The woman behind the iconic Watergate Hotel takes us inside its dazzling restoration.
Rakel Cohen is breaking into the DC hotel scene with the newly rejuvenated Watergate. Stunning design touches include a light-filled library, a colossal dining room, and the original cascading staircase in the lobby.
Rakel Cohen, VP of design and development at Euro Capital Properties, new owner of the Watergate Hotel, is 32 years old and the mother of six children. Let those data points sink in as you contemplate her tremendous task in renovating the interiors of this once-foreclosed landmark, which turned 50 in March.
Cohen trained in finance, not design, but was confident in her great eye. “I’ve always been interested in beautiful, design-driven hotel properties,” she says. “I knew this could be the most incredible urban resort in DC.”
Cohen and design star Ron Arad worked a retro-glam inspiration. “We embraced the hotel’s architecture to bring its signature curves to the interior design,” she says. “We were so pleased to keep the original structure of the pool in our spa, Argentta. The mosaic-lined walls and high ceilings are magnificent.” She loves the pops of rich red in the Kingbird Restaurant and its chandeliers shaped like the Watergate logo, while the Next Whiskey Bar dazzles with its curving wall of 2,500 custom-made, individually illuminated whiskey bottles. Even the library’s collection of books related to the hotel’s history spotlights Cohen’s attention to detail—as do those mod staff uniforms by Mad Men costumer Jane Bryant. “Retro is in our roots,” Cohen says. “We want guests to feel transported to another time as soon as they walk through the doors.” 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, 844-617-1972