The nation’s Capital has a new Waldorf Astoria and it’s every bit of luxury that guests would hope for. Set on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks away from the White House and located in the Old Post Office and Clock Tower Building, it’s central and historic — one of the reasons why Hilton decided to place the luxurious brand in Washington, D.C.
“Washington, D.C., is such an incredible destination and we are thrilled to expand our presence in the nation’s capital. Waldorf Astoria properties have a unique sense of place and the stunning design of Washington D.C.’s Old Post Office paired with its incredible legacy, creates an unforgettable experience,” shares Senih Geray, the hotel’s general manager, who notes the historic property’s original wainscoting and wooden doors in guest rooms as well as the ability to tour the recently reopened Old Post Office Clock Tower, operated by the National Park Service.
The hotel sold in May to CGI Merchant Group for $375 million, who have taken over the lease, and rebranded it into Hilton’s famed luxury brand, the Waldorf Astoria. It’s the most a hotel has ever been sold for in Washington with per room sales being $1.43 million for each room, according to Washington Business Journal.
After entering the lobby, guests will notice the ornate metal braces that support the hotel. Built from 1892 to 1899, it was the headquarters for the U.S. Post Office Department and the DC post office. Nancy Hanks (the second chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts) fought to keep the hotel from being destroyed, much like Jackie Kennedy fought to keep N.Y.’s Grand Central Station from being torn down in 1975. The Old Post was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Rooms range from $675-$26,700 a night (the Waldorf Townhouse suite being the most expensive). The King Bed Guestroom with 390 square feet is spacious and luxurious. The Junior Suite with 1 King Bed starts at $1,862 per night offers city views and quintessentially classic décor. The Capitol One Bedroom Suite is 1,645 square feet and comes with two marble bathrooms, a very large living room with desk nook area, and large bedroom with a ceiling mounted canopy bed. The Franklin One Bedroom Suite, the Presidential One Bedroom Suite, and the Waldorf Townhouse Suite are all in line with Waldorf Astoria luxury standards. Some rooms come with dark wood paneling or white paneling, and all rooms come with a Nespresso machine, spa- like bathrooms, bathrobes, electric sheers and drapes, safe, and clothes steamer.
“As we enter the Washington D.C. market, our goal is to be the epicenter of the social scene. Whether clients are looking to host a gala event or a wedding in our ballroom – which is the biggest ballroom in all the luxury hotels in the city – or locals are simply catching up with colleagues after work at Peacock Alley, our signature dining concept, which offers all-day dining and a bespoke cocktail program, we look forward to welcoming travelers and Washingtonians alike,” continues Geray.
The former Benjamin Bar & Lounge on the lobby level was rebranded as Peacock Alley when the hotel was taken over. It’s a standard Waldorf Astoria restaurant seen in all hotels filled with dark blue velvet sofas and lamps. Dishes include classic shrimp cocktail, Miso Ora salmon and Wagyu ribeye, plus for dessert, the rich and decadent Banana Foster Bread Pudding. In the evenings with the lights turned down, Peacock Alley is perfect for after-work drinks in the mammoth bar or for a romantic dinner.
Coming this year is Bazaar, from José Andrés’ restaurant chain. A fixture in DC, the renowned Spanish chef owns other Washington restaurants including Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel Cocina, and China Chilcanco. Announced by the chef in June via Twitter, the restaurant is a long time in the making. When it was the Trump International Hotel, Andrés was due to open a Spanish restaurant in the hotel but it fell through after then-president Donald Trump made negative comments about immigrants and Andrés pulled out. The chef, an immigrant from Spain, later said that, “The perception that Mr. Trump’s statements were anti-Hispanic made it very difficult to recruit appropriate staff for a Hispanic restaurant, to attract the requisite number of Hispanic food patrons for a profitable enterprise.” Andrés’ move sparked a $10 million lawsuit from the Trump Organization. The suit was settled in 2017 out of court.
Of the partnership with Andrés, Geray continues, “We are continuing that tradition with exciting food and beverage concepts at Waldorf Astoria Washington DC, which includes The Bazaar by José Andrés, showcasing a vibrant mix of sophisticated cuisine, artful service and creativity. We are incredibly honored to work with José Andrés and look forward to sharing more about this partnership over the coming months.”
The Waldorf Astoria Spa is a new amenity to the hotel. Clocking in at 10,000 square feet, it includes a rain waterfall from ceiling to floor in the relaxation room. Treatments range from massages, facials, body and detox sessions to salt therapy. “We introduced our first spa in the nation’s capital across our Hilton portfolio, with six rejuvenating treatment rooms including couples’ suites and a Himalayan Salt Therapy room,” noted Geray.
Previous owner Trump leased the Old Post office in 2013 from the U.S. General Services Administration, a government agency, through a revocable trust. As the U.S. government owns the property, DJT Holdings LLC, a Trump company obtained the lease, by agreeing to pay $250,000 per month in rent, with yearly increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.
By mid 2014 the Trump Organization began the $200 million-dollar renovation on the Old Post Office turning it into the Trump International Hotel DC. During the Trump presidency, the hotel was a bastion of hustle and bustle; notably many conservative groups stayed at the property and hosted events there. But like a lot of things with COVID, the hotel’s traffic waned, and the Trump Organization began to speak of selling in 2019. After the sale of the property was completed in May, Hilton speedily rebranded it without making many design changes.
Geray touts that the staff is one of the chief things that makes the hotel a stand-out under Hilton. What really sets our hotel apart from our properties in the DC area is our service,” says Geray. “Delivered through every team member and dedicated personal concierges, our sincerely elegant service offers guests an unmatched graceful and personalized experience from the moment a guest books to the time they check out.”