The rooftop of Bethesda's Doubletree hotel, located at the northern end of downtown Bethesda, has a lot going for it: a pool surrounded by a huge deck and 16th-story views of the city, the neighboring NIH campus and a carpet of green stretching from Virginia to Silver Spring. There was just nothing being done with it.
That changed in 2010, when the Tree Top Tropical Thursdays made the hotel a happy-hour destination, with waits of 20 minutes or more to get in. Besides the views, the draws include free food, DJs spinning radio hits and club tunes, and plenty of furniture for groups to hang out on and catch up.
The party proved so popular last summer that, for 2012, it is being expanded to a day-long gathering on Sundays.
Those people in the pool? They're not hotel guests. The young Bethesdians at the party make use of the hotel's changing rooms, trading work clothes for swimsuits.
"It's a great view and a lot of fun," says Tevis Hannington, 21, an American University student. "If you're looking for the cheapest drink in Bethesda, this isn't the place, but there's no cover and everybody's in a good mood. I think the view's worth it."
The bar serves bottled beer and frozen cocktails, and by the end of the night, an impromptu dance party is underway.
"It's awesome," adds Mohammed Ndoye, 40, who owns a construction business. "You can relax, and the people are very nice -- it's not bourgie. Everyone's from different backgrounds." His favorite part is the view. "You can watch the sun go down. It's beautiful; it reminds me of back home in Senegal."
-- Fritz Hahn (updated May 2012)