For a hotel best known for the scandal that once took place at its site, you’d think the Watergate might shy away from drama. Not so. In its announcement that it will reopen this summer after a $125 million renovation, the long-shuttered Watergate Hotel plays up its “scandalous past.” And in a “topping-off” ceremony today, the hotel leaned heavily on its affiliation with one of America’s most popular dramas, unveiling staff uniforms designed by Janie Bryant, the Emmy-winning costume designer for the AMC show Mad Men.
The attire will create “a truly retro-inspired ambience,” Bryant said as a Spanish-guitar player in a hard hat played a passionate cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” It’ll match “the retro mystique that lies behind every curve of the hotel.”
The space, on Virginia Avenue NW by the Potomac River, has a ways to go if it’s to meet the summer deadline. The topping-off ceremony didn’t mark the completion of construction, or anything close to it; it simply represented the presentation of a new ballroom. The hotel, originally opened in 1965 and purchased in 2010 for $45 million by Euro Capital Partners after the previous owner failed to convert it to condos during the recession, is slated to be truly extravagant, with 340 rooms starting at $400 a night. That’s hard to envision in the building’s current state.
But at least the costume designs are ready. Here’s a preview of the staff who will be serving the high-paying guests:
In the context of the incomplete construction site, the designs look a tad more out of place:
Eventually, the guest rooms are supposed to look like this:
And the lobby like this:
But for now, the hotel remains very much a work in progress:
Photos by Aaron Wiener; renderings courtesy of DKC Public Relations