Shopping

36 Ways to Spend a Bajillion Dollars in Washington

Your guide to goods and services in a new gilded age.
Illustrations by Jason Schneider.

Washington thinks of itself as a city of power rather than wealth, where folks spend trillions in taxpayer money, then drive home in sensible mid-market cars. In recent decades, that vibe has been harder to maintain. Yet the glittery new Washington remains a place still not quite used to over-the-top displays of deep pockets. But that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Look closely and you’ll find that Washington hosts a whole economy of splendor—including a few things the rest of us might even get to try on a splurge (strictly in the name of anthropology, of course). Here’s a sampling.

Task Rabbit on a Champagne Budget

Jim Spiro, founder of Platinum Lifestyle Management, will do just about anything for his customers—at $500 a month for five client-chosen tasks or $1,000 a month for unlimited service.

“We have keys to all of our clients’ homes so we can come and go. How many times do people stress about needing to work late while their dry cleaning is ready at the shop? We can pick it up and drop it off at their house. If they’re driving and the service light comes on, we can take their car in. They just make one phone call or text message. Once, a client’s hot-water heater went out at 11 pm. We got someone out to vacuum up the water, turn the water off, and the next day put a new water heater in. One of my clients called me her ‘rent-a-husband’ because we take care of everything. We become like a part of their family.”

Conspicuous Condo Consumption

Five of the highest-end high-rise amenities right now.

1. The sommelier in residence.

At downtown Bethesda’s the Lauren, Jarad Slipp, one of the world’s 236 master sommeliers, does tastings and consultations in the wine room, where residents can use a private wine locker when their fridge is full. 4901 Hampden La., Bethesda.

2. The rooftop dog park.

Not only can dogs frolic on the sky-high turf at City Market at O, but if they somehow manage to pick up turf stains, an adjacent grooming room, complete with pet-bathing sinks, is there to help. 770 P St., NW.

3. The virtual-reality driving range.

Residents of the Esplanade at National Harbor get to whack at the ball after a bad day or prep for a round at the complex’s HD Golf Simulator, loaded with five championship courses. 250 American Way, Oxon Hill.

4. The residents-only fitness center.

Equinox gym is already the favored pain palace of the upper echelon. The One Hill South building found a way to let working out get even more exclusive: import an Equinox facility gym that only residents can join. 28 K St., SE.

5. The rooftop saltwater pool.

Residents can swim atop the Yale West building secure in the knowledge that they won’t stink of chlor­ine like residents of your basic luxurious buildings. 443 New York Ave., NW.

Face-Off

Facial for You

The service: Gold and Diamond Facial at the Spa at Four Seasons 2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-342-0444.

The details: Starts with an “ultrasonic” exfoliation, followed by “micro-current” therapy and a serum, concluding with LED light therapy.

The sell: Firms and lifts skin; boosts collagen production.

The damage: $450 Monday to Thursday, $465 Friday to Sunday.

Facial for Your Dog

The service: Blueberry Facial at Olde Towne Pet Resort. Rockville, Sterling, Springfield; 888-475-3580.

The details: Canine “facialist” applies South Bark Blueberry Facial, lets it sit, rinses it off.

The sell: Removes tear and beard stains from white and light-colored fur.

The damage: $10 add-on to spa-bath price (which depends on breed and weight).

Just Say You Have an Extra . . .

$99

For those too busy to spend their own money, Secretly Gifting—launched by social-scene fixtures Candace Ourisman and Ashley Bronczek—buys, wraps, and delivers a present. Ten a year cost $900. And no, fees don’t include the price of the gift.

$350

Washington workaholics who want to eat like Gwyneth but don’t have time to spiralize vegetables enroll in Sakara Life, a New York–based meal service that made DC one of its first outposts. Sakara supplies five days of fare such as pumpkin-seed pesto with gluten-free pasta and rose-infused “beauty water.”

$875

The downtown DC dermatology and plastic-surgery practice Sherber & Rad is the only place in the area to buy a 1.7-ounce jar of the purported instant wrinkle reducer 3Lab Super Cream. Those in the know who have appointments for fillers or lasers use the secret back entrance (via the loading dock)—good for pretending you just left a gym class, not a dermatology office. 1101 15th St., NW, Suite 100; 202-517-7299.

$3,250

It’s the way to kick back and relax for a vasectomy (or try, anyway): At Obsidian Men’s Health, surgery comes with a side of top-shelf Scotch or another liquor of choice, plus lunch—steak is an option—served on a leath­er couch in front of a flat-screen. The price, about $2,000 more than a standard procedure, also includes an Uber for those without a ride home. 8200 Greensboro Dr., Suite 200, McLean; 703-940-5815.

$3,500

Executives who can’t afford an unexpected health problem, like ever, check into the Greenbrier resort’s clinic for a two-day battery of diagnostic tests and evaluations—nutritional, physical, and emotional—and check out with comprehensive health and wellness plans. 320 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.; 800-362-7798.

$65,000

Patrick Shields is the one-percenter’s personal Michelangelo, recreating ancient rooms and works of art in clients’ homes. He can do a 14th-century fresco, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, whatever you want—an original mural could go for $65,000 or more.

Shopaholic’s BFF

Azita Shini—a personal stylist with Saks Fifth Avenue at Tysons Galleria for more than 34 years—shops, does closet audits, and packs suitcases full of resortwear for an exclusive club of 50 locals.

