Sometimes you just need a little staycation to rediscover some of the great things your city has to offer. Chelsea and I did just that and packed our bags for an overnight at the AC Hotel by Marriott in the National Harbor. We hung out with some really fun local influencers and found out just what it means to live the #HarborLife.
Let me start by saying I’m no stranger to Marriott. Platinum Elite Rewards Member, stayed 151 nights last year alone… yeah that’s me. So when I found out they’re opening a new brand, AC Hotel, and it’s coming to the Washington DC Area, I was really excited to stay there. It has a more modern and sophisticated feel than the other Marriott hotels with things like wine on tap in their lobby bar, tapas in the AC Lounge, and Tom Ford coffee table books in the sitting area.
We had a super luxurious two-bedroom room with an incredible view of the Potomac River and the Capital Wheel. If the view alone wasn’t enough to win us over, the modern vibe of the lobby carried over into the amenities in the room. Outlets with USB chargers, TVs that connected to your phone, Bluetooth so you can play your Pandora throughout the room while you get dressed (or while you put on a full concert including choreography in the over-sized showers… hello acoustics). And then there are the beds. They were so comfortable we didn’t want to get out of them.
Literally the only reason we abandoned our pillow forts in the morning was because we heard breakfast was something we didn’t want to miss. So we pried ourselves out of the beds where the blankets accepted us as one of their own and made it downstairs to the AC Kitchen. The breakfast is European-inspired with pastries, espressos, parfaits, quiche, and all the yummy French carbs your little heart desires. A wise man (aka Pinterest) once said carbs don’t count on vacation so we carb-loaded like we were prepping for a marathon. My favorite part about it beside the food and the fact that they have almond milk, the time. Seriously what do hotels think when they make breakfast like 6:30 – 8:30 .. bite me. AC Hotel in the Harbor served breakfast until 11:00 am. Now that is much more in line with vacation mode.
You’re within walking distance of the National Harbor Marina and the Capital Wheel, and even though the National Harbor is technically in Maryland, it’s still considered the DC area because it’s just that close. So if you’re not from the area and want to experience DC and the Harbor without actually staying in DC proper, this is a great spot to get the best of both worlds.
Get all the monuments and things out of the way but definitely save time for all the National Harbor itself has to offer because it’s a lot.
If you’re into discount shopping, the Tanger Outlets is here with over 80 name brand stores. pro tip: Get the coupon book. It’s $5 and has coupons from almost every store. It literally pays for itself in your savings from one store.
After retail therapy, there are some of the other highlights from the harbor:
- The Capital Wheel featuring the Flight Deck. This 180-foot observation wheel will provide perfect views of the DMV and the new Flight Deck serves wine, beer, cider and non-alcoholic drinks you can take in a commemorative cup up into the Wheel.
- Miller Farms Farmer’s Market. This is pop-up farmer’s market where you can get fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, flowers and more.
- Go on an Art Walk. Explore National Harbor’s various outdoor statues, sculptures and mosaics. Most of them are along American Way and its main plaza.
- Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Here is a 1.5 acre indoor garden atrium, Relâche Spa, retail shops, and in the winter you don’t want to miss “Ice” where you’re transported to a winter wonderland (complete with full coats so you don’t get too cold). Boutique Shopping. Stroll through National Harbor’s riverside streets to shop at confectioneries and boutiques including South Moon Under, Stonewall Kitchen and Local Motors.
- Muse Paintbar. Now this was fun. We did an “Under the Fall Trees” Class and while I don’t think we’ll be quitting our day jobs and becoming painters anytime soon, we did surprise ourselves thanks to the great instructor… and wine goggles… that helps too. I wouldn’t wear your best outfit just in case you’re a slob kabob but they do have aprons to cover your clothes too.
- MGM Casino. You can’t walk to it from AC Hotel, I mean you could if that’s your jam, but it’s a short and inexpensive Uber ride that’s basically across the main road into the harbor. Really cute shopping, like the SJP store *heart eyes*, and some renowned restaurants. We ate dinner at Fish by José Andrés and it did not disappoint. We both wore black Cinq A Sept dresses and were not overdressed at all. Keep it classy at Fish, Darlings.
Fish by José Andrés celebrates the best of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, while including time-honored cooking techniques from around the world. Fish will showcase the region’s bounty in live seafood tanks and interactive cooking stations, bringing guests seafood dining in a way that only José Andrés can.
To be honest, Chels and I would rather eat than party but we do like a good turn up every now and then and there are more options than we thought there’d be at the National Harbor. There’s The Walrus Oyster & Ale House almost right under the AC Hotel, Granite City Food and Brewery, and Bobby McKeys Piano Bar.
We ended our night at the MGM. Felt Bar inside of MGM Casino had on “the fight”. Don’t ask me which one, Chels knows… there were sequined shorts involved… I digress. After “the fight”, Felt had DJ driven sounds with classic cocktails, some season specialties, and of course champs. It was a very mixed but classy crowd from 20s-60s wearing sweaters and slacks to full floral suits *umm okay… sips tea*. Keep your attire upscale to adhere to the dress code and you’re in for an entertaining evening. On our way to the Uber we checked out the casino floor but not to play at any of the tables or slot machines, it was 90% people-watching and 10% looking for the Britney Spears slots machines. Which we found and played one round before we left. We deposited $20 at the MGM bank (aka the slot machine) and left with priceless memories. No winnings. But hey, cheers to the memories.
This is how we lived the #HarborLife. How Do You Harbor, Darlings?