Washington: 5 Places to Stay

Ritz-Carlton

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Only seven years young, the downtown Ritz-Carlton feels like an old-fashioned grand hotel, where bellmen wear white gloves and the clubby old-boy bar fairly rings with the sound of shoulders being clapped. An ongoing renovation is restyling all 300 guest rooms (retro bentwood armchairs in zippy velour are in, cherry credenzas with fussy brass drawer-pulls are out), but the sumptuous marble bathrooms with big gilt mirrors will remain. The biggest nod to modernity, though, comes with the second- and third-floor Sports Club/LA fitness center; its 100,000 square feet of fat-burning splendor and huge spa are open to guests for a fee.

Insider Tip: The hotel's chocolate chef — yes, that's his job description — lays out an array of sweet treats every afternoon near the elevators.

Room to Book: Of the standard rooms, the courtyard premier units are quietest and have the best views — over the eponymous expansive courtyard with its waterfall and Japanese garden.

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