These days so much of history is left in the rear view mirror in favor of the Instagrammable immediate: “Look at us in this photo ready environment!” And no bother about the story behind the location. Yet the past is the most learned teacher (because she has experienced, well, everything); and when we let ourselves embrace the historical we are invariably left with a more profound sense of the present – especially relevant in these times of such tense, divisive politics.
A recent outing to DC – where most of that political sniping is goes on – was a decidedly profound one for us, mostly because we had managed to charm our way into front row seats to the Rolling Stones, who just happen to be currently taking the States by storm on their rescheduled No Filter Tour. But we also found a new favorite hotel in the capital, the impressively grandiose, and recently redesigned Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC – which, yes, happens to hold quite a bit of history in its walls.
To be sure, the awe-inspiring neo-classical edifice, once the city’s General Post Office, debuted in the late 19th century, the handiwork of Robert Mills, designer of the Washington Monument, along with Thomas Walter, one of the architects of the U.S. Capital building. The block-wide, four-story marble masterpiece stills conveys a stately dignity, without being at all intimidating. It being a Kimpton hotel, a low key cool prevails from the moment you enter.
We took off on a long march to our room down a wide boulevard of a hallway that would likely even impress habitués of the Champs-Élysées. Or awesomely spacious room boasted elegantly contrasting patterns, with a grandly proportioned bed and elegant toile wall covering in the enormous bathroom. We weren’t quite sure what the 4-foot-wide white lion head sculpture over the bed signified, if anything – but we went ahead and made it our temporary spirit animal.
Our favorite feature? Just out our window and across F Street was the National Portrait Gallery, with its solemnly majestic Greek Revival architecture. We could have stared for hours.
The National Portrait Gallery
The next day happened to be the 4th of July, which meant we could also look forward to a front row seat to the spectacle that was the parade of 45 supporters – the likes of which we rarely come across in Brooklyn – there for the tanks and fireworks (not necessarily in that order).
But the 3rd’s main event took us to FedExField for 120-odd minutes of mother****ing rock & roll. And should you be hanging on to any doubts regarding the ability of those four septuagenarian “boys” to shake a stadium to is foundations, we could have confirmed them unfounded by the opening chords of “Jumping Jack Flash,” along with Messrs. Jagger and Richards making their usual grand entrance. Our jaws remained on the floor for the following two hours, and our smartphones remained in our pockets – knowing full well that no image on an Instagram page would imprint the moment in our own historical record as well as affording the Stones our rapt attention.
Still on our clouds hours later we settled into a booth at the Monaco’s fittingly named restaurant Dirty Habit (of which Keith has had a few), for the post show come down. Laid out in the neo-classical courtyard of the hotel – what the interior rooms look dramatically out on to – the outdoor patio was the perfect setting for a few Keef inspired bourbon based Spruce Gooses, made with the perhaps slightly less rock and roll ingredients apricot eau de vie, acid-adjusted grapefruit bergamot, and amaro nonino. No worries, as we learned long ago not to try to mimic our rocker heroes’ habits too closely.
Even rock and rollers need a good night’s sleep – and we got lost in the prodigious, and prodigiously comfy king bed back up in our room. Waking on the 4th to discover streets teeming with adulators heading to the National Mall to take part in their own brand of hero worship, we managed to entertain ourselves for a bit with the dubious pageantry. Then, having hit the road heading north, and knowing the next Stones show was in Boston, we considered driving straight on through and solidifying our own devotee status.
We’ll let you wonder how it ended.