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Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C., Southwest 

1330 Maryland Avenue S.W.
Washington , D.C.
Tel: 888 888 1778 (toll-free)
Tel: 202 554 8588
view web site ›'s insider take:

The sumptuous style, Eastern touches, cosseting service, and excellent food will come as no surprise to anyone who's stayed at a Mandarin Oriental. But what no one has been able to figure out since this 400-room hotel opened in 2004 is why the company's executives chose this particular location. Unlike most of its competitors, situated in Georgetown or downtown, this hotel is stuck near the Smithsonian in the southwest quadrant, on an isolated peninsula surrounded by nondescript government buildings. Still, the accommodations are gorgeous, particularly the corner Premier Water View rooms, with their romantic chaise longues positioned in front of tall windows looking out on the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial. The restaurant, CityZen, is also a bona fide draw, and the spa, with its bronze ceiling, sunny colors, soothing atmosphere, indoor heated pool, and range of Asian-inspired treatments, will make you forget you're even in a city.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
The Mandarin Oriental is arguably away from the action, nestled between the Tidal Basin and the Mall, but the location is more serene than remote. There is not a Federalist tassel nor an overstuffed chintz chaise to be found; rather, in keeping with the hotel group's Asian roots, the feel is Far East. Artwork from China and Thailand graces the walls, waitstaff in the lobby's Empress Lounge wear mandarin-collared brocade jackets and serve wasabied bar treats, and the Zen restaurant Café MoZU proffers wines selected to complement the Pan-Asian menu. (A second eatery, CityZen, is helmed by Eric Ziebold, who cut his teeth in the kitchens of the Napa Valley's storied French Laundry.) The Eastern touches extend to the 400 rooms, from the chinoiserie pillows to the chartreuse silken duvets on the unusually high beds. A gym and a spa (one of D.C.'s largest) coexist on the lower level, and the hotel's art gallery features a rotating collection of works on loan from various Smithsonian museums.—2005 Hot List

When to go: During the annual Cherry Blossom Festival (late March/early April).

Which room to book: Rear rooms on upper floors boast views of the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin

Amenities: Bar/lounge, Gym, Pool, Spa, 24-hour Room Service, Wheelchair-accessible

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