Mansion on O Street: the weirdest boutique hotel in DC

Beloved reader(s), meet Mansion on O Street. Located off of Dupont Circle, “the Mansion” looks deceptively ordinary from the street. It is a string of three townhouses painted traditional brick red. Two stone lions grace the entry way. You have probably passed it at one time or another and thought nothing of it.

Until you actually go inside….

Nothing creepy about a doll with pedophile glasses on

The interior of the mansion is cavernous and twisting, filled with secret doors, bizarrely themed rooms, and mounds upon mounds of…stuff. Like weird stuff. Piles of old dolls, books, Christmas decorations, Beatles slot machines and fancy church hats. One bedroom looks like a child’s log cabin, another looks like Imperial England, while still another has a giant orb crystal behind the bed’s headboard. It’s like Rocky Horror Picture Show mated with your grandma’s attic.

A rabbit in his Sunday best, a butterfly-man, and a bookshelf-door.

Oh, the bookshelves are also doors. The weird people who frequent the hotel will smile and tell you to go through these bookshelf doors despite them being really dark. Like  “SPY gets killed: the musical” dark.  Of the 32 hidden doors in the mansion, I found…one. Fine, I’m not Sherlock Holmes.

How do you experience the hotel? Well, there are four ways. If you enjoy being haunted you could shell out the $300+/night to actually stay there (pass).  You could go to dinner or  tea in one of the grand rooms, which looks like Alice and Wonderland. Although followed by a treasure hunt (upside), it is pretty pricey and has gotten mixed reviews (downside). You could go to Monday martini night and explore with a cocktail, which is appealing although it will be dark.

OR, you could pay $5 and just walk around. The rooms are open for viewing when guests aren’t there. Some empty rooms even had classical music playing. Not creepy AT ALL. So spend  $5 to take in the Mansion’s oddities.  Since all the tchochkies are for sale, you can even take home a souvenir.

Mansion on O Street
2020 O St NW
Washington, DC 20036-5912
(202) 496-2020
(and yes, the website is just weird stock images)

Guest Post: Fabulous Home Design Finds on U Street

Hey guys, it’s Heather from Falls Design. Working for a design firm, I am inspired by great design all day, but what I’m most passionate about is home design. When I’m not blogging or reading trade pubs, I’m coercing one of my girlfriends to check out a new design store, or bribing my husband to drive around and look at houses. After living in Washington for years, I finally took the plunge and bought a house in Falls Church where I can exert all of my pent up design energy. On Falls Design, I document my adventure filling my first home with great design, as well as DIY projects and anything I find inspiring.

Today, my sister and I decided to focus on U Street…. Continue reading

The perfect last minute gift spot and the fate of Go Mama Go!

We have all been there. You are late for an event, hair askew, one shoe on, when it suddenly occurs to you that you have no gift. DAMMIT. Sure if it’s a cocktail party, no problem. Bottle of wine. Done. But for other parties or err, weddings, you need a gift and a card and you need it fast. In these situations, I turn to the ROW. The row consists of Pulp, Cork Market, Home Rule, and Go Mama Go! on 14th street. They are all next door to one another that exact order. Here is what you do…

Home Rule, Cork Market (via readysetdc), Go Mama Go (via thingsandstuff) Continue reading

A peek inside the most expensive house on the DC market

According to the  Georgetown Dish, 3400-3410 Prospect St NW, the “Halcyon House,” is the most expensive house on the DC market. It is in Georgetown (no surprise). It is listed on Sotheby’s for $19.5 million (Jesus God that’s expensive but, no surprise). I passed it every day in undergrad at Georgetown (no supr… wait WHAT?). It’s true Hoyas. The front of the property looks like this:

SPY's winter home

Recognize it? Yes, the most expensive house in DC is at 34th and Prospect, across the street from what was the crap-tastic Philly Cheesesteak Factory. The mansion is actually a bit “clown car” in my opinion. Sure, the front of the house is large, but would you assume it’s a 22,173 sqft lot with a twelve car garage, 9 bathrooms, a solarium, a swimming pool with a wet bar, a servants house, and things like THIS:   


Backyard (overlooking the Potomac), art studio, pool, plaque 

Me neither. The second photo is the art studio, which is perfect for all that after-work sculpting I do. Actually, I recall walking by the house in college, thinking “nope, too colonial,” and heading over to Booeymongers for a sandwich snack.  Anyways, the house was apparently built in 1787 by the first US Secretary of the Navy under George Washington. That was also the last time they seemed to have updated the decor:   


YIKES. Very Mary Todd. Not what you want. Look Sothebys, just go out, find a certain SPY, give her a grant, and get some STYLE in there. I will decorate like 6 rooms (because the entire house is far too much effort) in exchange for money to throw a fancy indoor-outdoor party in your “art studio” and backyard. Because, let’s be honest, we all know an artist is not going to buy this house. Everybody wins!

