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A luxury hotel named for two important Washington legends

The closest hotel to The White House (from the Hay-Adams' rooftop)

The closest hotel to The White House (from the Hay-Adams’ rooftop)

The gal likes to learn the truth. She always thought that The White House‘s closest hotel, the Hay-Adams, was named for John Quincy Adams, but when she started researching that President (shown, he was in office 1825-1829) and then the Adams of the Hay-Adams, they are not the same.

The hotel is on the site of two adjacent houses, one belonging to one-time Secretary of State John Hay, 1838-1905, the other to American historian Henry Adams, 1838-1918. Now let the story return to this outstanding hotel, which opened in 1928, designed by Armenian architect Mihran Mesrobian. Its nine floors have 143 rooms: its year-round rooftop has the most amazing views in all of the nation’s capital, right across Lafayette Park to The White House.

Healthy Hans Bruland

Healthy Hans Bruland

Hans Bruland is a one-time chef who now, as boss of the Hay-Adams hotel, personifies fitness and philanthropy. He makes a green smoothie for his breakfast and then walks to work, at least 20 minutes – and he has lovely bikes for his guests to tour the city. This part of DC is known as the Golden Triangle, stretching from in front of The White House to Dupont Circle, 169 city blocks in all, an area in which 85,000 work every day. The Golden Triangle BID, established 1997, is funded by a tax paid by all the area’s property owners and has a $5.39 million budget this year, which pays for health and safety programmes and generally brightening and lightning. Hans Bruland is on the board of The Golden Triangle BID, as he is, too, of Washington Performing Arts, another admirable organisation. Sponsored by local embassies and culture lovers (plus celebrities of the calibre of Lang Lang, Wynton Marsalis and Yo Yo Ma), fund-raising events enable arts programmes to go out into 80 local public schools.

Washington Performing Arts gospel choir

Washington Performing Arts gospel choir

The South African embassy sponsored the 2015 annual summer camp, week-long camps that enable over 200 under-privileged kids to connect with the countryside, and the arts – in this instance learning South African music and dance. The Society also monitors a gospel choir, which has even sung at The White House. And in between all those good works, Hans Bruland is doing yet another good deed, keeping the Hay-Adams as a home-from-home for so many (40% of hotel guests are repeats, many business and political regulars who even leave clothes here when they head to their ‘real’ home at weekends). Hoteliers of the supreme calibre of Christian Clerc call in here, when in town, as do top luxury media names like Tiffany Dowd. Locals, too, throng the place, using the lower-level Off The Record bar, where there are dozens of politico cartoons, loaned by the Library of Congress, by 2012 Pulitzer winner Matt Wuerker. Locals also breakfast, lunch and dine at Lafayette, reached through the intimate panelled lobby where, so appreciated in summer, cool drinks are waiting.

Down at ground level

Down at ground level

Just across 16th Street is St John’s Church, where the President traditionally attends. This luxury hotel is so well located, actually, that it is two minutes to the church, and eight minutes, through Lafayette Park, to the White House. But unless you have an invitation, dear traveller, you will not get through its gates…