With six global properties at present and two more on the horizon, Atlanta-based Capella Hotels and Resorts
takes its name from a super-bright double star in a constellation many light years from Earth. It is an apt namesake, for my recent introduction to the brand at its sole U.S. flag, located alongside the landmark Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Georgetown, was ultra-stellar from start to finish.
Rising above and beyond expected service and experience baselines in the rarefied world of five-star hotels takes rare skill, yet the Capella made it look easy. How? For starters, the man behind the Capella Hotel Group is Horst Schulze, co-founder and longtime leader of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Add his background at luxury marques such as the Plaza Athénée in Paris and Savoy in London, and his resultant unique understanding of the higher end has produced a new quintessence of luxury.
At Capella, that means an experience that is precise, purposeful but never pretentious—and, above all, pleasurable.
One week before my arrival, I received an e-mail from a member of the hotel’s Personal Assistant team, welcoming me and offering advance assistance with dinner reservations, transportation, customized activities and any other wants, needs or desires. If discovering new hotels is akin to first dates, this service, offered 24/7, was a winning first impression.
The Capella did not disappoint in person. Opened in March 2013, the five-story boutique is housed in a handsome $45 million update of the former American Trial Lawyers Association building. Check-in was a smartly curated experience that swept me from curbside to registration—a seated affair in a salon-like setting—and then up to my Deluxe room overlooking the C&O Canal.
Highlights of this spacious sanctuary include the plush King bed with adjacent touch-button control panel for the room’s technologies, along with the comfortable sitting area and work desk. Stocked with Acqua Di Parma products, the bathroom features a deep white limestone Victoria & Albert soaking tub and glass-enclosed rainfall shower. Wi-Fi is complimentary, along with coffee and refrigerated water and soda.
Capella offers 37 rooms in three styles, plus 12 suites, also in three styles, including the two Presidential Suites, each featuring a giant circular tub cut from a single block of black marble.
The immediate neighborhood offers enticements including walking the canal towpath, strolling the Potomac riverfront, shopping along M Street, or visiting historic Dumbarton Oaks. All are ready preludes for enjoying the Capella’s exceptional F&B program, helmed by two beloved veterans of the D.C. scene.
With a background that includes serving as executive sous chef at the White House during the Reagan and Bush years, Frank Ruta wowed D.C. diners for 14 years at his much-missed Palena Café. Now the James Beard–winner delivers solidly satisfying American steak and seafood classics at the hotel’s canal-side Grill Room, which includes private dining space for 12 guests.
As cherubic as his name, head bartender Angel Cervantes enjoys a loyal following among Washingtonians who drink, with credentials including introducing mescal to the D.C. menu in the 90’s and seven years at star chef Michel Richard’s late, great Citronelle.
Repair to the hotel’s cosmopolitan Rye Bar for his Manhattan, take one of Angel’s regularly scheduled cocktail classes, or arrange for a custom experience in the hotel’s artful Living Room, reserved for hotel guests and featuring a two-story solid onyx fireplace. Talk about a heavenly experience: Angel’s narrated five-cocktail tour with appetizers for my group of six was an expertly fueled rocket ride.
Guests also have exclusive use of the spacious rooftop bar and lounge area, which features landmark views including the Kennedy Center and Washington Monument, and includes fitness center and an indoor-outdoor infinity pool. Guests also have cross-privileges at the nearby Washington Sports Club, and in-room spa treatments are available. For meetings, the high-tech lower-level Executive Boardroom seats 14 and offers a private entrance from the parking garage. The hotel is relaxed about checking in and checking, too—when I said Capella makes it look easy, they also simply make it easy.
This is an intimate, private escape with big hotel amenities, making it an ideal Georgetown headquarters for business, socializing or romance. Add its double star to its five-star rating and you have seventh heaven.
Superior Rooms start at $595 per night, up to the Presidential Suites, starting at $5,000 per night.
1050 31st Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel.: (202) 617-2400