*Thanks to Sotheby’s for the photos! You can find them (and more) here.   

Exploring Room & Board, the most fancy of IKEAs

So awhile back I blogged about 14th Street’s vintage furniture stores. I also blogged about rckndy, a very cool décor store at U and 15th streets. SO now, to solidify14th street’s status as the mecca of DC furniture, I am blogging about their contemporary furniture stores, starting with the newest addition: Room and Board.

A 4-story furniture warehouse at 14th and T streets, Room and Board’s layout is basically IKEA. Namely, tons and tons of different model rooms with furniture displayed, including a beautiful outdoor patio on the top floor to display the outdoor furniture options. The building itself was actually built in 1919 and used as a Ford Model T showroom.  Some pics of their style:


Nice no? Very good staples. However, unlike IKEA, this furniture is not built for the transient. There are different upholstery options, it’s not assemble-yourself, and the nice leather chairs are closer to $800 than $200. So as poor SPY in a nice store, I basically spent my time trying out every chair and sofa, in a sort of mental ‘form v. function’ cost-benefit analysis.

My conclusion? An early-1960s Mad Men inspired living room is simultaneously the most awesome looking and the most uncomfortable, while nothing beats a hideous old-man leather recliner for comfort. You’re welcome.

Uncomfortable but so bewitchingly stylish!

 Anyways, after like 45 minutes, I found myself simultaneously coveting a new DC townhouse to decorate (so many color palette options!) and Swedish meatballs. NO, don’t hate on the meatballs. They are delicious and you probably haven’t tried them so have no right to judge.

With Swedish lingonberry snacks!

God, now I am hungry. Crappy breakfast yogurt time. Happy Monday!

Room and Board, 1840 14th St. NW, DC, 20009, 202-729-8300, website (with more pics!)

Coveting Rckndy Wall Art and a DC Artist Showcase

So today’s post will be short, I’ll admit it. I have family in town, so my bleary eyed self will be giving a DC tour in 20 minutes. So with that in mind: Rckndy (pronounced “rock candy”) is this hip little furniture store on U Street. It tends towards modern, sort of an Ikea color palette but much nicer, and stocks a bit of everything from beautiful pillows, to a DC subway map shower curtain, to a coffee table bowl made from melted down army men toys. However, above all else, I COVET their wall art. Specifically, their maps. Here:

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A lovely 14th Street vintage furniture roundup

GoodWood via

Morning DC friends. So, for some reason traveling abroad always leaves me coveting vintage furniture. It’s just something about the worn wood, mix of local and colonial influences, the allure of the impulse buy that leaves me needing that 1800s Indonesian ottoman. Is it really antique? Don’t know. Don’t care really. I just imagine a Dutch explorer sitting on it in some ungodly hot tropical place, exporting local culture while importing Christianity and smallpox, and think how perfectly it would look beside all the little books in my studio.

So yes, with antiques on my mind, I present the U Street antique store roundup. As I mentioned in my Ruff and Ready post, U Street is a vintage furniture haven where you can purchase affordable things that are not Mary Todd Lincoln colonial style or Louis XIV imperial style or a zillion dollars. The stores are also within walking distance of one another. There are 3 main stores (photos after the jump!):

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I went to Ruff & Ready and all I got was this ottoman and this rash

First, let me say that I love Ruff & Ready. I have a TV stand, lamp, pictures and other things from there. However, Ruff & Ready is not for everyone, and I have been abandoned there many times by friends who can’t handle its charm. Well, I think it’s charm.

Ruff and Ready is a hipster’s dream. It is only open on the weekends. It is technically antique but has the stacked inventory of a thrift store. All prices end in the number 7 and the owner doesn’t know why, its just tradition. It’s not super cheap, but they will bargain with you. It is one of those perfect places that locals have known about for ages and new residents need to know about immediately. Some pictures:

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