I have a thing for Fairmont hotels. I’ve visited nearly a dozen over the past decade, from China to Hawaii and everywhere in between, and my mom and I will be staying in a few of the Canadian properties while on a mother-daughter trip next month. Just this past weekend, in fact, SVV and I jetted off to D.C. for a quick 48-hour Fairmont getaway, but nothing prepared me for just how magical the Fairmont Washington, D.C. (and the city in general) would be over the holidays.
Looking for a last minute holiday getaway? Here’s why the Fairmont is the ultimate D.C. Christmas hotel, in our very educated opinion.
The Fairmont Washington, D.C. Rooms
The entire Fairmont Washington, D.C. and its 413 rooms recently underwent a head-to-toe renovation to the tune of $27 million. The upgraded look was unveiled during inauguration week, and the fresh look meant that were it not for the other offerings on tap, I might not have left my room.
I love the modern aesthetic—the building was constructed in 1985, so it was due for an upgrade—and the way the design has woven in elements of D.C.’s culture in a contemporary way.
Our ninth floor suite overlooked the central courtyard (I highly suggest requesting such a room with such a view), which is decked out for the holidays and has fire pits, trees, lights and even an ice skating rink.
I couldn’t stop snapping photos of the lobby, as the halls are decked and trees are trimmed with the kind of clean sheik you’d expect at a Fairmont. In addition to the permanent lobby art installations, the main room is ingeniously divided by a sort of glass tile chain mail, suspended at strategic points between the bar, lounge area and restaurant entrance to create a common space that is actually comfortable to use, whether for dining or work.
Did you know that during the month of December, Santa lives at the Fairmont Washington, D.C.? I didn’t either! But I met up with the legend in the flesh while he was kicking it in his eighth floor digs. (He was quick to tell me he had to take the elevator down since the hotel has no chimney.)
Fairmont may be a luxury hotel, but it’s extremely kid-friendly (and pet-friendly, too!). So much so that the team set up an entire suite for Santa himself, and guests of the hotel can arrange a time to stop by and see Jolly Old Saint Nick on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. You can even see his suite from the courtyard, and you know Santa’s there because the green light is on.
He’s got a letter-writing station, a table glitzed out and ready to include his fairytale pals (Sponge Bob and Elsa were both on the place cards while I was visiting) and candy aplenty to hype up the little ones. There’s a fun story to accompany his residency, including the fact that he lands his sleigh on the roof with the beehives (yes, there’s an on-site apiary!) and loves the Fairmont’s signature warm, walnut-honey bread (Santa and I have this in common). Of course, there are also photo opps and the chance for your kiddos to tell Santa what’s on their Christmas list. It’s the only Santa Suite in D.C., and even as an adult, I got sucked into the magic of it all.
Ice Skating, Mulled Wine & Hot Chocolate
There’s a small, sustainably engineered 900-square-foot ice rink outside of the hotel in the courtyard where guests and non-guests alike can take a twirl ($5 for an hour and rental skates). The rink is open to the public on weekdays from 2 to 8pm and on weekends from 10am to 8pm. It’s not actually ice, but instead a teflon type slippery tile that seems way safer and obviously, environmentally neutral.
But my favorite part was the mulled wine, no big surprise, which is the perfect complement to the outdoor fire pits that encircle the rink. It wasn’t even that cold during our visit, but nothing gets me in the holiday spirit like a steaming glass of spices soaked in fermented grape juice that smell like Christmas (and taste like it, too!).
For the kiddos—OK, we each had a mug, as well!—there’s a hot chocolate bar ($5) where you can dress up your own sprinkles-dipped mug with candy canes, marshmallows and a whole lot more.
The space is particularly stunning at night when it’s awash in the soft glow of Christmas lights.
Holiday Modern Afternoon Tea
Without a doubt, my favorite part of any Fairmont stay is the brand’s iconic afternoon tea. But the Fairmont Washington, D.C. goes one step further by creating an entire holiday-themed menu.
Lot 35 Tea Company created a handful of specialty blends just for the occasion. I drank an entire pot of Fairmont’s Signature Winter Blend while SVV was drawn to the Snow Dragon. And OK, we may have also consumed a bottle of rosé champagne alongside our tea.
The food, of course, was the standout. The spread arrived on a two-tiered wood and slate bento box and was full of savory delights and some truly delicious sweet treats: cranberry mascarpone mousse, gingerbread cake, pumpkin eclairs and Earl Grey macaroons. I’m salivating just mentally reliving that moment.
Eating & Drinking at the Fairmont
We wound up eating most of our meals at the Fairmont Washington, D.C.: breakfast in the Fairmont Gold lounge, lunch in the lobby and dinners at Juniper Restaurant. We easily could have spent the entire weekend in our Georgetown hotel with no need to leave.
The drinks, no doubt, were a standout. I’m a big fan of a traditional Old Fashioned, and the hotel makes a dang good one. But I’m also a lover of gin and tonics, which is why The Craft was my overall favorite drink.
Want to try something you can only get at the hotel? Order the Beetini, the Fairmont Washington, D.C.’s signature drink made with—you guessed it—honey from the rooftop bees.
If you’ve got kids in town, there’s an entire Winter Wonderland Dinner Menu that features such meals as Rudolph’s Chicken Noodle Soup or Santa’s Spaghetti.
What’s your favorite Christmas hotel you’ve ever stayed in?