Things to Do

Which DC Hot Tub Is Right for You?

We tried a bunch out and got harassed only once.

The hot tub at Hook Hall. Photograph by Evy Mages .

One frigid day in December–whipping winds, a crust of frost—I felt the urgent need to sit in a hot tub, to soothe my stiff muscles and fortify myself against the cold. But where to go? In search of the perfect soak, I sampled four local options.


The Public Tub

I’m told the free (for DC residents) tub at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center in Northeast is normally steaming—but it wasn’t when I went. The staff were refilling it when I arrived, and I waited a few hours for it to heat. Finally, I was told it was—well, if not hot, at least habitable. “They can’t call this a hot tub. This is a lukewarm tub,” one older gentleman complained, before mildly sexually harassing me for half an hour while we soaked. But the jets were strong and I liked watching the children’s swim lesson in the adjacent pool. It would have been great if it weren’t tepid.


The Boat Tub

DC’s new “hot tub boat” is the party bus of the Potomac: a vessel whose whole deck is, essentially, two giant water-jet baths, each of which holds up to ten people. I tried it out on a chilly evening, motoring from the Wharf to Georgetown and back while sipping a beer in one of its hot and frothy tubs. It was as relaxing as it was picturesque, with the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, and the runways at Reagan National visible as we floated past. I loved it. But depending on how much privacy you want, it’ll run you between $359 and $2,899.


The Bar Tub

At Hook Hall on Georgia Avenue, a portion of the outdoor beer garden has recently been transformed into a winter cabana with a tabletop fireplace, fake pine trees, a couch, and a small inflatable hot tub. For $300, you and seven friends can spend two hours bathing and lounging and consuming drinks and snacks (one pitcher of a house cocktail is included) while the staff pop in and out to take orders and discourage canoodling. When I tried it, the tub started out toasty but lost heat as the evening progressed, eventually becoming too chilly to use. Nonetheless, I wore a soft robe and ate a huge pretzel and had fun chatting with my friends.


The Luxury Tub

The tub at the Four Seasons—open to hotel guests, fitness-club members, and people who buy a spa pass—is subterranean and soothing, with natural light wafting from above. Soft jazz filled the room, and the water was perfect: the kind of heat where your body releases, where you find yourself hopping in and out to calibrate your temperature. Afterward, I walked two miles in the cold and felt snug the whole way home.

This article appears in the February 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer