Donovan House, Washington, D.C.

In Hotels, North America by Kelly Magyarics

Situated next to Thomas Circle within walking distance of the many buzz-worthy restaurants and bars in Washington, D.C.’s vibrant 14th Street Corridor, the modern, Kimpton-run Donovan House boasts 193 sleek and stylish rooms and 17 suites, an inviting living room-style lobby, and a trendy Asian fusion hotspot with well-crafted libations. But the property’s biggest draw is not actually found inside its walls.

Up above is where it’s at. A see-and-be-seen spot, Donovan House’s rooftop boasts a seasonal, 420-square pool decked out with lounge chairs, snooze-worthy curtain-adorned cabanas, and a killer view of the city. Come happy hour, staff swaps out the patio furniture for cushy sofas and bar tables and the deck is illuminated, transforming the roof into DNV Lounge (an acronym for Damn Nice View.) Watch the sunset while noshing on pork belly bao buns with pickled daikon and wild mushroom tacos with five spice mole, washed down with creative cocktails like the Saigon Gin and Tonic on draft—with Tanqueray Gin and house made sugarcane tonic water—and the Yellow River Old Fashioned, with Old Overholt Rye, Batavia-Arrack, lemongrass-pandan syrup and green tea bitters.

When the sun sets, retreat to the modern and minimalist rooms redesigned in 2014 by CBT architects. Aesthetic details include a muted palette of contemporary grey and deep purple with rust accents, iridescent iris faux leather wraparound headboards, streamlined black and white side tables, and a custom rust-hued faux crocodile bench. Bathrooms feature unique walk-in cocoon spiral showers (some also have a rounded, stark white freestanding bathtub), and guests can lounge post-bath or shower in Kimpton’s signature animal print robes.

Fitness buffs will appreciate the 24-hour fitness center and complementary bikes available for guest use. But since rooms are outfitted with Gaiam yoga mats and access to a 24-hour yoga and Pilates channel, exercise seekers need not even leave the room to work out—or relax, for that matter, as in-room spa services feature organic and environmentally-friendly body and skin care products from Kerstin Florian.

The Donovan House’s cozy and comfortable lobby feels more like a living room, with glowing alabaster, limestone and dark teak, and a palette of olive, burgundy and beige. Long banquette seating with sumptuous pillows is joined by modern egg hanging chairs and a square leather ottomans, perfect to relax in with a cup of complementary coffee in the morning, or a glass of wine daily from 5:00 to 6:00 PM.

Adjacent to the lobby is Zentan, a modern Asian fusion restaurant specializing in Japanese and southwest Asian dishes that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its black and brown tones are offset by hundreds of recessed lights and pillar candles set on rectangular and round chandeliers hanging over tables, rendering a strikingly cool vibe. Peruse the menu of small plates and sushi rolls while sipping the signature cocktail, which mixes Hakushu 12 Year Japanese Whiskey, Choya Umeshu Plum Wine and house made lemon bitters, garnished with a brandied cherry; or choose another eclectic elixir like the Martini-esque Livin’ Is Easy, which stirs green tea-infused Aviation Gin, Aperol and Dolin Blanc Vermouth.

On the dinner menu, hamachi sashimi gets fragrant and zesty notes from orange segments, lemongrass oil and tosazu sauce, while herb butter and panko-crusted oysters pick up an enticing hint of smoke from a minute or two on the robata. Maki are (mostly) named for James Bond films—Shagalicious is one of the best of the bunch, a surf and turf combination of crab salad, cucumber, miazaki beef, tempura ebi and a crispy leek. Miso smoked and grilled black cod with kimchee daikon and karashi mustard is great for sharing—or not. And guests can even cook their own steak tableside over a Japanese river rock. Be sure to save room for the umami-rich miso semifreddo, with thirty second sponge cake, hibiscus sorbet and a Meyer lemon and coconut jam.

At once simple, sophisticated and striking, with an enviable location, on trend dining and modern design elements that strike a deft balance between form and function, the Donovan House is a perfect respite in the heart of the District.