Gay & Away: Washington, DC - May 2012

By: Jim Guttau

EDITOR'S NOTE: This marks our last Gay & Away feature from writer Jim Guttau, who is moving on to a stellar opportunity. We wish him well and thank him for his three years as a contributing writer to and

Turning 222 on July 16, 2012, Washington, D.C. had been an iconic trip for me as a teenager, but I never saw the city—or experienced it—like a local. Years later and planning my trip around the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, I thought it was a perfect time for a return to Washington, especially with a good friend recently moving there. And boy, did I live Washington like a resident—from outdoor cafes to the Victorian row houses of Logan Circle to revelry at neighborhood watering holes.

Check out the places my friends and I visited during my stay. (I'm the guy on the far left.)

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Donovan House

Located near Thomas Circle in the heart of Washington, D.C., Donovan House is a sleek, contemporary oasis in comparison to the typically traditional Washington hotels. On our stay, Donovan House had just converted to a Kimpton Hotel—the day we arrived. While I was thrilled to hear about the Kimpton change-over, I wondered how many hiccups we may encounter during our stay.

The front desk staff was obviously adjusting to a new computer system upon our arrival, but we were immediately greeted with a crisp white wine, a perfect distraction after a long day of travel. The lobby, with its chic furnishings and avocado and plum colors, almost takes on an outer space twist with its custom “egg” hanging chairs.

Walking into our suite, I couldn’t help but first notice the cocoon spiral shower in the all-marble bathroom. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels with unique showers, such as Hudson Hotel (New York City), but this one takes the cake. The chocolate leather canopy bed with custom-made 400 thread count SFERRA linens, I knew, would ensure a good bit of “shut-eye” after a night on the town.

The service was seamless during our visit—no waits on requests for additional towels or a wine opener. The downfall was my timing; the rooftop pool opened the next weekend. I should have stayed a bit longer.

You see, the Donovan House is known for its rooftop scene. Named ADC (Above DC), the rooftop lounge is where Washington recoups from a long work week, sipping on creative cocktails. Don’t worry, you are guaranteed solitude at the pool, as daytime hours are reserved for Donovan House hotel guests.

My “locals” kept me busy enough that I didn’t have a chance to dine at Donovan’s acclaimed Zentan restaurant, which serves inventive Asian cuisine from celebrity chef, Susur Lee.

Donovan House, I will be back. For the pool. I may skip the humid Washington summer, however.

Cuba Libre

One of my favorite dishes in Washington was a grilled octopus small plate at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar. My first venture with a baby octopus, and boy, it was delightful. Cuba Libre features “Nuevo Cubano” dishes by Chef Guillermo Pernot.

Located in the historic Dupont Circle, Floriana Floriana was the destination for my final meal in Washington. A pleasant Spring night warranted an alfresco dining experience. This charming café impresses with its Italian cuisine and carefully selected wine list.


Aptly named a “danceboutique, Town Town is Washington’s largest gay nightclub. Expect a cavernous space with plush lounges and large bars—with the showcase piece, the dance floor.

Nellie’s Sports Bar
Nellie’s was a trailblazer in the “gay sports bar” arena when it opened in 2007. Although many now have followed suit in other cities, Nellie’s offers a casual alternative to typical gay bars. I had their food twice within a weekend—this is a picture of me and my friends from inside Nellie's— and all I can say is corn dogs. Get the corn dogs.

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