Then again, this is a city where the law ensures that no building will be higher than the Capitol. So finding that perfect window seat is harder than it looks.
We scoped out some of the best rooms with a view, from two vantage points: water scenes and skyline scenes. Here's what we saw:
Up in the Air
Sky Terrace at the Hotel Washington
Even on weeknights the joint is packed end to end with beautiful people talking and lounging under the broad tan-and-white striped awning. Tiny ivory fans circle overhead, although on cooler days the breeze coming off the Mall provides all the air you need. A glass of wine or a beer will set you back the standard $4-$5, and appetizers include such standard munchies as egg rolls and buffalo wings ($5-$8). The green wicker chairs are packed so close together that you're within elbow's reach of the next table, so this isn't exactly the spot for a super-intimate moment. But then, that's what the hotel rooms are for. M. Franco Salvoza
JW's View Steakhouse and Lounge (1401 Lee Highway; 703/524-6400) has all the spirit and character you'd expect from an airport lounge or for that matter, the rooftop restaurant in a run-of-the-mill hotel. But this is one view worth checking out. The combination of Georgetown's red-brick architecture, all those verdant trees and the monuments downriver sum up what this city is all about in a way that works equally well for tourists and residents. Although the dining room is spacious, at cocktail hour one recent weekday evening, we were unceremoniously barred from the "good" tables near the huge glass windows since we were only drinking, not eating dinner. Although we were miffed (the place wasn't even half-full), the truth is the view from the bar tables, up a couple of steps from the dining area, is just as good. Anne Glusker
The Holiday Inn Rosslyn's Vantage Point Rooftop Restaurant
The atmosphere is casual and surprisingly Muzak-free, with the chatter of the clientele providing the only noise. You're just as likely to see a T-shirt-clad hotel visitor as a business-suited traveler. Menu selections are few, and on the pricey side. Appetizers like shrimp cocktail, crab dip and escargot are in the $6-$7 range, while entrees are closer to $20. Beer and wine, however, are only $3-$4. Unlike some view restaurants, the Vantage Point isn't picky about where you sit. Even if you're only having the drinks, the staff practically trip over themselves to help you, inviting you to sit "anywhere you like." M. Franco Salvoza
Capitol View Club in the Hyatt Regency Hotel
It's hard to imagine a better view than the one from the Skydome Lounge (300 Army Navy Dr., Crystal City; 703/416-4100). From one end, you can see airplanes taking off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, while on the other you have an unobstructed vista west toward the sunset. In between you can see practically every landmark in the nation's capital. And you get all of this in a rotating turret, which in less than an hour allows you to take it all in without leaving your seat. (See what we mean by taking a 360 degree view from the middle of the restaurant.)
Alas, the view is pretty much the only thing worth mentioning here. Picture a small town where the hotel bar is the only place to go. A DJ station sits in the middle of the room, surrounded by a small parquet dance floor. Four televisions hang from the ceiling, and a row of disco lights completes the picture. Tourists in rugby shirts groove to hits of the '70s.
The bar features a full range of frozen and blender drinks, and a limited menu offers appetizers and sandwiches. As with most view places, prices seem a little inflated. From 5 to 7 p.m. there is a $2.75 all-you-can-eat buffet, with a one-drink minimum. Ben Abramson
On the Water
The two tried-and-true ways to see Washington's water views while having a drink are to head down to the Southwest Waterfront to Hogate's, Phillips, Le Rivage (1000 Water St. SW; 202/488-8111) or the newer H.I. Ribster's (800 Water St. SW; 202/479-6857) or to board one of the tourboats that ply the river the Dandy (703/683-6076), the Spirit of Washington (202/554-7447) or the Odyssey (888/822-5991). But there's so much more to Washington's waterfront . . .
Tony & Joe's
The Chart House
After dark, the lights of Washington sparkle across the water, and the planes taking off from the nearby airport are beautiful albeit noisy to behold. On the deck, you're only a few yards from the water's edge, so you can stare at the ducks paddling around as you sip your cocktail.
The food is nothing much to speak of the best appetizers are a tasty beef and spinach ravioli ($5.95) and the tuna nicoise salad ($9.50). If you can, plan to visit Potowmack Landing on the late side planes can't take off or land after 10, so things are a lot more serene after that. Anne Glusker
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
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