The Fairfax at Embassy Row

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Discover the Fairfax at Embassy Row, which has hosted Washington, D.C. social elite and dignataries since the 1920s.

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The Fairfax at Embassy Row, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, dates back to 1927.


The Fairfax at Embassy Row is a proud member of Historic Hotels of America and its sibling program, Historic Hotels Worldwide. This spectacular holiday destination first opened its doors in 1927 as “The Fairfax Hotel” to great acclaim. With more than 80 years as an elegant and intimate hotel, it has revolved around notable figures including, the several U.S. Presidents. From the opening of the Dupont Circle hotel, distinguished guests were instantly drawn to its stately elegance. Designed by noted architect, B. Stanley Simmons, The Fairfax at Embassy Row was built in a Colonial Revival style which, today, is part of the Dupont Circle Historic District and the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District.

Upon its opening in 1927, room rates were $4.00 per night, an exorbitant amount for that time, for a double occupancy suite which included a parlor, bedroom, and full bath. In 1932, Colonel H. Grady Gore purchased the luxurious hotel and so began an era where congressmen, senators, and ambassadors began to establish The Fairfax as a permanent residence. A young Al Gore was one of the more notable tenants, as well as Mrs. Henry Cabot Lodge, Admiral and Mrs. Chester William Nimitz, and Senator John L. McClellan. Senator and Mrs. Prescott Bush, along with their son, George H.W. Bush, also called The Fairfax home during their visits to Washington DC.

During World War II, The Fairfax at Embassy Row transformed as a sanctuary for soldiers visiting the nation's capital. The Gore family established the policy of never turning away a man in uniform, even when their arrival became a daily occurrence. Even when the hotel was fully occupied, public areas were converted into makeshift sleeping quarters with fold-away cots. Every effort was made to house the country's soldiers. After the war, America marched on into the 1950s, where The Fairfax at Embassy Row became an exclusive destination. Glamour reached new heights while sealing its destiny as Washington DC's trendsetter. The "insider" parties held at the famed hotel kept it on the tip of everyone's tongue. Shortly after this identity emerged, The Fairfax at Embassy Row hosted the inaugural breakfast for President Eisenhower.

In 1961, the original Jockey Club restaurant opened. It was inspired by New York's legendary eatery, "21." In time, the restaurant became a gathering place for President John F. Kennedy's "Camelot.” Nancy Reagan was known for being a regular at the establishment, with a corner table preference and a salad in her namesake. Other well-known personalities to hang out at The Jockey Club include Vernon Jordan, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando and President Bill Clinton. By 1975, the Washington Metrorail became a staple mode of transportation which comfortably moved people around the city. Located just one and a half blocks from Dupont Circle Station, The Fairfax at Embassy Row has continued to grow and evolve with the times to meet the needs of its guests.

  • About the Location +

    The Fairfax at Embassy Row is located in the heart of the Northwestern Quadrant of Washington, DC. It specifically resides along a section of Massachusetts Avenue that many have referred to as “Embassy Row” for decades. Embassy Row is currently home to the many international embassies, including Ireland, Greece, and India. Yet, this section of Massachusetts Avenue was not always known as “Embassy Row”—on the contrary, most local residents knew of the area as “Millionaire’s Row.” Some of the city’s most influential citizens lived in ornate mansions on this stretch of road around the turn of the 20th century. But the financial hardships of The Great Depression caused many of these affluent individuals to sell their residences. Powerful international dignitaries then began establishing their embassies on “Millionaire’s Row,” starting with the arrival of the British and the Japanese. By the 1950s, the former “Millionaire’s Row” had become home to the largest concentration of foreign diplomats throughout the entire city. In order to protect the many historic structures that inhabited this part of Washington, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed the area as the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District in 1974.

    The Fairfax at Embassy Row is also a contributing structure within the greater Dupont Circle Historic District. Known today for its iconic traffic circle, this neighborhood is among the most historic places in Washington, DC. It forms part of the nucleus for the “Old City,” which French military engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed back in 1791. Dupont Circle remained largely undeveloped though, until the Army Corps of Engineers created the traffic circle in 1871. They used L’Enfant’s original plan to create the construct, which they initially called “Pacific Circle.” Congress intervened and decided to rename the structure after Samuel Francis Du Pont for his service as a Union admiral during the American Civil War. Congress subsequently commissioned the creation of a statue in his likeness that would sit at the center of the traffic circle. Designed by sculpture Launt Thompson, the monument was unveiled before a large crowd in 1884.

    Dozens of luxurious townhouses and manor homes quickly emerged in DuPont Circle following the dedication of Admiral Du Pont’s monument. They served as the residences for the nation’s most powerful figures, including Senator Philetus Sawyer and U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Most of these buildings became famous for their Queen Anne and Richardson Romanesque-style architecture. But several other unique design principles characterized the appearances for other buildings, too, including the Italianate-themed Patterson Mansion. Another group of celebrated architectural icons in the area were the Second Empire-inspired rowhomes of N Street’s 2000 block. But perhaps the greatest structural landmark in the neighborhood is an area known as Striver’s Section. Located along the 1700 block of T Street, Striver’s Section was once an active enclave for the city’s vibrant African American community. Legendary civil rights activist Frederick Douglass even owner a series of townhouses in Striver’s Section toward the end of the 19th century.

