Given that people of opposing political persuasions tend to live, eat, shop, work and worship in self-selected bubbles, it was probably only a matter of time before someone decided that Republicans and Democrats needed their own hotels too. Enter the Eaton DC, in downtown Washington, the flagship hotel of the Eaton Workshop brand, and now the wokest place to wake up in the nation’s capital. Its founder, Katherine Lo, a scion of the Hong Kong family whose vast hotel holdings include the high-end Langham brand, envisioned creating not a mere hotel but “a community with a shared ethos of caring for today’s world.” Beyond its well-appointed guest rooms, the Eaton property encompasses a communal work space (billed as “the optimal cooperative setting for socially conscious leaders”), a wellness center, a radio station, a coffee house and a full-service restaurant — all of which, you can be assured, are monitored for the size of their environmental footprints. Data available upon request.
K Street is to lobbying what Wall Street is to finance and Rodeo Drive is to luxury shopping: an address synonymous with one of the more avaricious aspects of American capitalism. It’s not the most obvious location for a place like Eaton DC, though it is central and convenient. Many of the city’s attractions like the White House and the museums near the National Mall are within walking distance. The 14th Street corridor, with its bustling restaurant and bar scene, is also a short walk, as is the hotel whose name dare not be mentioned (the Trump International).
The regular rooms — Eaton calls them cabins or studies — are quite small at only 280 to 380 square feet. We upgraded to a pied-à-terre junior suite, which was amply sized at about 600 square feet and had a separate living area with an L-shaped couch. It had the feel of a stylish Lake Tahoe getaway, with wide-plank hardwood flooring and dark rum-colored wood furnishings, accented by an occasional splash of red and blue in the rugs and pillows. Some of the highly curated touches included a record player that actually played (and came with albums by Fleetwood Mac and The Byrds); a magazine rack with vintage copies of Rolling Stone; a minibar with craft beer and kombucha. On the nightstand there was a pink Himalayan salt lamp, which some believe has cleansing powers. In the nightstand drawer there was no Gideon Bible or Book of Mormon, though the “Inclusivity Menu” on the desk said that copies of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights were available at the front desk. (We called down, and within minutes two copies were delivered.)
Ours had three separate chambers: one for the sink, one for the shower and a separate area with a door for the toilet. Blue checkerboard tiling lined the walls and the shower. Bath products by Grown Alchemist included sweet orange, cedarwood and sage hand wash. But you can’t take them home with you. No small disposable bottles here — just the reusable large communal ones now becoming standard at many environmentally conscious hotels.
The Eaton can feel a bit like a mission statement that just happens to let you sleep there. But other aspects of the property more appropriately serve its community-focused purpose. The shared work space, where people can rent desks for a monthly fee like at WeWork or Cove, is handsomely furnished — like a graduate student study carrel brought to you by Room & Board. There is a small studio in the lobby for recording or broadcasting audio. The wellness center, which was in its soft opening when we visited in late November, offered yoga classes, a meditation room, sound baths and saunas that use infrared technology to heat your body instead of hot coals.
In case you were wondering whether there are any profit margins for a business that sounds like it would shun high-priced indulgences, look no further than the restaurant American Son, where our starter dish of three smallish-sized scallops was $24. Most of the items on the menu were vegetable based, like the gem-lettuce Caesar served lightly charred ($12) and a rich tofu gnocchi with sunchokes, black truffle and chive ($28). For carnivores there was a shareable rib-eye for $125 (yes, $125) and duck for $100. There are two bars on the property. One is a speakeasy called Allegory tucked away off the lobby behind two unmarked black doors with an extensive menu of craft cocktails. The other is a large rooftop club, Wild Days. Room service breakfast, ordered the night before from a cardboard door hanger, arrived almost exactly on time and with generous portions of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage and a potato and onion cake. Healthier options included an acai smoothie bowl with berries and shaved coconut.
The Bottom Line
The Eaton will feel too precious and political for many people. But if you need a break from the corporate, cookie-cutter sterility of Marriott and Hilton, this is your safe space.
Eaton DC, 1201 K Street NW Washington DC, 202-289-7600; https://www.eatonworkshop.com/hotel/dc
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By JEREMY W. PETERS