Liaison Capitol Hill— An Affinia Hotel

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The Liaison is the new kid on the block among Capitol Hill hotels; it launched as a hotel and restaurant in October 2008. Its feel is artsy, and there’s a large focus on its restaurant, Art and Soul, where celebrity chef Art Smith—Oprah’s former personal chef—creates Southern-modern cuisine. The Art and Soul brand is woven into a lot of aspects of the hotel, including in-room dining.

This boutique hotel aims to be more than just a place to sleep. Its theme is “transformative ideals”—hence the name. The candlelit lobby includes six-foot portraits of world leaders who have brought people together. The whole hotel is decorated with day-in-the-life photographs of a Washington bureaucrat at various downtown spots.

The lobby flows into the ArtBar lounge, done up in woods and reds. Decor is modern and clean, but also comfortable and soothing with pillows, bowls of mixed nuts, and booths referred to as “conversation nooks.” There’s an outdoor patio, too—and it’s the only spot from which you can glimpse the Capitol dome down New Jersey Avenue. If you bring along your furry friend, the patio has a menu for dogs, including doggy beer.

The Liaison also touts another phrase, “customized comfort,” which does mean some perks for guests. In addition to motion-sensor lights and individual thermostats, the guest rooms offer a six-choice pillow menu—from Buckwheat to Swedish Memory to Magnetic Therapy to sound pillows, equipped with headphones to plug your iPod into. Guests can also rent Experience Kits for use during their stay, which include a Walking Tour Kit (which comes with an iPod, walking tour and playlists, city guidebook and map, pedometer, and towel); a StayFit Kit (with yoga mat and blocks, boot camp DVDs, rubber resistance bands, weights, and a city map); or a BYOB Kit (with wine carrier, little Black Book of Wine, coupons for a local wine boutique, and picnic blanket).

On the top floor is the fitness room and also a large rooftop pool area.

Insider tip: If you set up preferences with a My Affinia profile, you can get extras such as cupcakes, Champagne, yoga mats, a rubber duckie, and guitar each time you stay. Most of these amenities and services are free of charge.

Room amenities: in-room spa treatments, six-choice pillow system, two-line phones with voicemail and dataport (computer, fax, modem hook-up), energy-efficient custom temperature controls, 37-inch flat-screen TV, iPod connections for in-room alarm clock

Hotel amenities: pet-friendly, fitness room, business center with Macs, concierge, in-room dining 6 am to 11 pm through Art and Soul, on-site restaurant Art and Soul, seasonal rooftop pool and sundeck

Things nearby: Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Union Station/Amtrak, U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court