Landmark Watergate hotel reopens

Eddie Applefield

I was excited when I knew I would be checking into the Watergate Hotel.  Imagine, I’d be in the area where history was made on June 17, 1972. That day a break-in was discovered at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon on Aug. 8, 1974.  

The Watergate Hotel re-opened June 1 this year (it originally opened in 1967) after a $125 million, six-year renovation. Today, it has a retro look. That is proved by the very outfits the female staff ware and the retro music in the lobby. The furniture has been custom made to look like the 1960s. There are 336 rooms and mine had a great view. Peering out, I saw Georgetown, the Potomac River, and Virginia.

The Watergate Hotel
The Watergate Hotel

The hotel isn’t completely finished yet. The formal dining room, to be called Kingbird, should open in mid-August.  The casual dining room, with the same name, and now open, serves all three meals. There will be separate menus.

Another area that’s supposed to open in August is the rooftop bar to be called Top of the Gate. Although an open-air rooftop bar, it will be heated. Food will be available and there are outstanding views of the city and Virginia.

The hotel also has a ballroom, a library, and the Next Whiskey Bar, with 2,500 whiskey bottles making up some of the walls.

The original design of the building was developed by an Italian firm on 10 acres right on the Potomac. That outside design is iconic in the city and could not be changed during the renovation because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.     

To clear up what I think is a point of confusion – the break in did not occur in the hotel. That happened at one of the office buildings that make up the Watergate complex. There are six buildings in all: three condos, two office buildings and one hotel.    

At 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, the hotel has a great location. Georgetown is about a 15 minute walk and the Kennedy Center is next door. The Potomac River is also a stone’s throw away. You can’t swim in it, but you can rent water vehicles.

If you want to spend the night, room rates, which vary with time of year and location of room, will run between $300 and $1,500. Incidentally, if you want to stay in the rooms that the burglars used the night of the break-in, they are 214 and 314. But don’t bother, because they are totally different today. 


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