The Elegance of Paris in Our Nation’s Capital: The Fairfax at Embassy Row

Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial

It’s been over a week that the mountain closed here in Telluride and the town has already slowed down to its sleepy off-season mode. Many people have hit the road in search of warmer climates. Others (like me) are using this quiet time to catch up on work that had been shelved during the busy winter season. Fortunately there’s still fun to be had nearby since I just returned from a long weekend of skiing at Beaver Creek and Snowmass. My final spring ski fling will be in Aspen over Easter.

Still I’m feeling the itch to visit cities such as Paris or Washington D.C., two great capitals that are especially resplendent this time of year. I’ve often been to Washington in (late) spring since it’s an easier trip than crossing the Atlantic; and in Paris I’ve lived through nearly a dozen printemps. Flowers bloom bountifully in April in both cities, making spring the perfect season for strolling vast boulevards while crisscrossing in and out of world-renowned museums. This year, due to the disasters in Japan, there was more talk than ever about D.C.’s cherry blossoms, great puffs of beauty that surely provoked more emotion than usual. (I haven’t seen the cherry blossoms in D.C. but I did experience them in all their splendor nearly two decades ago in Kyoto, and I remember them as heartbreakingly beautiful then.)

Both Paris and D.C. humble you year-round by their manicured landscapes and grand and glorious architecture. This stateliness may be considered distinctly Washingtonian or typiquement parisien. Or sometimes a little of both. (As most of us know, it was a Frenchman, Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, appointed by President George Washington in 1791, who designed our capital city.) The history and tradition of Washington D.C. may be more recent than that of Paris but a visit to this glistening beacon along the Potomac still imbues you with the spirit of the past as well as the omnipotent force of the present.


Grand Entrance: Lobby of The Fairfax at Embassy Row

As many of my readers know, I have an affinity toward fine hotels, especially those steeped in history. I love properties that represent a bygone era with exceptional grace and elegance, particularly ones that are just as happening today as when they first opened. I’m talking about destination hotels, places that are worth the trip in and of itself. The Fairfax at Embassy Row ranks as one such establishment in D.C., one that a friend raved on to me about after her visit there last fall. Conveniently located in Dupont Circle within minutes of the capital’s most significant sites, she made The Fairfax her base but made sure to reserve plenty of downtime within its elegant premises throughout her stay.

The Fairfax has been attracting discriminating visitors and prominent dignitaries since its opening in 1927. Just think, people were already flocking to D.C. at that time to witness the heavenly spectacle of the cherry trees festooned with flowers.

Jockey Club

The Jockey Club: A D.C. Favorite

Washington by Night:  the Illuminated Facade of The Fairfax

Washington by Night: the Illuminated Facade of The Fairfax

The signature restaurant of The Fairfax, The Jockey Club Restaurant & Lounge, opened on the eve of President Kennedy’s inauguration, is also a Washington insider’s favorite. Inspired by New York’s legendary “21,” The Jockey Club attracts lots of local movers and shakers both for its fine cuisine and swanky ambiance. “The venue is like a grand theatre on which we get to produce a memorable play,” states Mark D. Timms, Executive Chef of The Jockey Club. “It’s full of history, charm and class and it reflects that back to our guests,” he continues. Classics such as Steak Tartare and Dover Sole are prepared table side with effortless skill and panache. Other more innovative offerings include a “BLT” tomato soup, made of bacon, heirloom tomatoes, braised lettuce and white cheddar croutons. I’d plan a meal at The Jockey Club just for that! Diners may also order other delectable items such as Chesapeake Bay oysters, braised short ribs and burgers off The Jockey Club Lounge menu.

Hmmmmm. All this talk of food has me back to thinking about Paris. You may just have to do a coin toss to help you decide which destination to book this spring. Check the airfares, too. As for me, I’m staying in Colorado throughout April but will certainly be looking toward D.C., Paris and other more cosmopolitan destinations once I come up for air. Hopefully time will expand to meet my needs.

The Fairfax at Embassy Row and The Jockey Club Restaurant & Lounge, 2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 202-293-2100, and

Donations to the American Red Cross in support of their disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific may still be made and are most welcome. I just made one myself, in fact (part of my catching up). It’s marvelous to think about the infinite number of big and little things that unite countries, that bring people together all over the world. I find the cherry blossoms to be a wonderful connecting point between Japan and the United States and will continue to conjure up visions of these prolific blooms as I send warm, healing thoughts to the Japanese during their time of need.

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