Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

The Willard Intercontinental, DC’s Iconic Hotel, Decks its Halls for the Holidays

November 16, 2018
Willard Hotel, Washington DC

The Nation’s Capital is pure magic during the holiday season and the iconic Willard Intercontinental, where Abraham Lincoln stayed before his inauguration, is offering a Wintertime Holiday Package © Karen Rubin/

Washington, D.C. – The elegant and historical Willard InterContinental will transform into a holiday-inspired wonderland, a beloved tradition that both locals and visitors have come to anticipate each year.  Beginning on November 24, an unforgettable display of yuletide trimmings, musical fanfare and epicurean delights will permeate the property through January 1, 2019. From the historical happenings at the Round Robin Bar to the highly-sought after holiday afternoon tea in Peacock Alley, guests will have their pick of endless festive offerings.

At the center of each Willard Christmas stands the treasured tree, boasting decades of sentiment on each carefully curated branch. The only hotel in D.C. to feature the White House Ornament Collection, an initiative founded by the White House Historical Association in 1981, each ornament honors a different U.S. President or special White House event. This year will honor Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, and will reflect three significant changes made by Truman during his administration – one to the Presidential Seal and two to the White House itself.  Another iconic facet of the hotel’s décor is their picturesque gingerbread display in the lobby that pays tribute to an iconic landmark in and around D.C.  This year’s display will pay homage to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and its storied past with a magnificent replica that will include all terminals, lighted runways, a control tower and even parts of the Washington Metro.

As always, Holiday Pies to Go will be available through the Willard’s French-inspired brasserie, Café du Parc.  From November 1 through December 24, holiday foodies can rely on pastry chefs at the property to provide an assortment of homemade, seasonal pies using the freshest of ingredients including the famed Candied Pecan Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie, Classic Chocolate Crème Pie, Citrus-Cranberry Crumble Apple Pie, Cinnamon-Oatmeal Crumble Blueberry Pie and Limencello Merengue Pie created with Executive Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez’s famous lemon curd, a popular favorite at the hotel’s afternoon tea.  Ranging from $30 to $38, forty-eight-hour notice is required for all pie orders, which can be placed by calling 202-942-7000.

Those visiting the hotel or the D.C. area at Thanksgiving and Christmas can indulge in the Thanksgiving Day Brunch and Christmas Day Brunch set against the magnificence of the Willard and Crystal Ballrooms. This scrumptious presentation offers epicurean delights involving both traditional and original Thanksgiving dishes created by Executive Chef Luca De Marchis.  This year’s highlights include a Mash Potato Martini Bar, a Carpaccio Station on a Himalayan Salt Block, a Risotto Station, and a Wild Game Meat Station plus all the holiday fixings. Kids can also rest assure that all the tot-friendly staples will be on hand from chicken fingers and mini cheese burgers to mac and cheese and curly fries. Seatings are offered between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both November 24 and December 25. The cost is $125 per adult and $55 for children under 12 (complimentary for 4 and under).  Reservations are required and can be booked by calling 202-628-9100.

Café du Parc will offer its customary breakfast, lunch and brunch a la carte options during the holidays in addition to a four-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu for $75 per person on Thanksgiving. Likewise, the café will create a three-course prix-fixe Christmas Eve menu for $85 per person and a New Year’s Eve prix-fixe dinner menu at $155 per person for a six-course meal. Reservations are required and can be secured by calling 202-942-7000.

The highly anticipated and quick-to-sell out Holiday Afternoon Tea presented in the grandeur of The Willard’s Peacock Alley will be held daily throughout December from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (excluding December 24, 25 and 31) priced at $65 per person and $75 with champagne. Surrounded by festive décor, visitors can indulge in a medley of distinctive teas, delectable sandwiches including Mini Pimento “BLT” Cheddar Biscuits and Citrus Crab Salad Vol-Au-Vent and seasonally inspired pastries such as Eggnog Meringue Tarts and Peppermint Profiteroles.

