The Kimpton Banneker Hotel officially welcomed itself to the historic 16th Street in downtown D.C. earlier this week, using its namesake’s birthday to throw one hell of a grand opening party.
On November 9, guests were greeted with a constellation map that panned out the evening’s schedule, paying homage to Benjamin Banneker, the famous surveyor and astronomer who established the meridian line where the hotel sits today.
The entire evening was planned perfectly to show off the hotel’s stylish contemporary interior facelift (previously the Kimpton Rouge), delicious food and drink offerings and the enviable 16th Street location views it offers guests.
We made our way through the warmly lit hotel lobby and there got our first sample of the hotel’s thoughtfully curated abstract art collection, which includes both native Washingtonians as well as international artists who highlight the energy and culture of the historic neighborhood. From the lobby mural by D.C.-based Nigerian American artist Victor Ekpuk to the impressive three-dimensional artwork lining the walls of the public spaces and guest rooms, the hotel could easily rival any abstract gallery’s offering.
The hotel’s local artistic footprint continued as we headed into the event space on the first floor, where we took in an incredible exhibit of artists, hosted by Black Artist of DC. Founded in 1999, the non-profit organization’s purpose is “to sustain a thriving community that promotes, develops and validates the cultures, artistic expressions and aspirations of artist of Black-Afrikan ancestry — especially those with close ties to the District.”
From there we made our way upstairs to a tour of the generously sized rooms and it was there I started to plan my staycation. Walking through, I was fighting every inch of myself not to jump into the plush bed and enjoy a moment of utter relaxation (soon Kimpton, soon).
The premium room has so much space I could easily hold a morning yoga practice with friends in the room (each room provides yoga mats), then go and take a heavenly soak in the tub, followed by lounging in my plush robe while taking in the D.C. views (I told you I was planning my staycation).
Next, we were led to the Presidential Suite, where the birthday party got taken up a considerable notch. We were greeted with champagne and a seafood raw bar spread that had my undivided attention for a solid few moments. Venturing into the bedroom of the suite, the record player was on playing Marvin Gaye, and as I sipped champagne, I continued to peruse the suite’s one-of-a-kind art.
It was here, the hotel also got after my Parisian loving heart. We indulged in the first sampling of the hotel’s signature French bistro restaurant Le Sel. The lounge area of the gorgeous suite was covered in plates of Madeleines and macaroons.
And then, it was time to venture upstairs to arguably the prom queen of the ball, the Lady Bird rooftop bar (named after First Lady, Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson), where the finale of the evening ensued. It was also at this point that my plus one’s eyes almost shot out of his face, as a tray of the largest Tomahawk steaks we’ve ever seen made its way to the carving station.
It’s D.C., so the minute a new rooftop option comes to the mix, everyone wants in and the Lady Bird was no exception. Having opened at the beginning of October, the rooftop gem had already seen a steady flow of fans, and from my experience this evening, I could completely understand why. For starters, the views are likely the best in D.C., with a clear, uninterrupted vision of the Washington Monument and the White House. On top of which, the space itself — all 1,200 square feet of it — feels like you’re in a stylish garden rather than downtown D.C. The eye-catching golden fanned-out light structures above, inviting teal couch spaces and overhanging greenery, complemented the space’s airy and leisurely feel.
We made our way outdoors to take in the aforementioned breathtaking views while lounging at one of the many firepits. Continuing the artistic expression of the evening, guests enjoyed live music on the rooftop bar (a feature you can enjoy regularly) and a live painting exhibition by local artist Emon Surakitkoson.
The culinary experience also continued to impress with an enjoyable selection of hors d’oeuvres that are a regular feature on the Lady Bird rooftop menu (thanks to Le Sel executive chef Laurent Hollaender): Mouthwatering goat cheese and cornmeal beignets, and the crushed olive chimichurri boneless chicken thigh bites were two of our favorites. All were enjoyed with an equally pleasing selection of cocktails for the evening, and you guessed it, an ample amount of champagne.
And I would be remiss if I did not give a shoutout to the exceptionally talented creator of the delicious birthday cake, Sabrina Hare, owner of Couture Cakes by Sabrina. Hotel Banneker General Manager Raeshawna Scott cut into the stunning confection at the latter part of the evening, which tasted as exceptional as it looked.
By the end of the night, I had not only finalized planning my staycation at Kimpton Banneker but also future birthday celebrations, cocktail gatherings, holiday functions and more.
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