07/22/2013 05:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Destination Washington DC-The Jefferson

Destination Washington D.C. - The Jefferson by Illeana Hoffman and Steven Lapidus

After the recent visit to Vermont, the next leg of our college search for the "perfect" school for our daughter began on the New York city street of 34th street between 11th and 12th avenue.
We were engulfed in 100 degree weather waiting delayed by a one-hour mechanical glitch on a Metro bus delivering us to Union Station only to discover the metro closed, not a fun experience. Sometimes good things have a less than sterling beginning!

Our luck changed, abruptly, with arrival at Washington's landmark Jefferson Hotel; not only fun but downright luxurious! Originally built in 1923 as an apartment building this Beaux Arts gem was converted to 96 stylishly elegant rooms now part of "Preferred" boutique hostelry. Upon arrival, our daughter took quick advantage of the sunken claw footed tub, watching television as she soaked (television screens are hidden within bathroom mirrors and heated panels above the tub to allow users to adjust the room temperature). The 24-hour room service saved us from our bus-induced hunger, which we topped off with the artfully displayed custom chocolates found on the desk.

On arrival, our daughter asked, "Seen Obama lately?" The concierge casually answered, "Oh, yes he dines here regularly." The Jefferson, dubbed "Whitehouse North," has throughout its history housed Presidents, Cabinet Officers, dignitaries and other connected Washington types. The hotel even got a prominent mention on HBO's popular political series Newsroom while our daughter soaked in the tub and munched on her chocolates.

The next morning, we took a quick tour, touching on the numerous highlights of this special place. Should we mention the lit-up glass bar, the only one in North America, or the library (stocked with more than 800 leather-bound volumes on Jefferson) or the cozy club corner area where guests are invited to take coffee and tea while reading the latest from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post?

Both European and distinctly Washingtonian in style, the hotel is rich in historical details and Jeffersonian influences. Eclectic antiques, period artifacts, documents signed by Jefferson and vintage books of all kinds with the highlight being eight original wall-adorned signed documents. The concierge voluntarily mentioned he had worked in many elite accommodations, but waited especially to work at the Jefferson because he could provide personalized service. He also asked, "Why don't you participate in the hotel program "Where's Tommy?" No it isn't a race and not a contest, but a chance for all guests especially those between 12 and 18 years old to follow a customized map of downtown Washington, highlighting locations and connections to Jefferson, like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building as well as the White House itself, 8 suggested locations in all. This self-guided tour allows guests to take advantage of free Capital Bike share bike rentals... just like our home turf of NYC, but there we pay! When you arrive at each location, you document your presence by taking a picture of WHERE'S TOMMY? With your smart phone, you then upload the photo to Instagram with the handle@TheJeffersondDC and hashtag #WheresTommyDC. Every person that completes all destinations returns to Strawberry-Aloe flavored Popsicles along with a Thomas Jefferson bobble-head. This caused our daughter to remark, "...I haven't gotten one of these since Bobble-head day at the Yankee ballpark."

Between our adventures sight-seeing, doing interviews at American and George Washington University and experiencing the elegance and fun of the Jefferson, we arrived exhausted back to where we began, Union Station, ready to board the bus for the long trip home. But yes, we got ours at the Jefferson and hopefully our daughter will get hers when we all find the right college. Next stop Ohio, Oberlin to be precise! Oh that journey is tiring to think about, but like with the Jefferson, good things often come at the end of long journeys!