC, DC 20007

Disclosure: We paid a media rate for our stay at Capella Washington D.C. but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.

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  1. There were many elements of this hotel that I have never experienced before like being addressed by my name as I entered a lobby, soft drinks in the room or a living room for guests. I can certainly see why you were charmed by the staff, service and setting of this beautiful hotel!!

  2. DC is one of our favorite cities and we’re lucky to have a relative who lives nearby in Alexandria (and close to the metro) who always spreads out the welcome mat when we want to visit. However, I wouldn’t turn down a stay at the very luxurious and welcoming Capella Washington D.C. Hotel either!

  3. “Bespoke luxury in Georgetown,” says a lot. It’s a city that attracts well-heeled travelers from around the world. Sounds like power-people will be seen in the lounge. I love Georgetown and it’s history. Would love to stay there if we ever get to DC.

  4. This hotel sounds fabulous. The next time I’m in the area, I must check it out! How nice that you never needed the personal assistant because everything was perfect.

  5. What a lovely spot. My husband went to school in DC and we loved it, but experienced the city on a much different budget. I think it’s time for a return visit and Capella along the Potomac looks like just the place to stay!

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