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This past week, women made history: The first female was elected Vice President of the United States. And as Madame VP Kamala Harris so beautifully stated, "I will not be the last." Wearing a bright purple suit to the inauguration, Harris honored Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress and a courageous pioneer for women in American politics who famously said, "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." These empowering messages didn't just project from the loud speaker on the National Mall this Wednesday: They echoed throughout the whole world, supporting a movement of unity and equality that we — so very much — need to act on together.
Perhaps with this spirit in mind, when acclaimed hotel brand Viceroy set out to launch their second D.C. property, Hotel Zena, at the nexus of downtown where Thompson Circle meets vibrant 14th Street, they didn't want to just open any new hotel with fancy mini bar snacks and a trendy apothecary. They set out to honor this pivotal moment in history by celebrating the accomplishments of women and the enduring struggle for gender equality in an immersive space, designed primarily by women, for all genders, races, and sexualities to come together in unison. The 191-room hotel is thoughtfully curated with provocative artwork that showcases female empowerment, including a larger-than-life portrait of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made from 20,000 hand-painted tampons, and a reception desk constructed from up-cycled high heels. In the lobby, a wall-to-wall installation pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote with more than 12,000 protest pins representing several generations of marches and actions that fueled the triumphs and the continuing fight to make the world a more equitable place for women. The female power theme isn't only written on the walls. Art director Andrea Sheehan intends for the relaxed yet striking spaces, including the rooftop pool and lounge, to spark conversation and create a strong sense of community — hopefully one that will continue long after check-out.
At a Glance
The Vibe: With empowerment and inclusivity for all.
Standout Detail: Everyone the hotel partnered with to build the hotel — artists, designers, activists, even the organic female care company, CORA, who donated the tampons for the RBG mural — supports a mission for female unity and opportunity for women.
This Place Is Perfect For: Female SHE-EOs, entrepreneurs, and travelers who want to support hotels with a greater mission.
Rooms: Female power is on display in each of the 191 guest rooms, with soft colors and curved walls meant to celebrate the female body. The Greek goddess Artemis is depicted in each entryway. Gender-neutral amenities include Nespresso coffee machines, virtual concierge with Google Nest, and plenty of desk space for work-from-hotel stays.
On Site: Seasonal rooftop pool and bar with views of the D.C. skyline. Lobby lounge with game tables and lots of hangout space, and a nice-sized fitness center. A smart amenity the hotel provides is the Z Shed, like a she shed, with complimentary gadgets for rent to use during your stay, like Polaroid cameras, electric scooters and bikes, picnic baskets, board games, virtual reality glasses for Gen Xers, and Nintendos for young-at-heart baby boomers.
Food + Drink: Figleaf Bar and Lounge in the hotel lobby is a relaxed restaurant and co-working-friendly space with a cocktail menu featuring drinks dedicated to female icons throughout history. Coming this spring, Hedy's Rooftop will serve poolside snacks and drinks with private cabanas overlooking the downtown skyline.
Special Covid-19 Protocols: Viceroy's Promise of Cleanliness outlines the hotel's protocols to keeping guests and staff safe with masks required in all common areas.
What to Do Nearby
Grab a polaroid camera and an electric scooter from the Z Shed and explore nearby Dupont Circle, Logan Square, and the downtown area. If you're staying at a hotel dedicated to women, you can't miss the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which is the only museum solely dedicated to women's achievements in the performing, visual, and literary arts. The museum's atmosphere is striking in itself, housed in the old Masonic Temple and is a U.S. National Register of Historical Places to visit. Several of the best music halls in D.C. are also nearby — once we can return to a concert-friendly world.