This is Concierge Confidential, a series in which we learn about a city’s best-kept secrets from people who specialize the exactly that: long-serving concierges from the best hotels in town.
Jeffrey Morgan — the veteran D.C. hotel concierge who began his career at the Four Seasons Washington, DC and now is the man who never says “No” at the Conrad Hotel Washington, DC — has a vast knowledge of the best things to see and do in the nation’s capital. He’s up on all the “uncharted territory and big challenges” that exist in the city as a result of the massive changes the pandemic has brought to every aspect of the D.C. scene.
InsideHook: What’s an underutilized part of your hotel?
Jeffrey Morgan: We offer something that you cannot get with Hilton points: It’s called the Sakura Lounge, and it’s on our top floor, and you have to buy into it. It comes with an ambassador service. And with that service guests get breakfast and lunch, or breakfast and dinner, included. We do whiskey tastings and other special things. Depending on the night, we have various different types of cuisines like Italian, Mexican, American, Japanese — so it’s unlike any other hotel and it’s a concept that we started at this Conrad. And the views are amazing, too.
Where can I get a cup of coffee near the hotel and go for a good walk?
For coffee, there is Tatte Bakery and Café. And you can always go for a great walk, just grab a cup of coffee and walk down 7th Street to the National Mall, which is just so iconic. I mean, the Washington Monument!
Where do singles hang out?
People are hanging out at the waterfront, the Washington Harbour and all the new places there. And also at the Navy Yard, which is another area of the city that is also on the water, so we’re very fortunate to have some great bars and great areas and restaurants that are very hip and trendy.
How about a restaurant where only locals go?
Tony and Joe’s is on the waterfront at Washington Harbour. And that’s been there for years and some people think of it as a tourist trap. But I love it because it’s just great, you can always get a seat, and you’re sitting right on the water.
Late-night spot where I can get into a bit of trouble (but not too much trouble)?
There is this great place called Sax Restaurant. And it’s a lounge, which has a very soft cabaret, burlesque-type thing and it’s really quite nice. It’s very luxe. It’s got red velvet booths and fine dining and is lots of fun.
Best cheap eats in town?
You can always go to the Mall and find some great food trucks there. There are some great trucks on 14th Street, as well as in Georgetown. And you can always go to George’s in Georgetown, great Lebanese Middle Eastern food.
Where can I go for the best dessert?
I love Kafe Leopold’s in Georgetown.
Best place for a sunset cocktail?
The rooftop of the Conrad is the place — it’s called Summit, and it is wonderful!
Where should I go in the area for a day spent outside?
Walk through Rock Creek Park or take a stroll down on the Mall. Go to the arboretum, or walk along the wharf. Go to the C and O Canal. There’s just so many places you can go to just spend a day outside; that’s the beauty of D.C.
Where’s a good spot to snap an Instagram-worthy photo?
At the icons first of all, at all the monuments.
Best neighborhood to take a four-hour stroll if I want to get acquainted with a more “authentic” side of the city?
I love Georgetown University itself, with the beautiful buildings and the architecture. It’s really wonderful, and then the homes nearby are just so beautiful as well.
What’s the easiest way to get around town, in terms of transportation?
I would say the Metro, a taxi or Uber, or your feet — it’s easy to get around in the city.
What’s a lesser-known cultural institution worth visiting?
Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens; it’s gorgeous. It’s tucked in just before you get down to Rock Creek. And it’s a gorgeous estate, and has amazing art artifacts that Marjorie Hillwood collected when her husband was the ambassador to Russia. Russian Faberge eggs, things like that. Just really amazing.
What’s a cool architectural site that’s not mobbed with tourists?
I love the National Cathedral.
What’s the best thing you can only get in your city?
One is the mumbo sauce, which is what goes on chicken wings, fries and other things here; you’ll find it everywhere. And go-go music, which started here in D.C. I think those are probably the two things that are iconic D.C.
What’s something I can say or do to endear myself to locals?
What’s something that tourists tend to do that really annoys locals?
The tourists really annoy the locals when they’re standing on the wrong side of the escalator in the Metro. Stay to the right, people; if you are just standing there, people climb up on the left side!
What’s an item or activity that tourists tend to get ripped off on? Any tips on how to avoid that?
Georgetown Cupcakes. They are okay, but there is always a long line to buy them. You have to wait for them. And I think Baked & Wired in Georgetown does a better cupcake altogether — and you don’t have to wait. It has such an amazing cupcake! It’s just a great place to grab an amazing cupcake.
I’m looking for a low-key brunch. Where to?
Primrose in Northeast. They’ve got great food.
Best place to eat a meal or have a beer outside when the weather’s better?
The Salt Line is located in town on the Navy Yard. It is has a great lobster roll. And great beers. And there’s a local brewery right next door.
Any potential issues I should be worried about or pay attention to when it comes to public transportation (busy times, delays, petty crime, etc.)?
I say to all my guests, “Always be aware of your surroundings. Just keep your eyes open.”
Finally, what’s the best book to read about the area before I come?
I would say The Da Vinci Code. We even have tour guides that do a Da Vinci Code tour!
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