“I have clients who come twice a week—we get very involved with their charity events, so I will make sure their meetings with other ladies take place here. Then I have clients who only come once a month or three times a year. I have clients who spend over $100,000 a year, and they never even put a foot in this store—it’s all by sending pictures over text and e-mail. I’ve visited my favorite client, and we go into her treasure chest. It’s as if it’s another jewelry boutique I’ve created as part of her closet. We do a tremendous amount of jewelry sales, but I think ready-to-wear probably even more. Of course, each outfit I put together has its own handbags, there’s a wardrobe of sunglasses, there’s wardrobes of shoes. It’s not that just because you have one pair of Chanel sunglasses, you don’t need another. You need a wardrobe of sunglasses.”

A Continuum of Alabaster

Men’s white t-shirts at the upscale shopping Mecca CityCenterDC (they don’t come in a three-pack).

$40 at Allen Edmonds

$55 at Vince

$70 at Paul Stuart

$310 at Hermès

$435 at Loro Piana

Lowbrow, High-End

These are some seriously adult prices for stuff we ate as kids.

The $34 PB&J

Not your mama’s PB&J: At Community, it’s served on brioche and comes with Opus One grape jam and a half bottle of Cham­pagne. 7776 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-272-9050. Update: Community has closed since time of print.

The $26 Ham Sandwich

It’s just ham, butter, and baguette (albeit really good bread and butter), but at Mirabelle, it’s jambon beurre, because things always sound fancier in French. 900 16th St., NW; 202-506-3833.

The $20 Milkshake

Aptly named the Millionaire Malt, the adults-only item at Ted’s Bulletin contains Glenlivet 18-year single malt. Multiple area locations.

The $80 Potato Chips

At Kinship, these also happen to come with Sasanian osetra caviar and crème fraîche, but who’s counting? 1015 Seventh St., NW; 202-737-7700.

The $20 Gummy Bears

Sugarfina’s rosé-infused gummy bears basically broke the internet and generated a waiting list, so clearly they’re a must-have. Bethesda, 240-630-2332; Tysons, 703-844-0049.

The Splurge Matrix

Because . . . why not?

New and Collectible: Though the aesthetic is a bit like a craft-table explosion, hand-sewn-in-Washington Kochaii couture phone cases are one of a kind, so you’ll never show up to a party where someone’s wearing the same, um, phone case as you. $325 to $625.

New and Edible: At Blossom cocktail lounge in the MGM National Harbor, the Domarita drink, filled with Don Julio 1942 tequila, Grand Marnier Quintessence, lime, and a whole bottle of Dom Pérignon, serves four to six. $1,000.

Old and Collectible: Deep-pocketed history buffs with shelves to fill seek out Great Republic in CityCenterDC, home of old literature, American flags, posters, and other valuable knickknacks. $4,250 for a US Capitol–shaped humidor, $19,500 for a first edition of “The American Atlas.”

Old and Edible: The double-boiled “bird’s nest” dessert at Ginger in the MGM—bird spittle boiled down to a gelatinous substance and topped with red dates—is an ancient Chinese delicacy, known as the “caviar of the East.” $188, off-menu only.

Six Big Expenses for the Big Spender Who . . .

. . . Never Wants to Wait for a Table

Members of the $500-a-year Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants VIP Program get complimentary bubbly, an amuse-bouche, petit fours, a valet at lunch and brunch, and a 10-percent discount every time they dine at one of Trabocchi’s four (soon to be five) restaurants, plus reservations for parties of up to four with just 24 hours’ notice. Spend $5,000 a year and you get a complimentary tasting menu for two.

. . . Wants to Live Like a Trump for a Night

The Trump Townhouse at the Trump International Hotel is a monstrous 6,300-square-foot “room” that comes with a 24-7 chef, a full-time butler, and an on-call trainer who’ll work you out in the room’s private gym—all for $25,000. 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-695-1100.

. . . Has Never Drunk Wine from a box

Have more wine than cellar? New York’s Zachys will store your bottles in its new 20,000-square-foot facility in Northeast DC. Through its auction service, collectors can also get a hand in offloading (or buying) lust-worthy vintages. At the first DC live auction, some cases start at $15,000, and Zachys expects to rake in more than $5 million. 3521 V St., NE

. . . Wants Presidential Travel Security

You’ve got the private jet on standby, but what about a team of Liam Neesons ready to rescue you overseas? That’s where the new Jet Linx and Valor Agency partnership comes in. Jet Linx’s Dulles hangar houses eight jets, shared among members who pay hourly. A one-time $12,500 fee gets you elite perks, which now include Valor Agency’s medical and security services. Whether you contract a rare disease overseas or you’re detained by a foreign government, Valor will track you down, send help, and evacuate you if need be. 23800 Windsock Dr., Sterling; 703-570-6900.

. . . Can’t Even With the Nats’ Dugout Seats

Club 24 Championship Boxes, $95,000 and up annually, have a rotating, chef-prepared menu, free booze, in-seat service, and leather thrones—and they’re apparently not just an expense-account thing.

. . . Really, Really Wants a Good Seat at SoulCycle

SoulCycle’s $3,500 Super Soul class package consists of 50 classes, first pick of class sign-ups, and a concierge who’ll book sessions for you up to six weeks out.

$15,000 Buys the Up-Market Romance-Seeker So Much More than Tinder

Hookup apps and online dating sites have nothing on DC Matchmaking founder Michelle Jacoby, who basically dates your date.

“I spend a lot of time socializing and meeting potential matches, and I like to do it in a more personal setting like a restaurant, sort of to emulate the date. Then I write up a bio and send it to my client. Most matchmaking companies would just hand over a phone number, but we set up the entire date. I call both people the next day. I’ll be able to share with my client the way she or he was perceived on the date—the way you never really get when you’re dating on your own. I work with clients for a year. I match them up on average once a month, or more often if I can, until they meet someone they want to focus on. For a typical client, if it’s not outside of our realm and we don’t have to make exceptional effort to go find this special needle in a haystack, then the fees start around $15,000 and go up from there.”

This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Washingtonian.


Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.