This New Washington, D.C., Hotel Celebrates Female Empowerment Through Art

The newly-opened space takes girl power to new heights

Hotel Zena Figleaf bar Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Courtesy of Hotel Zena  

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A hotel just opened in Washington, D.C., that’s not just a chic place to rest your head, but also makes a major statement. Hotel Zena, located on 14th St., is a design dream that celebrates groundbreaking, inspiring women. The opening is timed with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted White women the right to vote. 

Even without stepping foot in the hotel, it’s clear this a feminist-focused space. The exterior of the building features two female warriors standing guard. The art was designed by D.C. artist Cita Sadeli (also known as MISS CHELOVE), who documented the project, which she started in March at the height of the pandemic, on her Instagram. Her vision was “to create an atmosphere of intrigue composed of a pair of fierce yet curious warrior-sentinel women protecting the sanctity of the space,” according to a release

The interior of the hotel, conceptualized by Dawson Design Associates, is just as breathtaking. Artists from across the globe created more than 60 pieces of original art for Zena.

“We wanted to make it a powerful statement, said Andrea Sheehan of DDA. "Given its strategic location and our society's current state, it just made sense to us to take a public stand central to its creation.”

Other art pieces in Hotel Zena include a mural of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The design was made from 20,000 hand-painted tampons donated by Cora, a brand that donates pads and provides health education to girls around the world. RBG’s portrait includes her statement collar and the word “Notorious,” a nod to her nickname.

The lobby’s Portrait Gallery also honors 10 other women, including Shirley Anita Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. (Just a few years later, in 1972, she sought the Democratic nomination for president.) Chisholm actually has two pieces of art dedicated to her: in addition to a portrait, there’s a hanging installation of painted chairs, a reference to her quote, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Hotel Zena
Courtesy of Hotel Zena

Zena is the second Viceroy hotel to open in D.C. this year. Bill Walshe, the company's CEO, says it was created primarily by women, but is still intended for all people to enjoy. "It is a hotel that offers a haven for all genders, races, and sexualities; where an atmosphere of strength and femininity live in harmony.”

Surrounded by the art is the lobby bar and lounge, Figleaf, which is open for a late lunch or dinner and drinks. The menu highlights locally-sourced ingredients and shared plates. Continuing the girl power theme, the drink menu has cocktails like Empowerment (a blend of rum, lime, and grenadine) and the HBIC, made with bourbon and hibiscus tea). A rooftop pool, complete with a six-foot-tall statue of Venus, is slated to open in spring 2021. 

The 191-room hotel is currently offering an opening special with 10 percent off plus a few additional perks.

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This New Washington, D.C., Hotel Celebrates Female Empowerment Through Art