  • About the Architecture +

    A noted architect, B. Stanley Simmons originally designed the iconic façade of The Fairfax at Embassy Row. He chose a beautiful blend of Colonial Revival-style architecture to create the hotel’s appearance. Simmons was initially a student of the Beaux-Arts tradition, despite never having attended the famed École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Yet, he eventually became an ardent follower of various architectural “Revival” styles with the dawn of the City Beautiful Movement in the 1890s. Simmons’ career spanned some five decades during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in which he brilliantly designed more than 280 buildings throughout Washington, DC. He specifically started his career designing townhouses, before partnering with some of the city’s great architectural firms to construct commercial buildings. Some of Simmons’ grandest work in the District is reflected at such iconic building’s like the National Metropolitan Bank Building, the Elks Club, and the Wyoming Apartments. All three of these structures are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    One of the greatest architectural components of The Fairfax at Embassy Row was its historic restaurant—The Jockey Club. Opened in 1961, this spectacular dining establishment was designed by Louise Gore to resemble the stunning restaurants she encountered in Europe while working for UNESCO. The inspiration for the name “The Jockey Club” even came from two similar venues that she had visited in London and Madrid around the same time. It quickly became a hotspot for Washington’s socialites, including foreign dignitaries, powerful lobbyists, and national legislators. Among the most celebrated of its guests included singer Frank Sinatra, actor Marlon Brando, and U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Yet, The Jockey Club closed temporarily in 2001, when Starwood Hotels and Resorts replaced it with another restaurant called “Cabo.” The Pyramid Hotel Group attempted to revitalize The Jockey Club following its purchase of the hotel a few years later, although the venture did not prove to be financially lucrative. It shut down permanently in 2011 and was replaced by The Capitol Room.

    The Fairfax at Embassy Row underwent a more recent renovation in 2018. Spearheaded by Rockwell Group—an acclaimed architectural firm based out of New York—the project saw the integration of fluid communal spaces that were expansive, yet tranquil. The Rockwell Group hoped that its work in redesigning the interior would better appeal to modern travelers who yearned for guestrooms that reflected a sense of place and community. The specific parts of the building that garnered most attention were the interior lobby and ground-floor reception area. Painted in a wonderful hue of emerald green, their restored walnut wood accents interacted brilliantly with the new décor. The Rockwell Group also focused on recreating the dining area inside The Fairfax at Embassy Row, building two new venues known as “The SALLY” and “The Market.” The SALLY is now a fine dining establishment named for the region’s historic Fairfax family, while The Market is currently an upscale café that offers delicious snacks and beverages.

  • Famous Historic Events +

    First Inaugural Breakfast for President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953): Dwight D. Eisenhower’s First Inaugural Breakfast was part of a greater series of events that transpired as part of his swearing in as the 34th President of the United States. Known throughout the country as “Ike,” Eisenhower had originally rose to national prominence by serving as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II. He was specifically responsible for overseeing the invasion of Axis-occupied French North Africa in 1942, as well as the Allied advance through Western Europe from 1944 to 1945. Eisenhower had also spent time serving as the Army Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman in the years immediately following the end of the war. Eisenhower had ventured into the world of national politics to stop the rise of the isolationist Robert A. Taft (a descendant of President William Howard Taft), who was wholeheartedly opposed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Eisenhower eventually beat out Taft for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1952, going on to beat Adlai Stevenson II during the general election of that same year. He was then sworn into office on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol Building by Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson on January 20, 1953.

    Eisenhower’s inauguration marked the beginning of a two-term presidency that became among the most historic in American history. A moderate conservative, Ike sought to spread the halt of international communism without dragging the United States into another world war. He successfully ended the Korean War by establishing an armistice between North and South Korea that still exists today. Eisenhower also began providing aid against the Vietnamese communists and defused the tense Suez Crisis. His race to outdo the Soviets even led to the creation of NASA, following Russia’s launch of the Sputnik satellite. At home, Eisenhower crafted the Interstate Highway System and helped end McCarthyism. But Ike’s most enduring legacy in the realm of domestic policy was his support of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The first national civil rights bill passed into law since the end of Reconstruction, it followed in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. It sought to protect African American voting rights, although it did not have its intended effect throughout the South. Yet, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 would later empower Congress to pass more effective civil rights legislation in the 1960s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Julie Andrews, actress known for her roles in movies like The Princess Diaries, Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music.

    Marlon Brando, actor known for his roles in movies like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

    Eva Gabor, actress best remembered for her role as Lisa Douglas on the hit television show, Green Acres.

    Frank Sinatra, singer and actor part of the famous Rat Pat known for selling 150 million records worldwide.

    Joe DiMaggio, celebrated baseball player known as “The Yankee Clipper.”

    Estée Lauder, founder of cosmetics company Estée Lauder Companies.

    Vernon Jordan, prominent civil rights activist during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

    Chester William Nimitz, Fleet Admiral and Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet during World War II.

    Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979 – 1990)

    John L. McClellan, Democratic Senator from Arkansas (1943 – 1977)

    Prescott Bush, Republican Senator from Connecticut (1952 – 1963)

    Albert Gore, Sr., Democratic Senator from Tennessee (1952 – 1971)

    Albert Gore, Jr., 45th President of the United States (1993 – 2001)

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963)

    Nancy Reagan, First Lady of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989)

    Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953 – 1961) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe during World War II.

    John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (1961 – 1963)

    Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States (1977 – 1981)

    George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989 – 1993)

    Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1933 – 2001)

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