You may have noticed a mysterious black building lined with lush potted plants sitting at the corner of 12th and K. It’s hard to miss and surely out of place among the more conservative, gray and brick buildings.
Through the doors, an air of swank greets you. Dark, rich colors, golden accents — art deco kissed with contemporary flair. It’s D.C.’s newest hotel and hot spot.
Eaton Hotel and House is the project of Katherine Lo and a brand extension of Hong Kong-based Langham Hospitality Group, which is owned by Great Eagle Holdings. Charged with creating a luxury concept that spoke to a more youthful audience, Lo envisioned a brand that challenged its guests to question social norms and connect beyond their realm of comfort.
“We are trying to transcend the commercialism, and bring it towards a soulful complex, deep dialogue, beauty and aesthetics about what matters. I think that’s exciting to the artists, the process pushed their limits, the works really ask questions about the human condition and oppression, but they live in a space where people are living, hanging out and working.”
Luxurious, simplistic and balanced, the hotel boasts: 209 rooms, a holistic wellness center, rooftop lounge/live music venue (Wild Days), meeting rooms, radio station, coffee shop (Kintsugi), speakeasy (Allegory), restaurant (American Son), movie theater, newsstand and co-working space (Eaton House). Sustainability and intentionality can be felt throughout the compound; the newsstand sells local periodicals from around the country while the Kintsugi cafe proudly brews Red Rooster Coffee, known for its hardcore culture of sustainability. Eaton has also partnered with Oyin Handmade, a Baltimore based brand, to source hair care products for African American guests, a first within the industry.
When it comes to art and the creative experience, the same level of thought was applied. Throughout the hotel, visitors will see art that requires more than surface level contemplation. Rotating exhibitions dance between loss and reclamation of identity while the commissioned works celebrate images of strong female forms like the 14×40 mosaic by Zoë Charlton that covers the back wall of Wild Days or the mural that re-imagines Alice in Wonderland through the lens of Ruby Bridges by Erik Thor-Sandberg.
Much of Lo’s vision has been achieved through the creation of a specialized team. Beyond the typical staff found at a hotel, Eaton also has a director of Culture, Impact and Activism, Wellness, House (co-working space) and Media. There’s a reason Eaton feels top notch, Lo attracted stars across the industries of radio, film, journalism and art, uniting them around her cause. One of which is artist Sheldon Scott, the director of Culture.
In this role, Scott is responsible for the visual arts, programming, musical performances and partnerships. He describes Eaton as a “new type of platform that will add another element to the city’s artistic landscape.”
Working as an artist in D.C. for over nine years, Scott brings a unique perspective to the position through his dynamic practice that spans visual, performance and literary arts.
“In terms of having a creative population, D.C. has always had that,” he said. “A lot has gone unrecognized, largely because we didn’t have the infrastructure to support the variety of artists in the city. And with these new organizations, we have the opportunity to see these artists grow and access their potential within the city.”
The building itself is one of the greatest resources Eaton has to offer, creating a platform through rotating exhibitions, radio station programming, spaces for collaboration and a live rooftop venue. Artist can also take advantage of the residency program that grants a stay up to thirty days, includes a $500 stipend and access to the wellness center for spiritual rejuvenation.
Eaton Hotel is poised to become a force on D.C.’s arts and culture scene. Yet, a question of accessibility lingers. Progressive or not, Eaton Hotel is a luxury brand. While its price points are on par with surrounding hotels and boutique businesses, these price points, coupled with perception as it relates to spaces and belonging, may be barriers for some of the very people the hotel seeks to serve and elevate. It will be interesting to see how this is reconciled via programming or other outreach initiatives as Eaton further cements itself on the scene.