eliza berkon is a features writer and musician based in washington d.c. 

Escape winter woes with these staycation destinations

St. Regis

The Experience: Nothing says stately like the St. Regis, an ornate hotel that was once the storied Carlton Hotel, built in 1926 and frequented by presidents and celebrities. Named one of the top-10 D.C. hotels by Travel and Leisure this year, the St. Regis is an exercise in grandeur, with a lobby of rich red velvet furniture, lavish glass chandeliers and ornamented gold-leaf ceilings. Enjoy afternoon tea each day from 2-5 p.m. with a tiered tray of teacakes and sandwiches or a complimentary glass of bubbly at the nightly champagne sabering at 6. For a stay that goes beyond typical amenities, try the Seduction at St. Regis package, which includes champagne, flowers and breakfast for two when you stay for two-plus nights. And for a splurge, invest in the presidential suite, a 2,500-square-foot set of rooms with butler service, a game table and chess set, a library, dining room for 10 and use of the hotel’s house car, an SL550 Mercedes. Feel free to bring the family along for one of a handful of family activities, such as an exclusive guided tour of the U.S. Capitol.

Amenities: on-site restaurant, 24-hour fitness center, Mercedes house car, butler service, Remede bath products, pet-friendly

Holiday Events: gingerbread house-making classes Saturdays in December; holiday jazz series starts Dec. 7; 12 Days of Champagne starts Dec. 12;  Christmas Eve champagne brunch and dinner; Christmas dinner; New Year’s Eve dinner

Nearby

Georgia Brown’s
950 15th St. NW
Around the block from the hotel, you’ll find a D.C. institution in Georgia Brown’s, voted one of America’s 100 best brunch restaurants by Open Table in 2016. Their low-country menu is loaded with southern seafood options, such as cornmeal-crusted catfish fingers and crab-stuffed spiced “devil” shrimp. And don’t miss their live jazz music during Sunday brunch.

City Center
825 10th St. NW
One of the city’s newer retail establishments, City Center is manna for the shopaholic. Burberry, Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Paul Stuart top a list of roughly 30 shops guaranteed to tire out even the casual window shopper. To recharge, take a break at RareSweets with an Affo-tado and Tall, Dark and Handsome cookie.

Inari Salon and Spa
1425 K St. NW
For a fresh cut, blowout, facial or nail services, turn to Inari Salon and Spa, just a 5-minute walk from the St. Regis. They also offer treatments for brows and lashes, like 3-D microblading and lash extensions.

The Graham

The Experience: The Graham is that charming, urban boutique hotel straight out of a great rom-com. Tucked away on Jefferson Street—just off Georgetown’s main thoroughfare—the unassuming red brick building welcomes you with double doors that open into a cozy lobby with modern fixtures and that amazing botanical scent that somehow infuses the lobbies of chic hotels (in this case, a Graham exclusive using Bulgari white tea). Each guest room is luxurious and sophisticated, ideal for curling up with a warm drink and a memoir after a night out. A recipient of Trip Advisor’s 2016 Certificate of Excellence, the nearly 5-year-old Graham boasts the Observatory rooftop bar through December and the Alex cocktail bar and speakeasy all year long. Dimly lit and intimate, the Alex features a dinner menu, hand-crafted drinks every night of the week and live jazz on Saturday nights. Try the hotel’s Luxury Weekend Staycation Package for a full weekend of memorable experiences, including a private car tour of D.C. monuments with a photographer Friday night, a riverboat cruise Saturday afternoon, and breakfast in bed on Sunday.

Amenities: on-site restaurants, L’Occitane toiletries, 24-hour fitness center, pet-friendly

Holiday events: Toys for Tots event; New Year’s Eve rooftop party

Nearby

M Street and Wisconsin Avenue
You can’t stay the weekend in Georgetown and not go shopping. Choose from big-name luxury brands like Alice + Olivia, Coach, J McLaughlin and Tory Burch, or opt for the boutique scene with shops such as the GTown Pop-UpLynn Louisa or consignment shop Pretty Chic.

Baked and Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St.
Debate continues on whether cupcakes are still a thing, but Georgetown seems to think so, with at least three cupcakeries in a half-mile radius. Baked and Wired’s version are more inspired than their TLC-promoted competitor, with snarky names and almost sinful richness. The shop also carries other baked goods, including babka and “manly” quiche.

