When it comes to holidays everyone gets Paris, Rome and tropical lslands, but tell people that you are off to Washington DC. and they are mystified, always asking, “What are you going to do exactly?” We are independent travelers and I had no pre-conceptions - I just knew that I would love to see the White House and be fascinated by experiencing the political centre of the most powerful country on earth for myself. And what a great thing to show your kids!
For our big summer school break (in Australia we do everything upside down, so for us that is in Jan/Feb) we chose to go to the US. The kids love America because they grow up with the sports and pop culture and the Northern Hemisphere winter would be a plus for skiing in Denver (with a sunny spell in Mexico as a chaser).
With this many power brokers in town there is no shortage of excellent 5-star hotels here. The RITZ-CARLTON, MANDARIN ORIENTAL and THE FOUR SEASONS always delivers on service - but the latter’s ‘fake brick’ look didn’t grab me and I wasn’t convinced that Georgetown was for us. This original, colonial neighbourhood, founded way back at the dawn of independence in the 1750s, is wonderfully picturesque but too tucked away and residential for my two teen boys and young daughter. With children you always have to factor in a buzzy location.
I knew I had found our hotel when I came across the old-school décor of THE HAY ADAMS, which has an historic, real elegance that is synonymous with this city. And the best part? Guests become the newest neighbours of the one person who counts in this town, the President of the United States. What a buzz to be right next door to the most powerful office building on earth, the White House! I didn’t need to look further…
We left the gaudy glitz of Vegas and entered a completely different world on the East Coast flying US Airways.
I am not a big fan of domestic air travel in the US. For such a service-oriented country the service is shockingly slow and indifferent; customers are treated like cattle. People these days are oriented towards value fares, not the romance of travel. Sheira and I missed the friendly, happier staff and glamorous women on the Australian and European airlines! When you fly US carriers they seem so cranky and embittered - there are so many discount carriers flying, that service is just no longer a priority.
We also found the security procedures particularly arduous on this trip. It is so sad that, in this sense, the terrorists have won the war and now keep us all hemmed in by fear - but safety does come first so travelers are now resigned to the very tedious ritual of airline travel, especially in the States.