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Jefferson SpaThe 99-room Jefferson Hotel feels like a chic European hotel, seemingly staffed at every turn by a competent multi-national: a Swiss receptionist, an Italian bartender, a French spa director. What was once a sober D.C. institution, virtually echoing our forefathers’ preferences in hospitality and design before its renovation completed in August 2009, now has flourishes of wit (guest-room curtains patterned in architectural blueprints drawn by Thomas Jefferson) and worldliness. Plus it has great restaurant, terrific in-room soaking tubs, and a boite of a spa—which makes it a fit for an increasingly cosmopolitan Washington, D.C.

The tiny Spa at the Jefferson, lined in mother-of-pearl, makes up for its two-treatment-room size with surprising therapy prowess. The 90-minute Jefferson Ultimate Bliss proved blissful thanks to Francis “Bud” Earley. The bodywork polymath, with 36 years of experience, certainly contributed to my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Bud was trained as a Rolfer, partly by Dr. Rolf herself, and later as a therapeutic massage therapist, specializing in treating chronic pain. So he was able to gently help a hamstring injury, more vigorously undo copious shoulder knots, and provide a hard-to-find cranial-sacral head massage as a finale. A bag of tricks like his is rare, and because most of the massages on the menu are customized to the guest, it’s also a necessity. Other popular treatments include the Darphin Divine 8 Flower Ultimate Anti-Aging Facials, and body treatments with the natural Red Flower line that makes use of a private steam shower.


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Pair these with the spa’s coddling service touches—all treatments start with a healthy amuse bouche and a small smoothie in your guest room before you’re led to the spa—and you can understand why appointments can be hard to come by, particularly when Congress is in. A wonderful recourse besides early booking? Securing the Spa Suite for your stay. It’s a king-bed guest room that connects through a door to a couple’s treatment room with its own steam room and soaking tub, so the therapists come to you. Another rarity.


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