Unwind Wellness Center
1054 Thomas Jefferson St.
Right after you polish off a Razmanian Devil cupcake and a latte, buzz next door for a bit more sugar—this time on your body. This spa’s sugar body scrub is just the thing to slough off dry winter skin. Finish off your treatment with a custom massage that blends techniques to meet your body’s needs.

Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa

The Experience: The only remaining Kimpton hotel in Alexandria (since Marriott took over Hotel Monaco and Morrison House last year), the Lorien remains a beacon of serenity and charm in Old Town. The understated modernity of the lobby, appointed with succulents and abstract paintings in honey wood frames, achieves formality without the stuffiness. Stretch out in their spacious library when you arrive as you browse the spa menu, which features a host of seasonal options. The spa recently recommended by Forbesis just an elevator ride away. Pop into their gift shop, stocked with Elemis and Zents products, as you await your appointment for their exclusive Frangipani Body Ritual (with scrubs, massage and body wrap) or Winter Superfood Recovery facial. And after your service, step into their eucalyptus-infused steam room for total tranquility. If you’re staying for more than a day, consider the Lorien’s Boutique to Boutique package, including a $100 American Express gift card, continental breakfast for two at the Brabo Tasting Room, post-shopping cocktails at Brabo and an express foot massage at the spa. When the clock strikes 5 p.m. each night, return to the lobby for complimentary wine and kick back.

Amenities: on-site restaurants, on-site spa, daily wine hour, Atelier Bloem toiletries, 24-hour fitness center, in-room yoga mats, PUBLIC bikes, pet-friendly

Holiday events: Duck L’Orange in Brabo Restaurant, Christmas Eve brunch, Christmas Eve dinner; New Year’s Eve dinner; New Year’s brunch

Nearby

Nasime
1209 King St.
For a break from everyday upscale American fare, take a short walk over to Nasime (the No. 1 restaurant on our 2017 50 Best Restaurants list) and immerse yourself in the evening’s five-course menu of Japanese food prepared by Tokyo-trained chef Yuh Shimomura. Offerings may include soup, sashimi and dessert. It’s all almost too lovely to eat, but someone’s got to.

Blüprint Chocolatiers
1001 King St.
Bite-size chocolates are the perfect alternative to the heavy peppermint mochas that pervade the winter months, and you’ll find dozens of options at the pristinely elegant Blüprint Chocolatiers. Choose from chocolates with touches of earl grey tea, whiskey, lavender buds and an array of other tantalizing flavors.

116 King Seasonal Pop-Up
116 King St.
This Old Town newcomer keeps things interesting with a rotating series of designers on display, peddling home decor, clothing, jewelry and kids items—perfect for holiday shopping or a little winter retail therapy.

Salamander Resort and Spa

The Experience: Feel the suspense as you set out on the winding lane that leads to the Salamander, an expansive resort in Middleburg’s countryside open since 2013. Known for horseback riding, fine dining and a luxury spa, the Salamander is a retreat from urban living that’s fairly close to the city. Horse memorabilia is everywhere to be had in the regal lobby, a large hall with an adjoining library and dimly lit bar. For a signature experience, book the owner’s suite, a set of rooms with a large whirlpool bathtub, “experiential shower,” two fireplaces and items from owner Sheila Johnson’s personal collection. Off the lobby sits a 2017 Best of NoVA-winning 14-room spa with an ample menu of options, including a Winter Warming Massage and a Cashmere Quench Wrap. But if you’re in the mood for something more active, sign up for a mountain bike rental, glow bocce balls, zip lining, or Camp Salamander for the little ones. And don’t forget about the 25-acre equestrian center, where you can take guided trail rides or enjoy a one-hour lesson. To maximize your time, take advantage of one of their packages, such as the Suite Holiday Getaway (welcome amenity, breakfast each day and a $100 resort credit) or Zip and Zen package (ziplining tour and massage).