Now in its 17th year, The Willard’s nightly caroling program has evolved into one of the most comprehensive of its kind in Washington, with a wide array of highly accomplished choral and vocal ensembles from around the D.C. metropolitan area.  Between December 1 and December 23, city dwellers and visitors alike can enjoy the sounds of the season with complimentary, nightly chorale performances from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m in the hotel lobby. The Washington Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus, Arlington Children’s Choir, Potomac Harmony Chorus and Carmina & Illuminare are only a few of the many musical troupes making an appearance this year.

For those seeking a festive night out, The Willard will present a special Holiday Edition of History Happy Hour on December 14 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. This two-hour event combines mixology and history for an unforgettable curated experience. Jim Hewes, the esteemed mixologist and legendary bartender at The Willard’s iconic Round Robin Bar will be joined by former renowned White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier.  Bakers and history buffs alike will appreciate an insider’s perspective of White House holiday traditions as Chef Mesnier leads an intimate conversation regarding his 26-year tenure in the White House pastry kitchen. Guests will observe firsthand his famed culinary skills while hearing fresh insight into the six presidencies during which he worked, all while sipping on holiday-inspired dessert cocktails.

The Nation’s Capital is pure magic during the holiday season and the Willard is offering a Wintertime Holiday Package for all those interested in an overnight stay with upgraded accommodations. Booking now for November 16 through February 11, 2019 rates begin at $299 and include a $50 food and beverage credit and a 2018 commemorative White House Christmas Ornament (minimum two-night booking, 72 hours advance notice required, all based on availability).

For more information, visit  or call 202-628-9100.


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White House Lifts Camera Ban on Public Tours, Encourages Posting Pix

July 3, 2015
Visitors to The White House, Washington DC are now encouraged to post their photos © 2015 Karen Rubin/

Visitors to The White House, Washington DC are now encouraged to post their photos © 2015 Karen Rubin/

After 40 years, the White House is lifting its longstanding camera and photo ban on public tours.  Guests are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and keep those memories for a lifetime. Visitors are also encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag #WhiteHouseTour.

To announce the change in policy, the First Lady posted THIS video on her Instagram account.

Permitted Items: Phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches are allowed inside the White House.  Photography is permitted but may not interfere with the enjoyment of other guests on the tour.  

Prohibited Items: Video cameras, including any action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, and camera sticks are not permitted on White House Tours.  Flash photography and livestreaming are not permitted while on the tour.

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New: Moral Compass: Great Places to Go Where the Going Does Good

Take a Journey through Colombia at 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC

June 24, 2011

“Journey” to Colombia at this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival, located in Washington D.C. July 1-4 and July 7-11, from 11 am.-5:30 p.m. Beginning with the opening ceremony at 11 am on Thursday, June 30. the festival gives visitors the chance to indulge in the traditions, diversity and culture of Colombia.

This is the festival’s 45th year celebrating culture from all around the world, with this year focusing on Colombia, Peace Corps and Rhythm & Blues.

This year’s program will allow visitors to see, taste and feel the true colors and passion of Colombia. Visitors will be able to move beyond perceptions and discover the offering and experience Colombia has to offer as a booming travel destination.

“For many decades, Colombia was plagued by violence and insecurity fueled by illegal armed groups; but today, we have turned a corner and emerged from the shadows of our past to become a stronger democracy, an economic force in the region and a leader in international affairs,” said Colombian Ambassador to the United States Gabriel Silva.

“As a new day has dawned in Colombia, we now have an opportunity to shed light on the many positive steps our nation continues to make. With this new day comes the opportunity to open people’s eyes not only to the new Colombia of today, but also to the roots and richness of our cultural heritage. The Folklife Festival is by far the largest stage in the United States to showcase our culture, and we invite all to come to the National Mall to behold firsthand the profound beauty of our country, the warmth of our people, the richness of our traditions and the foundation of our cultural heritage.”

The Nature of Colombian Culture program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will showcase the real Colombia through lifestyles and traditions from all over Colombia. It will highlight the bio-cultural diversity of the country, along with how the environment is linked to their culture.

