Sneak Away from the City and Cozy Up in D.C.

The ongoing pandemic is undeniably terrible, but here at BELLA we are always searching for silver linings. While COVID-19 has made traveling overseas both difficult and potentially dangerous, exploring our own backyard — aka the great ol’ United States — has become the go-to for getting away.

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Road trips and domestic travel are on the rise, and with most people still working from home and staring at the same four walls day in and day out, it’s no wonder that people are venturing on little getaways. A quick train ride on Amtrak, or a 4.5 hour drive from New York City, lies our nation’s capitol — Washington D.C. Filled with history, charm and plenty to do, it’s a great city to explore on your next getaway.

Make Yourself at Home

While there is no shortage of hotels and accommodations in D.C., one of Dupont Circle’s newest neighbors, Lyle Washington DC, is a great spot that will take you in and make you feel right at home. The neighborhood hotel, which just recently opened this past April, resides in an early 1940s Art Deco building, and maintains and references many of the building’s original features. Designed by creative director Jacu Strauss, the property feels at once cozy and stately, with artistic enhancements found throughout the property.

A stay at the Lyle won’t set you back on your budget, either, rooms start at $149 a night, and their minimalist, light and welcoming air will have you relaxing in no time. The Burl wood Art Deco headboards stand out against the white, bright rooms, and many of the accommodations include kitchenettes should you want to stay a while. If there’s no events going on during your stay, we recommend heading downstairs to the hotel’s conservatory and drawing room, where you’d be remiss not to enjoy a good book or quiet conversation with your travel companion(s).

On the lobby level resides Lyle’s, a neighborhood bar and restaurant that serves up contemporary American fare and will leave you rolling back to your room. The striking restaurant oozes a unique elegance with its signature white couch and adorning light fixtures as the centerpiece, but the food is nothing to miss, either. Standouts include the fried chicken, king salmon, corn agnolotti, and burrata salad. Swing by for an invigorating breakfast here, as well.

Explore the Monuments

For locals they might be blasé, but for tourists, they’re the main attraction. Washington D.C. has no shortage of monuments and memorials to explore, and if you’re from out of town, it’s worth checking some of them out. A stroll down the National Mall gives you a good dose of nature (it is America’s most visited national park), while ushering you towards the Lincoln Memorial. From here, it’s only a short walk to both the Vietnam’s Women Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. A short walk away you will also find the National WWII Memorial, as well as the Jefferson Memorial, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And whether or not you agree with some of the politics behind a certain few of these memorials, the architecture itself at least is beautiful.

Toast the Town

Like the monuments, you will also find no shortage of watering holes here in D.C. For a fancy night out, hit up Off the Record, a speakeasy bar located in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel, which Forbes touted as one of the World’s Best Bars. The dimly lit den has old-school vibes with plush red seating and walls strewn with fun caricatures of political figures. While they do serve light bites, you’d be remiss not to try one of their two most popular cocktails — the always pleasing espresso martini, or their classic pear martini. The service here is on point and you’ll have fun people watching from your seat.

Another hotel bar that should definitely be on your list is Silver Lyan, located in an old bank vault at the Riggs Hotel (the sister hotel to the Lyle!). Helmed by Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan), the swanky bar and lounge exudes a whimsical, yet sophisticated spirit. Each cocktail is expertly crafted and appropriately presented, each in its own carefully chosen vessel. You can’t go wrong no matter what you opt for here, and you best bet we’ll be back to try their infamous jello fruit basket (which is exactly what it sounds like but better).

Added Benefits

Besides the monuments and the drinks, there’s plenty else to see and do while you’re out and about in D.C. The Lyle’s convenient location in Dupont Circle situates visitors near charming streets with gorgeous homes that are great to explore during a neighborhood walk or on a morning run. A few blocks away you will find Kramers, an independent bookstore and café that is ideal to spend a rainy day inside (bonus: they also have Sunday night jazz from 6-8pm).

Tatte Bakery is a hopping bakery and coffee shop nearby that offers a mouthwatering-looking brunch, delicious pastries and treats, and of course, your daily dose of caffeine. Don’t miss D.C.’s well-known eatery, Founding Farmers, conveniently located right near the White House and other monuments. The bustling locale focuses on farm fresh food with dishes made from scratch right in house. They put a huge emphasis on sustainability and even have composting and recycling programs in place to help avoid their waste going to landfills. All that aside, the food is delicious and the space is chic.

International Spy Museum: Washington DC, Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners Architects; Ehxibit Designers: Gallabger and Associates

Washington D.C. is also home to quite a few prestigious museums, including a few Smithsonians, the National Portrait Gallery, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and handfuls more. On our visit, we opted to get a hands-on experience at the International Spy Museum. Fun for both kids and adults alike, the interactive museum delves into the world of espionage, first giving each visitor a cover and mission to complete before the end of their visit. Inside the exhibits you will learn about codes and ciphers, spymasters and engineers, covert missions, and try your hand at common spy techniques and tactics. Before you leave, you will be debriefed on your mission and learn how you fared.

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