Running along the Potomac on a crisp winter morning, I suddenly found myself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Before I sprinted those last few steps to the top I turned around and looked across the Reflecting Pool towards the Washington Monument. This was D.C. at its best. I’d packed my running gear to start my day on the right foot, found myself surrounded by a sea of serial city runners just waking up to say hello to the beautiful blue-sky morning, and it was all thanks to The Graham Georgetown, D.C.
Hotels don’t always make the best first impressions. Some are too loud, while others are bland and boring. When I wanted to book a weekend getaway with my friend Renee, a stay-a-home mom who would snap if she didn’t get some time away from her three boys, I craved something simple and soothing; a relaxing space that put us close to amazing restaurants and within walking distance to all of the D.C. sights and museums.
I wanted to feel welcome and special, which is what we found at the Graham Georgetown. Upon entering we were greeted like family. The staff was eager to help us get checked in and settled so we could start our girls’ weekend as soon as possible. We tossed our luggage into our King Suite, quickly freshened up and headed down to the basement for a few Happy Hour drinks at The Alex. It was time to start our weekend, and we were going to do it right.
Welcome to the Graham Georgetown
The Graham, an Independent Collection Hotel, is tucked away on a side street in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C, just off of M Street, which is the main street through the area. I actually missed the Graham the first time I ever walked down Thomas Jefferson Street NW. I was in the neighborhood to grab cupcakes from Baked and Wired. I didn’t expect a luxury boutique hotel to be tucked away in one of the historic buildings, but there it was. Walking in I caught a hint of thyme in the air. General Manager, Robert Clark, worked for several months to create a signature scent for the hotel. He didn’t want to overwhelm guests; he wanted to remind them of home. Oh if only my house smelled that good all of the time!
The décor was warm and welcoming, just like the neighborhood, but still modern in its furniture design and color selections. Vibrant red chairs cradled a fireplace in a sunken sitting area as we entered the hotel.
A plush seating area opposite the reception desk was a welcome relief after trekking around town in heels all day while we waited for my car to be brought around by the valet. The rooms were no different.
Renee came so close to sleeping on the high back, velvety red chaise lounge in our King Suite, which was so much more comfortable than it looked. As I snuggled down in the duvet cover over my pillow top bed that first night I thought I was floating up to a cloud, and clearly there was no reason that I should ever come back down to earth.
The Graham Georgetown might have been a quiet haven from our daily lives, but the neighborhood was really why we chose this hotel– colonial history meets upscale shopping and eclectic dining in Georgetown. Every street, nook and cranny had a story to share, from the Old Stone House (the last remaining original house of Georgetown) to satisfying our caffeine addiction down a little alley at locally-owned Dog Tag Bakery, a business that is helping vets through job training and serves up one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve had in a long time.
Dining Out in Georgetown
Our first night we felt like sampling the tastes of France, so we made a reservation at Le Chaumiere. Yelp gave it great reviews and for good reason. The wine list was extensive, and the chocolate soufflé made us think we should have ordered two. My duck was seared to perfection and paired beautifully with wild grain rice, while Renee’s steak medallions, which she grudgingly shared, melted in my mouth. This would not be the only meal we lingered over that weekend.
El Centro’s weekend brunch was a steal and a hot spot for the millennial crowd. For a set price we were treated to bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys and any of the other alcoholic beverages on the brunch menu, as well as all-you-can-eat tapas. I salivated over the carnitas and steak tacos, maduros (sweet plantains), fresh guacamole, and a tomato and cucumber salad. Naturally we had to top it all off with churros. You can’t have brunch without a few Mexican donuts dipped in chocolate and caramel.
Our last night at the Graham Georgetown, two friends joined us for dinner at Farmers, Fishers and Bakers, a restaurant that requires a reservation if you want a table on a weekend. Little did we know that we had just started a progressive meal that would last six hours. Salads, sandwiches and fried chicken were just the start.
Eno Wine Bar was our next stop, where we had hoped to get chocolate fondue to go with our wine flights. Sadly they had taken it off the menu, which is how we ended up back at The Graham, taking the stairs down to The Alex for a late night chocolate treat, along with strawberry mules. This cozy bar was a great place to warm up on a cold winter’s night when the roof top bar was closed for the season.