Amenities: on-site restaurants, indoor pool, on-site spa, fitness center, patios or balconies outside all rooms, pet-friendly

Holiday events: gingerbread house decorating class, starts Dec. 2; Brunch with Santa, starts Dec. 9; Christmas Dinner, Dec. 23-24; Christmas Day brunch; Truffles and Bubbles, Dec. 30; New Year’s Eve Dinner and Celebration

Nearby

Mt. Defiance Cider Barn
495 E. Washington Street
The just-opened Mt. Defiance Cider Barn is an expanded facility in which to sip on a varieties of spirits and cider. Enjoy views from this 12-acre hilltop property, and curl up in a rocking chair with your drink if the weather’s mild.

Downtown Shopping
Washington Street
Historic Middleburg has a healthy helping of unique boutiques, such as Crème de la Crème, the Fun Shop and the Shaggy Ram for home goods, and Country Classics for clothing.

National Sporting Library and Museum
102 The Plains Road
Outdoor enthusiasts must stop by the sporting library to survey artifacts and writings on fly-fishing, horseback riding, dogbreeding and hunting, as well as relevant paintings and sculptures.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner

The Experience: Not everyone’s keen on staying in a hotel that’s situated in a mall, but shopping makes a great use of time in frosty weather. Just outside the double doors of the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton lie Cartier, Burberry, Gucci and David Yurman. And that theme of luxe shopping continues down the hallway into the hotel, with display cases of Prada and other top-shelf retailers. Two dining options are available off the wood-paneled lobby, the Entyse (presumably a play on “in-Tysons Corner”) Wine Bar and Lounge—which offers espresso and light food during the day, hosts afternoon teas, and transforms into a bar in the evening—and the Entyse Bistro, a full-service restaurant for breakfast, lunch and brunch. But the hotel’s biggest draw is likely their spa, which provides nearly a dozen massage therapies, including an 80-minute Mall Recovery massage that calls on spearmint, rosemary and foot reflexology to restore tired limbs. To upgrade your shop-and-stay experience, try the Retail Therapy package, which secures a full 24-hour stay and includes a $50 Tysons Galleria gift card, valet parking, shopping amenity packet and breakfast for two. If the kids are in tow, look into their Ultimate American Girl Doll package—which comes with an American Girl doll bed, robe and slippers to keep—or the Royal Camping Experience, with use of a castle tent, LED lantern and milk and cookies at turndown.

Amenities: on-site restaurants, on-site spa, indoor heated saltwater pool, 24-hour fitness center, club-level rooms with access to exclusive lounge, Italian marble bathrooms, Asprey toiletries

Holiday events: gingerbread decorating class, weekends Dec. 2-17; breakfast with Santa, Dec. 2; Nutcracker tea, weekends Dec. 9-17

Nearby

Tysons Corner Center Ice Rink
1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean
If it’s been a while since you’ve laced up a pair of skates, now may be the time to return to the rink. Skating is a classic way to embrace winter weather, and on Saturday nights it gets even more thrilling with Rock and Skate night, complete with a DJ.

Founding Farmers
1800 Tysons Blvd., McLean
Founded by a farmer aiming to celebrate locally sourced food and the farmers who supply it, Founding Farmers is a great pick for brunch or dinner. Try their cold-pressed juices, like the Roger Rabbit (a blend of carrot, apple, pear and lemon) with your roasted beet and goat cheese hash in the morning, or the Park Your Vesper in the Barn (Absolut Elyx vodka and Cocchi Americano) alongside your shrimp and lobster risotto at dinnertime.

Jammin Java
227 Maple Ave. E, Vienna
Jammin Java is the area’s authority for live, local music. Check out their slate of weekend concerts before you pick your staycation dates, and introduce yourself to a new band in an intimate and friendly setting.

Lansdowne

The Experience: A golf and relaxation destination in Leesburg since 1991 that was renovated last year, the Lansdowne Resort and Spa sports several eateries, a golf club with 45 holes, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and a communal terrace with fire pit. On a wall in the AAA Four Diamond resort’s spacious lobby, a largescale map of Loudoun County highlights the locations of the county’s wineries, breweries and distilleries, alongside an LCD-projected Discovery Wall of the day’s fitness and activity offerings. Pick up The Good Life newsletter to learn about live music events, workshops (e.g. cooking, photography, botany), social events (Paint, Pinot and Pavarotti, anyone?) and wine excursions. Speaking of wine, it permeates not just the activity guide but also the spa menu. Patrons can opt for a Signature Wine Facial, Pomegranate Wine Cooler Facial or a Cabernet and Cacao Cocoon body treatment. And to go all in, reserve the Discover Virginia Wine Country Package: deluxe accommodations, breakfast for two and roundtrip rides to two area wineries.

