>>>Watergate Hotel, in the company of spies

Watergate Hotel, in the company of spies

Nearly 50 years after the fall of Nixon, the hotel that witnessed one of the biggest political conspiracies in American history has reopened its doors, and it’s now more glamorous than ever.
O
n the night of 17 June 1972, the thieves, who had checked into rooms 214 and 314 of the Watergate Hotel, finished their lobster dinners. And then sneaked into the nearby Washington DC headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Disguised as plumbers, their mission was to install microphones for espionage, steal documents and perform other clandestine activities. They were discovered by the police, who found a cheque signed by a former CIA agent in one of their rooms. The investigation, initiated by two journalists from The Washington Post, revealed connections to the Nixon administration. Two years later, the scandal forced the president to resign. It was a singular event in the country’s history.
The luxury of the Diplomat Suite resides in its views and interior design.
Photo: The Watergate Hotel

Luxury landing

Ron Arad’s mission was to bring the natural landscape and architecture from the local area into the hotel. The building’s façade and the Potomac river inspired him to try to recreate an enormous luxury yacht, through curved lines, marble and shiny metal.

Closed since 2007, and later sold at auction, the Watergate has reopened its doors, financed by Jacques and Rakel Cohen, and blessed with the creative touch of Israeli designer Ron Arad. Their intention is to recover the aura of luxury and exclusivity radiated by the residential and office complex before the scandal. Far from concealing its blemished history, the hotel pays tribute to it through a host of innuendos and allusions. The message “No need to break in” is written on the electronic keys, while the free pens carry the phrase “I stole this pen at the Watergate Hotel”. The typeface used on all the hotel documents was inspired by the legal documents from the scandal, and the customer service phone number ends 6-17-1972, in honour of that infamous night. But that’s not all: in the background music played in the bathrooms, you can hear fragments from speeches by Nixon.
The restoration has preserved the original façade by Luigi Moretti, which evokes the sails of a boat, as well as the main staircase and indoor pool. Over six years, the new owners have invested 179 million euros to complete the 336 rooms (including 24 premiere suites, six diplomat suites and two presidential ones), a restaurant, a bar, a spa measuring over 1,000 square metres, two swimming pools, and a ballroom for conferences and events. The terrace bar, Top of the Gate, offers panoramic views of the city, including over the Potomac river, the Cathedral, Capitol Building and Washington Monument.
The Kingbird restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Photo: The Watergate Hotel
Its sumptuous interior design, with details in marble, metal and wood, is reminiscent of the golden age of the 50s and 60s, when artists like Elizabeth Taylor and Plácido Domingo, and politicians like Robert McNamara and Bob Dole, would stay the night here. The elegance culminates in the new staff uniforms, designed by Janie Bryant, costume supervisor for the television series Mad Men, so chic they would seduce Don Draper himself.
Deep Throat, the secret informant of journalists Woodward and Bernstein, would feel right at home in the new hotel bar.
Photo: The Watergate Hotel
Some 44 years after the biggest scandal in the political history of the United States, Washington DC has recovered a legendary establishment. But, the scandal will soon have competition. Republican candidate and real-estate magnate Donald Trump is going to open a new hotel this year, a stone’s throw from the White House. Will microphones be included with room service?

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