“Visitors will be able to see the biodiversity of Colombia in the Folklife Festival; however, the richness of the country is fully experienced when visiting the country, traveling its forests, mountains, savannas, beaches and enjoying the coffee triangle, parties, cities, and numerous possibilities of varied tourism available throughout the country,” said Maria Claudia Lacouture, President of Proexport.

Festival goers will have the opportunity to take a journey to South America and meet those individuals representing Colombia from nine different regions of the country.

To view the day by day schedule of the Colombia program at the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival,visit:


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Historic Willard Hotel in Washington DC offers Year of Civil War Programming

May 25, 2011

The lobby of the Willard Hotel, where President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term “Lobbyist." The Historic Hotels of America member hotel was also where Abraham Lincoln stayed before his inauguration and figured prominently during the Civil War. Close to the White House and the Smithsonian Institution museums, the Willard is hosting a year-long Civil War Sesquicentennial series of lectures and programs © 2011 Karen Rubin/

As America marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 2011, the Willard InterContinental, a member of Historic Hotels of America, is highlighting its significant history of the period with Willard Hotel and the Civil War, featuring special lectures and events, as well as a special lodging package.

 This yearlong event in conjunction with Destination DC’s regional Civil War to Civil Rights commemoration highlights various aspects of the Willard’s history during this period through exhibitions, lectures, tours, concerts, discussion panels and related events. The Willard’s programming includes partnerships with such cultural and historic entities as Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance, The International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theater, the Civil War Preservation Trust and The Washington National Opera.  Events will include presentations by actors Stephen Lange (Avatar) and Sam Waterston (Law & Order.) Further underscoring the anniversary, the Willard is offering a history-related package.

Among the upcoming events this summer:

Civil War Spies: A Three-Part Exploration of Union and Confederate Intelligence Operations, June-July, offered In collaboration with Ford’s Theatre, National Historic Site, National Park Service; The Willard InterContinental Hotel and the International Spy Museum.

The North and the South both had their share of intelligence successes (and failures), but neither the Blue nor the Gray were strangers to intrigue and espionage.  Society ladies carried secret messages, runaway slaves re-crossed the Mason-Dixon Line as undercover agents, and couriers worked covert operations in the life or death climate of wartime.  In this series, a distinguished group of historians and espionage experts will introduce you to some of the most amazing spies and spy cases of the War Between the States.

Spy Rings, Covert Action, and Deception: Spies and their Tactics (Tuesday, June 21 at the International Spy Museum): Civil War intelligence operations ranged from the dazzling to the preposterous. How close did Southern covert action come to rendering New York City a Confederate holding?  How did music lend deception to the battlefield?  Join International Spy Museum historian Mark Stout,  James A Davis, Prof. of Musicology at State University of New York, College at Fredonia, (invited), and other experts impart the value of intelligence and deceptive measures during the Civil War.  Explore the key role that intelligence played in the North’s victory at Gettysburg, Pinkerton’s intelligence network and counterintelligence operations for the Union, and the “spy” gadgets available to the Civil War era James Bond.

The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies (Tuesday, July 19 at Ford’s Theatre): Why did a handsome, successful actor murder President Lincoln? Examine the Lincoln assassination anew—at the scene of the crime—during this eye-opening adventure.  On one fact alone do scholars agree: President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865.  All else is suspect!  This program is presented in the very theatre where the tragedy occurred.  Learn the true facts of the event and also the key conspiracy schools of thought.  Was Booth acting as a lone gunman?  A player in an internal Union scheme?  A tool of the Confederacy?  A cog in an insidious global plot?  The evening will include a surprise appearance by “Booth.”

Civil War Sisterhood of Spies (Tuesday, July 26 at The Willard InterContinental) Discover the secret work of key Civil War operatives of the fair sex.  Meet three of the most successful female Civil War spies: Wild Rose Greenhow, a charming high society widow who sweet-talked top-flight Union officials and lowly Union clerks alike, encoded their intelligence, and smuggled messages south—with the help of her own spy ring!  Antonia Ford, a confederate spy who married one of the Willard Hotel’s 19th century proprietors and Virginia-based Civil War Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew.  Ann Blackman (invited) author of Wild Rose will cover Greenhow, Amanda Ohlke, director of adult education at the International Spy Museum will trace Van Lew’s espionage career, and historical impersonator Emily Lapisardi (invited)  will portray Confederate spy Antonia Ford.

