Spring has opened its eyes here in the Capitol, and the first visually stunning awakening comes from the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms, “Sakura” in Japanese, are a gift from Tokyo, first given to Washington, DC in 1912 and again in 1965. Another gift, the Mandarin Oriental, found its roots on the Potomac in 2004, when Brennan Beer Gorman Monk (BBGM, est. 1984) Architects and HBA/Hirsh Bedner Associates (1964) collaborated to bring their seamless attention-to-detail to Washington.
This property serves as a beacon, overlooking the Tidal Basin with two fanning wings holding 400 rooms, with a manicured terrace, all very reverent to Feng Shui elemental design. Rich tones of Amarillo yellow marble and rich lacquered oak frame the rotunda entrance that seems to usher you into the Empress Lounge.
As you walk past the circular lobby, you will see, “Above Washington, DC,” a commissioned painting by Zhong-Yang Huang that tells the story of the unity of East and West. Walk down the hallway to the right and see onyx marble transformed into an art form.
Straight ahead is the Empress Lounge, named for the last Chinese empress, Dowager. This space hosts a collection of young families, and men and women in suits enjoying their accomplishments with classic martinis that need nothing more than an olive, onion or twist. The Empress Lounge has a full menu of Asian inspired drinks; some served with orchids, lychee, sake or elder flower. Perfectly placed custom furniture is refined and inviting. Bringing good conversation will help service move along more efficiently, and personal knowledge of your drink tastes will be beneficial.
There are two restaurants to the left of the entrance; CityZen and Sou’Wester, with menus presented by Executive Chef Eric Ziebold, and Chef de Cuisine Rachael Harriman, respectively. At CityZen, a Chef’s and Vegetarian tasting (artichoke fricassee) menus are offered as well as a three course, where the lamb rib-eye is recommended. The sexy interior was created by Tony Chi. Sou’Wester menu is American based comfort food.
The evening was enjoyed on the open terrace of the hotel. In a humorous note, boisterous conversations from trade associations, were reverently “muted” as POTUS’s Marine One surveyed the horizon. With elemental design providing the yin and the yang, you too can encourage positive chi. If nothing else, enjoy a springtime escape with champagne and sushi at the Mandarin Oriental.
On Friday and Saturday nights, they showcase Washington, D.C.’s top jazz vocalists from 8pm to midnight. From May 15.
1330 Maryland Avenue Southwest
Washington, DC 20024