Much like the daily routine of Wile E Coyote and Ralph Wolf (his sheepdog nemesis), the careful calibration of the DC political social scene has relied on Congressional sorts ripping each other—and their policies—to shreds on the House/Senate floor, then sharing a back slap and a stiff martini with one another at the Hay Adams Bar round about 7pm.
That’s virtually all gone now, as those across the aisle regard one another as a snake regards a mongoose. So seeking instead the greatest possible levels of comfort and joy on our most recent holiday visit to the capital, we strategically checked into the new-ish Moxy Washington, DC Downtown, positioned just far enough away from the sinister machinations on Capitol Hill – and with a keen understanding of how to have fun while Rome burns all around you.
Moxy the brand debuted in 2014 in Milan (my, how six years flies…), and has since come to epitomize a new sort of 3-star cool, with smallish/stylish rooms, quite reasonable rates, and lots of action going on downstairs.
Here’s what we loved about the Moxy DC.
It can sometimes seem a little overly cute to have a check-in desk that also functions as a coffee bar / hipster shuffleboard / eco-warrior information station. And at the Moxy DC, it is purposefully unclear at first who it is that is charged with handing you your room key. But a beacon of warmth and seasonal cheer named Rachel greeted us with such a force of endearing welcomeness, that we couldn’t help but beam right back at her. A very good start.
And she was, indeed, performing said task from behind a multi-purposed fueling station—similar to that at the Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof—which is busy at breakfast, buzzy all day, and a genuine scene in the evenings.
The Moxy couldn’t be better placed in a city that is not always eminently walkable. And heading north from the hotel (a very short distance), we came upon the glittering City Center complex, where we shared an afternoon prosecco at the charmingly bougie Fig & Olive, before browsing the luxe offerings at Dior, Bulgari, Ferragamo and Zadig+Voltaire. Walking further, we came upon the high-energy Dupont Circle. But a short stroll afterwards in the opposite direction took us to the National Portrait Gallery and then the sprawling culture complex that is the Smithsonian collection of museums – where the Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial is still going on.
Dior at City Center
As we have noted in previous coverage, DC’s downtown has been developing quite handsomely architecturally (unlike the hideous state of NYC development). And so our 13th floor, and very well windowed room allowed us a spectacular vantage point from which to take it all in. Also included in the view was the handsome 19th Century Asbury United Methodist Church (on the National Register of Historic Places) just up the road.
As is the Moxy credo, rooms are small and quite well designed, with pegs instead of closets, and tables you can fold up and hang on the wall. We admit we weren’t quite sure why our room came with so many inflatable pink flamingoes—but we loved the cool greys-and-whites minimalism. And the spotlights on either side of the bed were a cheeky touch.
Throughout the hotel there are, of course, also the Moxy’s signature bunks, should you be a touring band from Minneapolis or Liverpool.
We are partial to a lobby scene that is reasonably amorphous, so it seems like at any moment you might just flop into a comfy couch, and quickly be handed a drinks menu – even at 11 in the morning (we didn’t test that theory). We actually took our place on one of the stylish Moxy Bar sofas on an early Sunday evening (admittedly, we hadn’t gone to church), and quickly discerned that there were quite a few music biz sorts hanging about, make phone deals and such…along with the usual mediarati types and just generally not uptight people.
The foosball table has become a bit de rigueur in Moxy type hotels, though we admittedly find the game a bit mentally exhausting—so we skipped it to focus on the entertaining people watching. The general design vibe was one of kitsch and charming sensory overload, with the hotel proudly proclaiming its iconoclasm by shunning the typical sparkly lobby Christmas tree, instead opting for a pink plastic one adorned with, yes, more similarly colored flamingoes.
When we were attending the opening of the aforementioned Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof in late 2016, we noticed an interesting phenomenon: breakfast, usually a hushed affair with everyone’s noses in their newspapers or their mobiles, was actually a bit of a scene, as if it were seven in the evening. The Moxy DC had a similar sort of morning energy, since the bar / check-in desk was actually – you guessed it – also the breakfast area.
And rather than the usual trend-flogging menu of avocado toasts and maple-bourbon pancakes, were were offered something called a “breakfast naan”—essentially, Indian flatbread slathered in cream cheese, and then piled with more cheese and bacon, and heated up into a sort of Eastern morning pizza. It is literally worth checking in just for that, it was so deliciously decadent. Plus, they have fresh squeezed orange juice—something we’ve come to expect more of the Waldorfs and Mandarins.
As we’ve come to learn, the Moxy is always good for surprise or two.