The concierge ushers me into the inner sanctum of the 49-room canal-side hotel. He gives me his card and says that I can call him if there’s anything that I need. Check-in is conducted in the soaringly high-ceilinged guest lounge rather than at a reception desk. There’s an instant private member’s club feel – exclusivity and relaxation intertwined.
Georgetown likes to think of itself as a separate city from Washington – it’s a handsome, leafy, red-brick enclave of boutique shopping, Victorian architecture and palpable Old World atmospherics. There’s an air of nose-up refinement, livened up by the influx of students from Georgetown University, and a manageable sense of charming smallness compared to the grand, posturing boulevards of central DC.
There’s a strong focus on sophisticated liveability, with plenty of space and a reassuringly masculine look. It’s soaked in calm, authoritative grace, with the comforting qualities usually associated with a Morgan Freeman voice-over. Included are soundproofed walnut flooring, mood-changing electronic master-switches by the bed and door, padded armchairs with matching footstools and thick-mattressed, hyper-comfortable beds. The brown-and-black marble bathrooms, with free-standing baths, massive walk-in showers and separate vanity tables, are dreamy.
The rooftop terrace and (admittedly tiny) pool with views out over the Potomac River and Washington Monument should make the Capella something of an in-crowd hot spot. But they’re reserved purely for guests. That’s the strongest indicator of the classy, unshowy vibe that the Capella pulls off handsomely – it lures in people who may well have money and power, but don’t feel the need to brag about it.
A week before arrival, a “personal assistant” calls to ask if I have any preferences. As long as you’re not asking for gold-plated unicorns, they’ll have it ready for you when you arrive and free of charge – whether that’s a certain type of chocolate bar or particular brand of soft drink. There’s some string-pulling par excellence once there, as well, whether it’s securing bargain, last-minute car rental or getting a guest’s kid a walk-on part during a Washington Ballet performance.
The Grill Room restaurant is underwhemingly staid. The 40-day dry-aged rib-eye steak was too fatty and bland for US$56 (Dh206), although the $14 (Dh51) yellow butternut squash soup with rabbit and black garlic ravioli starter was enjoyably flavoursome. But it’s an ultra-safe menu.
Having idle conversation about snacks and drinks that I enjoy, going out for the day, then returning to find said snacks and drinks waiting in the room.
At $48 (Dh176) per night, plus tax, for valet parking, you expect your car to get its own personal assistant and limitless supply of free refreshments, too.
The Capella is set up with the idea that true luxury is a stress-free comfort rather than attention-grabbing, shiny decoration. It succeeds marvellously, exuding a warm, relaxed richness. It feels like somewhere to happily call home for a few weeks and, even at this end of the market, its service levels stand out from the pack.
The bottom line
King rooms start at $535 (Dh1,965), including tax but excluding breakfast, with suites costing from $1,840.50 (Dh6,760). 1050 31st Street NW, Georgetown, Washington (www.capellahotels.com/washingtondc/georgetown, 001 202 617 2400).
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