The Jefferson in Washington, D.C., has a long history dating back to its days as an apartment building in 1923. Sources said the business and leisure-driven boutique hotel relies on the authenticity of its staff and partnerships with local institutions to provide guests with the best stay possible.
WASHINGTON—No two days are the same working at The Jefferson, which is one of many reasons why David Bueno loves working at the hotel.
As the GM of The Jefferson, Bueno said multiple hats are needed to run the Washington, D.C.-based boutique hotel.
“I love the reward of receiving great compliments from guests because that means we did our job well,” he said via email. “I love (seeing) the growth of our associates as they become better professionals and achieve higher roles. I also simply love the organized chaos of hospitality, where two days are never the same.”
The Jefferson’s history
The Jefferson was originally designed in 1923 by French architect Jules Henri de Sibour and was built as a luxury apartment building, according to Meredith Goldberg, director of marketing and communications at the hotel. The property was turned into a hotel in the 1950s, and was acquired by new owners in 2007 “who determined to renovate the historic structure to a level worthy of its namesake,” she said via email.
The hotel renovation was expected to be completed in six months, but ended up taking two-and-a-half years. Updates included “major structural works, full systems updating and a complete redesign of the interior,” Goldberg added.
An “astonishing discovery” was made during the renovation, she said. A domed skylight lobby that was built in 1923 was found over what is today the hotel’s casual dining outlet, The Greenhouse.
In a story Hotel News Now wrote last month on hotel historians, Susan Sullivan Lagon, historian at The Jefferson, said the skylight was covered during World War II as it was seen as a potential target for foreign aircraft bombers.
- Click here to read more about the hotel’s Book Room, which features some of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite books.
D.C. business and local partnerships
Many of the guests who stay at the 99-room Jefferson are business professionals and international diplomats in town for meetings and events, and “the rest of our guests are families or individuals visiting D.C. for leisure,” Goldberg said.
Spring and fall are the busiest seasons for the hotel, she added.
“During the fall, we receive predominantly business travelers and a lot of parents dropping their children off at the many D.C. colleges,” she said. “Spring is also business-heavy, while the city's beloved cherry blossoms always bring in a large transient crowd.”
Summer is a slower period for the hotel, which requires creative programming to attract guests, Goldberg said. Last summer, the hotel offered room packages inspired by the Broadway show “Hamilton,” which tied in with performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The hotel also offered “custom-themed walking itineraries” of Washington, D.C., to guests which were created by Lagon.
Since the hotel is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., Goldberg said The Jefferson partners with many local organizations, including the International Spy Museum, The Smithsonian Associates and the National Museum of American History.
“As an independent hotel, it’s great to reach out to new audiences, and these partnerships allow us to do just that,” she said.
The Jefferson’s team
Bueno said watching associates grow in their roles and move up the ranks at the hotel is one of the perks of his job, and Goldberg said “there’s an authenticity to our team that you just won’t find anywhere else.”
She added that guests often comment on how welcoming the staff is at the hotel, and one of the biggest things she sees as a draw for guests is the amount of care the hotel’s team puts into each guest’s stay.
“As a 99-room hotel, we have the luxury of taking the time to actually get to know our guests, down to knowing who is allergic to strawberries and who prefers a Cabernet,” she said. “It’s these details that make each guest feel as if The Jefferson is truly their home away from home.”