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48 hours in... Washington DC

/ Nov 30, 2012 7:48AM / Print / ()

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48 hours in... Washington DC

Historic Washington DC is the beating heart of US politics. But even if you don't harbour West Wing aspirations of walking and talking down the corridors of power, it offers a treasure trove of cultural must-sees.

Sleep: Radiating vintage glamour, St Regis Washington DC hotel, across the street from the President's digs, has 182 grand rooms, a Claridge's-inspired lobby and Adour restaurant, by Michelin-adorned megachef Alain Ducasse. For a more contemporary feel, stay at The Dupont Circle Hotel.

Shop: The centre of African-American life in DC and the birthplace of jazz legend Duke Ellington, the once-forlorn U Street Corridor has undergone a recent makeover, and is now home to hip stores selling vintage wares, cafés, bars and galleries. Pick up original Levi's or cowboy boots at Dr. K's Vintage (1534 U Street) or local fashion, art and accessories at Ginger Root Design (1530 U Street).

Snack: On U Street Corridor, Fifties diner Ben's Chili Bowl still boasts the original decor and sells its famous chili half-smokes (a hot dog made with a half-pork, half-beef smoked sausage), slaw and thick shakes. Barack Obama has even dropped in.

See: You could spend weeks exploring Washington's museums, galleries and monuments, but due to upgraded security some aren't accessible to the public or require you to reserve your slot in advance. Book early for the guided tour of the stunning Capitol building.

Stroll: Vast parkland stretch the National Mall hosts the Lincoln Memorial at one end and the Capitol at the other. Within it you'll find the African American Civil War Memorial, the house where Lincoln died, the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and 10 of the Smithsonian's free-entry museums. Don't miss the gloriously curvy National Museum of the American Indian.

Spa: If you're tired of pan pipes and trickling water when you go for a massage, check out Bliss spa, which replaces harps with rhythm and blues and herbal teas with a brownie buffet. Perfect for a pedicure or a Triple Oxygen Facial.

Savour: Fancy a tony night out? Respected chef Tony Conte serves up nouveau American cuisine – a fusion of regional flavours – at the Oval Room, a stroll from the St Regis. Look out for political big shots lobbying for reform (or at least a donation from a special interest group) over Hawaiian sweet shrimp with roasted garlic butter, herbs and lime.

Sip: Off The Record is Washington's best place to be seen and not heard. Just steps from the White House, it's another popular spot with politicos, journalists and lobbyists, and its crimson walls are adorned with political caricatures. Order hand-squeezed margaritas and glasses of pinot at the bar; those attempting to make history are more likely to be sipping a beer or Laphroaig in the booths. If oysters, cheese plates and a swish selection of Scotches float your boat, wrap up the night at the Dupont Circle Hotel's hip Bar Dupont.

To book any of Mr & Mrs Smith's stylish boutique hotels visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.

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