Georgetown is a shopper’s paradise, no matter your budget. Everything from boutique shops to H&M can be found in this neighborhood. Shop local or shop the chains; you have options here to do both. Just around the corner from the Graham we found Cusp, a funky two-story store that is similar to Anthropologie in price, but has more designer labels on the racks.
We wandered into a second floor walk-up that housed Georgetown Trade Consignment Shop, a shop that only buys and sells designer labels. We had to do a little digging to find the real gems, but the shop was small enough not to be overwhelming.
Culture within reach in Georgetown
One of the best things about the Graham Georgetown is that we could cram in all of the food and shopping we craved, but we were also within walking distance of the National Mall and all of the Smithsonian museums. The Renwick Gallery had recently launched their new Wonder exhibit.
As two former art school kids, Renee and I didn’t want to miss out. We walked the 30 minutes to the Renwick Gallery from the Graham Georgetown, following the same path along the river that I had run along earlier that morning. It was chilly, but the walk, and conversation that came up as two moms finally began to relax and unwind, was worth the brisk stroll to our destination.
To say that Wonder is a curators dream might be pushing it. Yes, the works are exquisite, but I can’t imagine the logistics involved in installing these nine room-sized pieces. Textures abound and no two were alike. As we walked in we were welcomed by a mountain of index cards, quickly followed by a rainbow made of string.
My favorite piece, a glass marble interpretation of the Chesapeake Bay by Maya Lin, calmed my racing heart after our walk, and made me want to dive in. I knew I had to bring my boys back, and I did later that week.
Waking up the next morning I felt refreshed, quickly followed by a sadness because we had to head home that afternoon. I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement again. The weather wasn’t cooperating, in fact it began to snow, so I jogged back for a quick breakfast with Renee at Baked and Wired. Although most people visit this shop for the cupcakes, they have a fantastic coffee bar, great Chai lattes, and a breakfast menu that includes oatmeal with berries and apples, biscuits and quiche.
Home was calling us back. Literally. Our husbands were wondering when we would arrive so they could pass the kids back to us. We thought about hitting another museum. It would have been so easy, but instead we packed up a few cupcakes to bring home, threw our bags in the car and said goodbye to the staff of the Graham Georgetown. It had been a relaxing weekend where we could pretend we had no cares in the world other than ourselves. It was a good reminder, and one we will have to do again. The Graham never stops calling out to locals and visitors, and will always welcome those who need a break from their daily lives.
Know before you go
- The Graham Georgetown, 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Family-friendly? While this boutique hotel does have an air of adult getaway, children are welcome and more than one infant was spotted at check in.
- Noise: When the windows are open in your hotel room you will be able to hear the traffic outside, but closed windows will block out most of the outside noises that try to creep in.
- Restaurants: The Alex bar in the basement serves up plenty of food to satisfy your hunger, including a lovely morning breakfast. Room service is also available.
Where to Eat
- The Alex @ The Graham Georgetown, 1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Baked and Wired, 1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Dog Tag Bakery, 3206 Grace St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- El Centro, 1218 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
- La Chaumiere, 2813 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Farmers, Fishers and Bakers, 3000 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Thunder Burger, 3056 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (read our full review)
- Filomena, 1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
- The Rye Bar, 1050 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Eno Wine Bar, 2810 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
What to do
- Jog along the Potomac
- Shop the boutiques and stores on and off M Street
- Stroll down the C&O Canal path
- Get your caffeine fix at Baked and Wired
- See a movie at the theater down on K Street NW
- Ice Skate at the Washington Harbor ice rink (seasonal)
- Visit one of the many Smithsonian Museums
- Take a night tour of the monuments
- Wander the side streets of Georgetown looking for the most magnificent mansion
- Take a yoga class at CorePower Yoga
- Take a river cruise to explore D.C. in a different way
Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
For more resources, check out our pages on Baltimore, Richmond and beyond.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered. Check rates and availability here.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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This post was written as part of a partnership with the Independent Collection. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.