P.O.V. Bar at the W Hotel

29Nov09

DC streets are deserted the night before Thanksgiving with most Washingtonians traveling to their home states.  For locals like me and those who have chosen to stay behind for the holiday, it’s the perfect evening to explore normally congested destinations.  To take advantage of the quiet social scene, I visited the W Hotel’s Point of View (P.O.V.) Bar and Rooftop Terrace for the first time.

P.O.V. is located at 515 15th Street NW across the street from the White House.  It has stunning views of the Capital skyline, from a unique mid-height perspective of the Washington Monument to the roof of the White House East Wing.  The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are clearly visible and airplanes regularly circle through Arlington’s horizon as they descend into National Airport.

P.O.V. strives for an exclusive air, and I understand that – it’s part of the appeal.  I had heard rumors about the interminable lines and offensive prices, but that the views are incredible.  I figured Thanksgiving was the right occasion to celebrate at this swanky location.  I called ahead to check whether the bar would be open and gauge if I needed a reservation.  The person who took my reservation lived up to the snobby reputation with her patronizing way of extending “yessss” in response to my questions and informing me that reservations are always required for the terrace.

As you enter the hotel, you follow a velvet-roped carpet to the one elevator that reaches the bar.  The staff is called “The Talent”. A clipboard wielding staff/Talent member checks for your name on the list, radios to a receiving staff member upstairs, and then escorts you on the elevator.  As hoped, the bar was not very crowded and many tables with Reserved table cards were never filled.

White stencil patterned screens divide the reserved sections of plush couches and side tables.  The standing area of the bar does not require reservations and there were several cabaret tables available.  There is another indoor bar area that also has a great view and had a DJ spinning.  During winter when heat lamps warm the terrace and clear plastic window attachments further shield the cold, I don’t see much difference between the indoor area and terrace except for the expansive view.  The terrace is likely more pleasant during summertime when it becomes a true open-air bar.  It’s a very dark bar with red lights and white candles, but I wonder if the dim lighting was aesthetic as well as functional: you can’t see the prices so you can’t object to how egregious they are.  P.O.V. designer cocktails are $15 and warming cocktails are a steal at $10 each.

I considered ordering a wine cocktail and asked the waitress if she recommended it.  She replied, “Well, do you like the ingredients?”  Not encouraging.  I hesitated and she said that I could return it if I didn’t like it, so I went ahead with the order.  The drink was practically just sparkling water with lemon, so I gladly took her up on her offer and ordered a Hot Spiced Pear warming cocktail instead.  She kept the drink on our table anyway without charging us for it and JP used it to cleanse his palate between scotches.  The pear cocktail was such an extreme and better option: pear cider, bourbon, and cinnamon spice blended together in a steaming mug.  It tasted like a warm pear tart – delicious!  We shared a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert that was a little dry, but went well with the pear flavor.

P.O.V. did not change my point of view of living in DC.  A bar of that caliber could only be found in a cosmopolitan metropolis, though there wasn’t anything else special about it except for the view.  As a non-native to DC, JP was enthralled with the skyline.  In contrast, all I could think about was how many iterations of it I had already seen from different vantage points.  There is no question that the city’s skyline is a beautiful sight, but that alone won’t convince me, DC.

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8 Responses to “P.O.V. Bar at the W Hotel”

  1. 1 Johnny D

    Alas, JP is easily amused.

    • Aww, poor JP being used as my literary device… Though the skyline was sparkly and bright so what more can a guy really ask for?!

  2. I finally realized the hotel was finished when I started hearing people talk about the P.O.V. bar. I quickly judged that the place is really leveraging their location when I heard of the pretentiousness and the prices. It’s a shame because I heard the old Washington Hotel was much more down to Earth.

    Regardless I have to add this to my list of things to-do in DC.

    • It will be interesting to see how long POV can maintain the buzz. Definitely try it out for yourself, especially with out-of-towners!

  3. 5 stephen

    i second johnny’s above comment ;-)

  4. 6 AG

    Time’s most powerful man in the world lives across the street. I think they could suck and still be pretentious. What’s up Convince Me? Your Thanksgiving posting was so happy. What brought you down?

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