The Mansion at O St by Hipchickindc

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Do you ever walk around Dupont Circle and wonder what is behind the ornate Victorian facades of the mansions that were built for DC’s rich and famous back in the day? I know I’m always curious about both the interiors and the history of these architectural wonders. While so many of them have been cut into trendy condos and apartments, The Mansion at O Street presents a unique adventure and a particularly Washingtonian experience.

I had no idea that this treasure even existed until a friend took me for a belated birthday outing to O-dinner-tini (yes, really) on Monday night. This event apparently takes place every Monday night from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. I was completely swept away upon crossing the threshold.

Walking into The Mansion at O Street involves being greeted by several staff members who showed us to the coat room and our table and the bar. The interior is festooned with a ridiculous number of huge ornate crystal chandeliers, and rich Victorian architectural details such as carved woodwork and a decorative ceiling. Serving as a gallery, as well as a hotel, the rooms are covered from floor to ceiling with artwork and such curiosities as guitars signed by rock stars.

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As intense as the décor is, the food is quite spectacular as well. The front parlor is home to an extensive display of extreme desserts. The dinner buffet has a room of its own, with cuisine ranging from elegant comfort foods including beef stew and garlic mashed potatoes, to a wide range of vegetarian choices such as pastas and soups. Most fun, however, is the peanut butter station, which included white bread, marshmallow fluff, honey, and of course, jelly. (I’d say The Mansion would be a fun kid outing for older elementary school age and up.) During the meal, we were well attended by the plentiful white-gloved staff. Continues after the jump.

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After dinner, we were encouraged to explore the one hundred room mansion, which is actually five interconnected townhomes. The Mansion’s web site describes it as having thirty two secret doors. (Further intriguing is the detailed description as to the lengths The Mansion staff will go to protect visitors’ privacy.) Guest rooms range in style from 1980’s-era translation of Art Deco, to all out Victoriana, to a wild top floor Log Cabin duplex penthouse suite. Seriously, it’s worth the trip just to see the Log Cabin.

For more about the history and events that take place at The Mansion at O Street, visit The Mansion is located at 2020 O Street NW, just a couple blocks west of the Dupont Circle Metro.

14 Comment

  • so you have to be a member or know a member to visit there? their website is pretty busy…

  • Looks like its 40.00 a person for that dinner thing and you can submit your reservation online

  • i got married there and slept in the log cabin room on my wedding night. it is very kitchy and over the top, so not for everyone, but ever other wedding sure seems like a bore after ours. it is a must see.

  • Went for brunch not too long ago. It was fun, but the food was only okay. Probably not good enough to justify the price. For another ten bucks or so, you can have brunch at the Willard Room and have truly exquisite food and unlimited champagne in a stunning atmosphere.

  • We recently had our team retreat there. Definitely made the long meetings more interesting as our discussions were stopped with pauses to examine a cherub in the wall with a cigarette sticking out of its mouth, or the random autographed playing card glued to the ceiling. The place takes tacky to a new level, but the food was in fact really damn good. Especially the mac-n-cheese — mouth watering.

  • I’ve been there a couple times to see concerts, which is pretty cool. Usually it’s acoustic folk, or some old-school quasi-washed-up minor legend from the 60’s or 70’s performing, which is really a blast when you’re seeing the show with about 40 people. I am not sure if the music series is a regular thing or not – there’s only one show listed in the upcoming events calendar – but it’s a great, intimate space and a unique experience.

  • this place is incredibly tacky but just as incredibly surreal and absolutely worth at least a visit. standoffish service and just ok food but exploring the stuck-in-1982 decor in the 100 room mansion with all the bizarro hidden doors and passages is about as much fun as you can have sober with your pants on.

  • I thought the $40. price was pretty good considering that it included real drinks (full bar with knowledgeable bartender), dinner, and dessert, plus the entertainment of just walking around.

    I don’t think I could stay there overnight because I wouldn’t like staying with all the stuff.

    christopher, you have to make a reservation, but you do not have to be a member of the private club.

  • thanks hipchick 🙂

  • I think it is pretty cool – have also been for concerts. I love the fact that it is completely open and you are free to wander around. If a room isn’t rented they leave it open and you can view it. And the secret passages and doors to weird halwys are really fun.

    You can get a membership and use their pool in the summer. One note about the “private club” – it makes the neighbors really mad because it means that it does not need to follow the rules that govern hotels, restaurants and bars. For instance, hotels are required to have parking (not here), bars and restaurants have a smoking ban (not here) and are required to shut down at a certain time (nope). The Mansion has taken over some prime residential real estate and as a result of being a private club does not follow the commercial rules.

  • There’s an annual Habitat for Humanity tour and auction — most enjoyable as a way to get in and explore the place. It’s around $35 for tickets. I didn’t realize they had concerts, Jamie!

  • I actually used to be part of the staff at the Mansion. Although I no longer work there, I enjoy taking advantage of happy hours, holiday brunch/lunch/dinner or just sale times. I took my mother and grandmother there for Mother’s day and both enjoyed the time they spent in the house.

    Over the top it might be, but that is part of the allure of the place. A hidden gem for sure.

  • isnt there a bar downstairs?

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