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Travel: A Stroll Away

Georgetown offers a simple getaway with charm and taste.

On our visit, we opted to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. The AAA Five-Diamond hotel is undergoing a $25 million restoration that will enlarge many of its guest rooms, making them some of the largest in Washington. In recent years, it had expanded by adding a fitness club and spa.

We found the hotel intimate and comfortable. Tired from traveling, we relaxed with a glass of wine in the Garden Terrace lounge, a sunny respite. As we walked around the lobby, we noticed the hotel's extraordinary collection of art that can be found in every corner of the property. We were told there were more than 2,500 pieces from the personal collection of the hotel's owner, William Louis-Dreyfus, representing more than 30 artists from the 18th-21st centuries. Even our plush, oversized room was filled with paintings from the collection.

What drives my love affair with the Four Seasons chain is its superb customer service (I adore being greeted by name) and attention to detail (slippers placed neatly by the bed at night). There's a sense of home, a warm hospitality that envelops you, the moment you walk in.

We quickly learned that Georgetown is a walkable town. We strolled down M Street and wandered in and out of several antique stores. The neighborhood is filled with antique and home décor stores, offering everything from jewelry and decorative items to fine furniture. I was particularly fond of the glamorous fashion jewelry and contemporary decorative arts in the Keith Lipert Gallery, 2922 M St., NW, and the art deco items — a pewter cocktail shaker in the shape of a milk jug from the 1930s was my favorite — at Cherub Antiques Gallery, 2918 M St., NW. Another interesting stop: Vera L. Mann's tiny antique shop, 2914 M St., NW. Vera mentioned that she specializes in selling antiques to the entertainment industry as I checked out her collection of gilded chandeliers.

By the time we reached J. Paul's, it was time for lunch. Housed in a circa 1889 building, the restaurant's focal point is its 110-year-old bar, made of solid mahogany. Overhead hang large silver-plated chandeliers brought in from Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh. After a tasty crab cake sandwich and a bowl of crab bisque, we headed to Dean & Deluca, where we had spied blueberry crumb cake earlier. The indulgence was sinful but worth every bite.

Feeling a tad guilty, we attempted to walk off the calories in Georgetown Park, a charming indoor mall that stretches for blocks. In the evening, we walked to N Street for a cozy dinner at Neyla. The charming Mediterranean grill offers both al fresco — al fresco is extremely popular in Georgetown — and inside dining. We chose the latter based on the coolness of the evening air. Later we noticed that outside guests were warmed by appropriately placed heat lamps, a detail we'd overlooked.

Inside, the décor was Middle Eastern — ribbons of sheared tentlike fabric were loosely stretched along the ceiling, giving the appearance of a large tent. We started our meal with a traditional Lebanese dish, falafel (chickpea and fava bean croquette), and followed with chicken shish taouk, tender chunks of chicken breast marinated in garlic and lemon, and a veal chop.

The next morning we began our feeding frenzy — admittedly food is a passion — at breakfast in the hotel's popular Seasons restaurant with a crisp Belgian waffle topped with fresh fruit. We ended the day eating jumbo lump crab cakes and grilled filet of beef at 1789, a stately restaurant in a Federal-period house tucked away in the residential section of Georgetown. The restaurant's six dining rooms brim with antiques and collections of Limoges china.

While checking out the next morning, we overheard mention of a food festival in the fall. We're sure it's calling our name.


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