The Hay-Adams

Review of The Hay-Adams review by Varun Sharma

Named after two distinguished Washington residents, John Hay and Henry Adams, who once lived on the site, this historic hotel first opened in 1928 as an apartment hotel and features an impressive Italian Renaissance façade with architectural embellishments such as Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders.

Today this heritage property boasts the best views of the White House in the city, has 124 elegant rooms and 21 suites, two restaurants, a private dining room seating up to 20 guests, a stunning rooftop events space, a Fitness & Exercise Facility, valet parking and even a Tesla Destination Charger. The property also runs an Author Series literary discussion event programme. 

Washington has many fabulous hotels with all the major luxury brands represented. The Hay-Adams is independent and attention to detail is its specialty.

One of the slogans for the Hay-Adams is "Where nothing is overlooked but the White House."

The Hay-Adams is featured on the list of The Best Luxury Hotels In Washington D.C.

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The Hay-Adams enjoys an unbeatable location in downtown Washington DC, steps from the White House which is directly across Lafayette Square. The National Mall is about four blocks from the hotel, just beyond the White House with the Capitol building approximately one mile away. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is right next store alongside several other business headquarters and government buildings. St John’s Church, known as the “Church of the Presidents”, is also in the close vicinity.

Explore either on foot or by bicycle – available for hire from the hotel - using the special bike lane located directly outside the property. It takes guests around the museums and monuments of central Washington. The nearest metro station, Farragut North, is about a five-minute walk away. A 20-minute walk will see you at the Washington Memorial and the superb Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The Hay-Adams is about 9.7 kilometres (six miles) or 15 minutes from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and about 40 kilometres (25 miles) or 45 minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport. From Baltimore Washington International Airport, the hotel is around 50 kilometres (31 miles) or an hours’ drive away.



The décor is as discreet as the hotel. No two rooms are the same in this historic building and because of this, it has more of a feel of a comfortable, elegant residence but one with every modern tech-savvy convenience.

A neutral palette of sage or pale espresso is given added dimension with a common thread – the use of colour, fabrics and the details – so there are custom toile canopied beds and curtains, pale striped wallpaper, sets of black and white framed images, ornate plasterwork ceilings, classic furniture and sofas with some rooms enjoying fireplaces, French doors and Juliet balconies.

Bathrooms have the vintage touch with brass railed sinks and Etro toiletries and custom Italian bed linens and bath towels. There are also sizeable HD flat screen televisions with Google Chromecast, Bose SoundLink mini Bluetooth speakers, mobile charging stations, digital in-room temperature controls and in room safes large enough for laptops. iPads, DVD players, films and assorted children’s board games are available on request.

Rooms are priced according to the size and view - so the entry levels rooms are cosy and snug with views out over an interior courtyard with the option of more space with an Executive Studio. Other lower floor rooms look out over St John’s Church, Lafayette Park and the upper floor premium view – The White House.

Each of the 21 luxury suites retain their original history with decorative ceilings and ornamental fireplaces with the option of extending space with connecting bedrooms. The starting point are the Lafayette Park View Junior Suites and the White House View Junior Suites, the latter sitting on the top floor of the property. The St John’s Church View Suites include a master bedroom, separate living room and a spacious bathroom with double vanities and a separate shower and soaking tub whilst the Lafayette Park View Suites also include a large dining table for meetings and meals.

The Presidential Suite, as you can imagine, is spacious, airy and enjoys uninterrupted views out over the White House, Lafayette Park and St John’s Church. It can be reserved with one or two bedrooms and includes a separate living room and two bathrooms. Similarly, The Federal Suite can be reserved with one or two bedrooms and includes a separate living room and two full bathrooms. French doors in the master bedroom open onto a private balcony overlooking the White House.

There are nine adapted rooms for those with disabilities.

Service & Facilities


The Fitness Centre is situated on the second floor and includes a range of fitness equipment including two Matrix treadmills, a Matrix elliptical, a Matrix recumbent, Hampton Durabell set with vert rack, Life Strength Signature Multi Bench, Life Strength Dual-Adjusted Pully Trainer, Spri Pro and Gym Ball and a changing area with showers.

Our advice is to take your jogging trousers and shoes and trot the streets around the hotel. Not only is it a great workout but you never know who you will meet … an ex-President maybe!  

The Hay-Adams Authors Programme recreates a grand literary tradition established by John Hay and Henry Adams in the late 1800s. At the time, their homes were the centre of Washington’s intellectual and social gatherings, featuring literary giants such as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton and Henry James. In 2005, Kay Enokido, President of The Hay-Adams launched The Hay-Adams Author Series to renew the spirit of literary discourse that has once occurred on the very ground where the hotel now stands. Recent authors have included Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Simon Schama, Isabel Allende and John Grisham.

Families are very welcome at The Hay-Adams and there is a selection of child-friendly amenities and services available on request including children’s menus, backpacks, baseball hats, puzzles and cuddly toys, board games, scavenger hunt maps, children’s rain boots and umbrellas and junior bath robes. Chef will also whip up some personalised treats too for junior VIPs.

The hotel owns a fleet of Shinola bicycles - which are offered to guests on a complimentary first-come, first-served basis. A Shinola - the Rolls-Royce of American bicycles - is an ideal method of transport to get around some of Washington's museums and monuments. The Concierge provides maps, bicycle locks and helmets. 

