November 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM
The Washington area has impressive outdoor ice skating rinks. But no facility in the region can match the views from the temporary rink atop the Watergate Hotel.
Opening Nov. 16, the rink lets skaters enjoy sweeping views along the Potomac River, from the Air Force Memorial to the spires of Georgetown University, in addition to feeling the wind in their hair as they glide around 1,400 square feet of synthetic ice.
During warm months, being on the rooftop itself was the attraction at the bar Top of the Gate, but for winter, one large section of tables and chairs is now replaced by an oval-shaped rink, surrounded by waist-high walls, which can hold 40 to 50 skaters at a time.
Beyond the scenic vistas, the rink has something that others in the area don't: a skate-up bar on one side of the narrow oval, so thirsty guests can order a cocktail or glass of wine without leaving the ice. This means you have to slow down and be more alert than usual for people hanging out along the boards, and if you're looking to practice your speedskating and fancy turns, this 70-by-20-foot rink probably isn't the place to do it.
There will probably be as many people enjoying the scene as on the ice: The Watergate has tables with fire pits in the middle, surrounded by couches that groups can reserve. Smaller tables and seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The drink menu includes mulled wine, hot bourbon-spiked cider and boozy Swiss hot chocolate with Jameson and Bailey's Irish Cream, with most drinks at $16. Admission ($10-$20) includes one hour of ice time, although guests can linger as long as they want, or just go up to the rooftop for a drink without skating.
Downstairs, the Next Whisky Bar's patio will be filled with 12-foot plastic “igloos,” which look like enormous snow globes fitted out with furniture and heaters. Each of the all-weather private rooms will have a different theme. The first one to be completed is a hygge setting, with white fur-covered chairs, tall white candles, vases full of white flowers and a snow-dusted Christmas tree.
Reservations for the igloos cost $200 for three hours, with a variety of food and drink packages ranging from a “contemporary” afternoon tea with sweets, savory sandwiches and champagne for $50 per person to a cigar-and-whiskey pairing with house cigars (created by Knicks great John Starks) and flights of bourbon or Scotch ($75-$150).
$20 per adult and $10 for children age 12 and younger; includes skate rental. No advance ticket sales. Open 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.