The programs are at 7 p.m.; series tickets are $60; Individual Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 202.654.0932 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202.654.0932      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Another program this summer, 1861: The Civil War’s First Year in 3D, is a free exhibit presented by the Civil War Preservation Trust, on view June 24 to July 15 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Willard InterContinental. In 1861, America was torn apart and thrust into civil war.  States seceded from the Union, armies were raised, battles were fought, leaders emerged and the nation began an inextricable series of changes. This upheaval was not only captured by the lenses of a growing army of photographers, but was recorded using 3D, stereoscopic cameras.  This exhibition will present more than three dozen Civil War-era photographs in the manner in which they were meant to be seen – in 3D.  From secession to civil war, from Abraham Lincoln to Jefferson Davis, and from Fort Sumter to Bull Run, see the Civil War in depth and how the art of photojournalism was born!  Developed in association with the Center for Civil War Photography and HISTORY (formerly called the History Channel), the exhibition will include a multimedia documentary-style program focusing upon the Civil War’s first, but bloodless battle, Fort Sumter.

The Willard was a center for political and social life in Washington DC throughout the Civil War.  Located close to the White House, the six-story building upon which the New Willard Hotel was later built in 1901, was at the crossroads of society and politics. According to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willard’s was “much more justly called the center of Washington and the Union than the Capitol, the White House or the State Department.”

In addition to the calendar of special events marking the occasion, the hotel will offer a Willard Hotel and the Civil War package available throughout the year. The Willard is also issuing a new edition of its complimentary Willard history brochure for guests.  The brochure, designed by Jeanne Krohn of Krohn Design, and written by Cindy Gueli, PhD, who together created the Willard’s comprehensive history gallery, will be a compilation of historic anecdotes and evocative imagery.   “We hope the new Willard history brochure will provide guests with an enhanced sense of place,” said Jim Veil, General Manager of the Willard InterContinental and Regional Director of Operations for Baltimore and Washington, D.C., “the Willard InterContinental is so much more than an architectural gem, it is a true microcosm of American history centered as a vital establishment through some of our nation’s most dramatic chapters,” Veil continued.   A new series of Willard and the Civil War “history bytes” compiled by Professor Gueli will be included in the hotel’s guest and media communications throughout the year.

The Willard InterContinental is located in the heart of the nation’s capital on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, the Smithsonian museums and the downtown business and theatre districts.   The Willard epitomizes world-class hospitality as the hotel of choice for heads of state and leaders of the world’s business, cultural, social and political elite.  The hotel’s 335 well appointed guestrooms include 41 elegant suites.  Dining options include Café du Parc, the popular French bistro with seasonal outdoor seating, the Occidental Grill & Seafood, traditional Afternoon Tea in Peacock Alley and the classic Round Robin Bar.  The luxurious Red Door Spa offers a wide array of pampering treatments.

An American institution, the Willard has hosted nearly every U.S. president since 1853. Abraham Lincoln stayed at the Willard before his inauguration in 1861.   It was at the Willard that Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, where President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term “Lobbyist,” and where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King finished his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Willard is also noted for its 100% wind power, recycling and charitable initiatives including Anacostia River clean-up, the hotel’s “Adoption” of a Pershing Park, and support of a school prom for disabled youth.   The classic Willard InterContinental combines heritage and luxury with contemporary comfort and the latest technology.

 The Willard Hotel and the Civil War package for two includes a weekend night in a Deluxe King Room, Breakfast in Café du Parc, Valet Parking and Tickets to the Lincoln Cottage.  Price starts at $369 per room per night and is offered Thursdays to Sundays through May 31, 2011. Package must be booked at least seven days prior to arrival. Based on availability.   Bookings can made by calling 202-628-9100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-628-9100      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or by visiting

Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, 202-628-9100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-628-9100      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 800-827-1747 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-827-1747      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or Web site:  Twitter: ; Facebook:

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