M Bar at Renaissance M Street Hotel

Lounge
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Editorial Review

Most art in hotels tends to be, well, boring: vapid watercolors and oils of country lanes, boats at sea and tired still lifes.

And that's exactly what you won't find at the Renaissance M Street's bar and lounge.

Thanks to a new partnership with the Corcoran's College of Art and Design, works by 10 students hang throughout the space, from Sarah Robbins's enormous painting "Krake," depicting a giant octopus, to Hernan Gigena's bright, whimsical "drawings" made from colored masking tape. All are displayed with a label identifying the artist and the materials used, "just like we'd have in the gallery," says Kristin Guiter, the Corcoran's head of public relations.

The art is displayed in the lounge, over leather couches and comfortable booths. The overall effect is understated: If you didn't know it was an exhibition, you might just think the hotel had installed some cool modern art. (If you want the full tour effect, information about the artists and their creations is available in the bar or at the front desk.)

Artists and art will rotate quarterly, and "we hope to do something like a wine tasting with each exhibition, so we can introduce the public to Corcoran students," Guiter says. "It's like a gallery opening."

If you need an extra incentive to stop in, how's this: half-price bottles of white wine on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., so you're looking at an average of $15 to $20 per bottle. And on Saturday and Sunday, the all-day "Renaissance Man" happy hour means that any drink with a man's name (such as Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo or Sam Adams) is $4.

-- Fritz Hahn (May 8, 2009)