Dogs of up to 11 kilograms (25 pounds) are welcome at the hotel - with pet friendly accommodation available and no doubt treats, if reserved in advance.  



You could say, if you can’t stay at the official White House, then this is the nearest you can get to it. After all, it is where Barack Obama and family stayed for a fortnight prior to his inauguration (as the official White House guest accommodation – Blair House – was occupied).

Steeped in history, decorated with timeless elegance, opulent without the attitude that sometimes comes with it, The Hay-Adams just does things in the right way. Even choosing interior designer Thomas Pheasant was an inspired choice as his deft touch with the design modernised the look, making it feel more residential than hotel, whilst retaining the integrity of the property.

The rooftop Top of the Hay was another inspired move – a set of events spaces that looks out over the city with unrivalled views. Many a monied wedding has taken place there and if you look closely, it has even starred in Homeland and other television epics.

People have always been drawn to The Hay-Adams as it excels in its service standards and attention to detail. Prominent early guests included aviators Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. The property was always leading in innovation – it had the first air-conditioned dining room in the 1930s for instance.

This hotel is style personified - it’s got class …. and it has it, by the truckload.

Restaurants & Bars


Directly overlooking Lafayette Square and The White House, The Lafayette is the hotel’s signature restaurant serving a menu of upscale American cuisine with a contemporary twist. Open for all-day dining, this airy and elegant restaurant features large picture windows overlooking Lafayette Park and The White House.

It is tempting to play “spot the Washington insider” at the property’s sophisticated bar - Off the Record - with its motto, “place to be seen and not heard”. Deep crimson booths, armchair seating and wallpaper lends an intimate atmosphere with caricatures of the city’s political elite, both past and present, framed on the walls. Downloads of the latest illustrations can be printed off the hotel’s website. When sipping that cocktail, check out the cheeky coasters featuring politicians & judges including Donald Trump, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Paul Ryan – a coveted collector’s item and available for purchase as a set.

A light menu is also served here alongside those “power martinis” for hotel guests and politicos whispering secrets and making quid pro quo promises in the shadows.


The Hay-Adams, as one of Washington’s leading hotels, sees itself as a leader in environmental stewardship for the hospitality community. As a designated historical building, The Hay-Adams believes in protecting their environment through the conservation of materials and energy and is committed to meaningful and dynamic green initiatives. Their environmental policies are continuously reviewed to evaluate new means of decreasing their carbon footprint and increasing their conservation efforts. It is their goal to reduce their carbon footprint by a minimum of five per cent each year.

As part of their commitment to conservation, the hotel has secured at least 25 per cent of their electric power needs through renewable resources and has eliminated the use of Styrofoam, paper and plastic containers for personal use. The property purchases food from organic vendors and works with suppliers who have a mutual commitment to environmentally-sound business practices. The hotel recycles at least 80 per cent of white paper used for administrative and sales functions and has implemented a “no print” directive by providing computer access in all areas and utilising electronic communications. Housekeeping uses eco-friendly cleaning products and when redecorating, does not use any oil-based paints. The team has also implemented a single stream recycling programme for guest room newspapers, print documents, plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans.

The Hay-Adams participates in a linen recycling programme through their partnership with “Keys for the Homeless”, a charitable organisation that services the local community.

What We Love

  • Sometimes I like sitting by a beach, sometimes in a jungle but enjoying a single malt whisky while looking at The … THE … White House is a very special experience indeed. Off The Record is one of those bars that remains etched on your memory for life. That view …
  • The rooms & suites. They all differ in size, shape and look – but are all perfect. The attention to detail is incredible. While the hotel mainly caters for politicians and heads of state – the likes of you and me are treated as equals. That is one of the keys behind the success of The Hay-Adams.
  • The White House aside, the hotel is within walking distance of all the major tourist attractions including my favourite – The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – part of the Smithsonian Institution – which is made up of 19 separate museums and the National Zoo.

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • The Zeitgeist - At The Hay-Adams, there's a pervasive sense of the hotel's history, and at the same time, an unmistakable awareness of place. The proximity to the White House and other iconic institutions establishes the hotel as being in the heart of the spot where decisions are made and ideas are expressed, those that change the course of history. It's electrifying.
  • The Warmth - Every experience at The Hay-Adams is infused with the warmth of our team. Whether you're staying in one of our luxurious rooms or savouring standout culinary and cocktail experiences in our restaurant and bar, chatting with our concierge team about the best places to explore on one of our custom Shinola bikes, or simply being greeted by one of our long-time team members, the level of care at the hotel is extraordinary. We want our guests to enjoy every moment. 
  • The View - Our indoor/outdoor event space, known as Top of the Hay, overlooks The White House and Lafayette Park. Stunning natural light streams in across the terrace during the day, and by night, guests can gaze upon the lights of Washington, DC. With a private dining room, a dedicated kitchen, and endlessly customisable setups- this space is the pride and joy of our hotel.

    Nicolas Béliard
    Managing Director
    The Hay-Adams, Washington D.C. helps you find the best offers on any hotel by comparing the prices of all leading hotel suppliers in a single search.

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