Amenities: on-site restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, golf club, on-site spa, Nest toiletries, transportation to wineries, fire pit, pet-friendly

Holiday events: brunch with Santa, Dec. 17; cookie decorating, Dec. 10; ornament decorating, Dec. 10; Build-a-Bear event, Dec. 10; Christmas Eve dinner; Christmas Day brunch

Nearby

Antique Shopping
Lucketts
About 20 minutes north of Lansdowne, you’ll find a bevy of shops for antiquing. Rust and Feathers and On a Whim are heavy on rustic Southern home furnishings, and the Design House at the Old Lucketts Store presents short-term interior design events with items you can purchase and load into your car.

Tuscarora Mill
203 Harrison St. SE, Leesburg
This winner of the 2017 Best of NoVA and Best of Loudoun awards sprinkles inventive dishes into its menu of American fare, like their grilled duck and sausage with asiago-basil waffle. Enjoy the beauty of the grain mill the restaurant is housed in while you dine.

Tally Ho Theater
19 W Market St., Leesburg
“I’ll Be” crooner Edwin McCain and a Queen cover band are on tap for December at the Tally Ho, the charming performance venue in downtown Leesburg that was converted from a 1930s movie theater to a live venue in 2013. If you get there early, try some house-made guacamole from Tally Ho Taco.

The Mandarin Oriental

The Experience: Anyone who’s been longing to really sink their teeth into The Wharf, D.C.’s barely opened waterfront destination for locals and tourists alike, should make a weekend of it at the Mandarin Oriental. Named a top-10 D.C. hotel by U.S. News and World Report and the best hotel spa in North and South America by the World Spa and Wellness Awards, the Mandarin Oriental is well-recognized for its luxurious accommodations and recently underwent a $20 million room renovation. Take advantage of the hotel’s new package, A Taste of Southwest D.C., which offers a two-night stay in a water-view room, $50 dining credit, $50 gift card for Mike Isabella’s new Wharf restaurant (Requin), free wifi and free parking. And while you’re there, budget some time for the spa, with experience showers (think “tropical rain”), vitality pools and unique features, such as an ice fountain for cooling off and an amethyst steam room.  If you have the means, take advantage of their nearly 3-hour long Time Rituals service, comprised of treatments tailored to your needs. When you’ve had enough relaxation and restoration, take the walking bridge down to the Wharf, where you can lose yourself in live music and warm yourself at a public firepit right off the water. (Tip: Free s’mores are offered on weekends.)

Amenities: on-site restaurants, on-site spa, indoor pool, fitness center, marble bathrooms, Atelier Cologne and Acqua di Parma toiletries

Nearby

Requin
100 District Square SW
An extension of chef Mike Isabella’s Fairfax location, The Wharf’s Requin offers French dining inside what’s essentially a work of art. The restaurant’s foldable glass walls directly overlook the Potomac River, making the experience somewhat like dining inside a sort-of greenhouse/jewelry box. Try one of their innovative cocktails, like the Ma Cherie, a blend of aperol, cava, gin, lemon and cranberry grog.

Requin. Photo by Greg Powers

The Anthem
901 Wharf St. SW
Cousin to legendary D.C. music venue the 9:30 Club, the Anthem is in its infancy but already attracting big names with its 6,000-spectator capacity—Fantasia, The National, Pentatonix and Thievery Corporation to name a few.

Tidal Basin Monuments
Tidal Basin
By way of the nearby footbridge, head toward the Tidal Basin, where you’ll find memorials that are sometimes missed amidst the wealth of options afforded by the National Mall, including the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Wharf Shops
Though upscale, Wharf retail departs from the standard luxury chains of places like Georgetown and City Center, offering unique clothing from A Beautiful Closet and D/Eleven, and curated spirits, wine and beer from Cordial. The Wharf also sports the second of what will soon be three Politics and Prose locations, featuring talks from authors such as Ann Powers (Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music)

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