If you love staying by the water no matter the weather but aren’t up right now for a big road trip, consider a getaway at The Wharf. There’s a lot to entice you right now including an exciting new Asian hotel restaurant, a tiki bar donned in decor best described as an ugly sweater party come to life and the chance to cozy up next to a firepit for DIY s’mores. The best part? While you can definitely stretch it into a full weekend, you can also fit in the following itinerary during a one-night stay–and there’s still time to do it before the end of the year.
Check into your room at InterContinental DC The Wharf (pictured above), centrally-located on The Wharf. Rooms have either one king or two queen beds, and there is also the option to book a suite. Accommodations have balconies overlooking the water, and other amenities include 50-inch televisions with Bluetooth, executive work desks, spa-inspired bathrooms, Nespresso coffee makers, hot water kettles and touch panel in-room technology. The fitness center, spa and bars remain closed, but in-room dining is still available as is the new dining concept Moon Rabbit. The brand’s IHG Way of Clean includes deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants and guests can expect other protocols to reduce contact and promote social distancing. Among the current promotions is The Winter Holiday Package which includes a complimentary one-tier upgrade upon check-in, subject to availability, as well as $20 food and beverage credit and valet parking.
Reserve a spot in advance to sip pre-dinner libations at Officina’s Amaro Experience, a new spirits and cocktail offering in the restaurant’s Amaro Library. When chef Nicholas Stefanelli and his team were getting ready to launch the restaurant two years ago, they amassed some incredible vintage amaros through auctions and private collectors–on the menu now are aged and rare offerings dating back to the 1920s as well as bottles from small boutique producers and large global brands. The Experience is a curated four-course cocktail and tasting guided by a bartender, during which you will learn how the liqueur is made and taste several expressions, both by themselves and in cocktails.
Return to the hotel for dinner at Moon Rabbit, a 50-seat modern Vietnamese restaurant with waterfront views. Named for a virtuous rabbit in a Buddhist Jataka tale, the restaurant serves globally-inspired dishes that tell the personal story of chef Kevin Tien. Start with a craft cocktail like The Scent of Green Oranges, with Cognac, Averna, bitters, orange and lemon or a glass of Etna Bianco, while sharing a few small plates like pineapple milk buns with hoisin butter, scallop crudo tom kha or grilled beets with curry and candied pumpkin seeds. Among the creative entrees is a fragrant lemongrass pork with coconut rice, and be sure to save room for creamy coconut mousse with cilantro-lime granita, peanut streusel and banana sorbet. (The restaurant just rolled out gift cards that are great for last-minute holiday gifts. They are also expanding from dinner service, rolling out brunch and meals to-go.)
Many of the usual holiday activities at The Wharf including the District Holiday Boat Parade and The Wharf Ice Rink are canceled this year because of the pandemic, but they have been replaced with alternate safe seasonal offerings. Tickets for the outdoor holiday movies are sold out, but on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 10, Camp Wharf is open, with a vintage airstream trailer selling the fixins for classic and peanut butter s’mores, which can be roasted at the adjacent fire pits. A portion of the proceeds goes to charities in Southwest Washington. You can also snap some photos in front of the 45-foot pine Christmas tree or the menorah, which will be lit through Dec. 18.
The next morning, take a short stroll to the Wharf location of Colada Shop, the local chain that’s part Cuban coffee shop, bakery and cocktail bar, depending on the time of day. If you crave something savory to start the day, order an egg and mojo pork breakfast sandwich on Cuban bread, eggs baked with chickpeas and chorizo, empanadas or croquetas. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the selection of flaky pastelitos. Either way, wash them down with a cortado or Cafe Cubano.
Before heading home, pop into Tiki TNT and Potomac Distilling, renowned bartender Todd Thrasher’s tiki bar and rum distillery. Now through Jan. 6, the bar has been transformed into a “Tacky-Ass Tiki X-Mas” with over-the-top holiday decor including an upside down Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling, light displays projected onto every wall, snow machines blasting throughout the space and holiday specials and movies. Sip Hot Pineapple Cider in a Santa mug while playing table games, or book a tour and tasting at the distillery led by Thrasher himself. Afterwards, browse his Rum Ron Rhum Shoppe pop-up to buy last-minute host or holiday gifts like the 11:11 Cocktail Case, with Thrasher’s White Rum a pineapple, spiced hibiscus and lime cocktail mix and a custom mug.
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