For anyone who thinks the nation’s capital is a cookie-cutter ode to blank government facades, you haven’t seen The LINE DC. This hip, brand-new hotel, opened in December 2017, occupies a former neoclassical church in the never-stop Adams Morgan neighborhood. That’s right, a church. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, to be exact.
“We wanted to pay respect to the past but take it into the future,” says Kathryn Bangs, the hotel’s creative director. “The church was a place for ritual, a place for sanctuary, a gathering for community. That’s what we’re trying to be today.”
And that’s exactly the vibe you feel. The lobby—better described as a community gathering hub—is a reverent, high-ceilinged, multipurpose space where locals once worshipped. Except in lieu of pews you have plush, royal-blue furniture, long, library-like tables for working and studying, a guichet-style reception desk occupying the former altar site, and a podcast recording studio and live Internet station that gives a voice to local hosts and shows (listen on the TV in your room, or anywhere in the world at fullserviceradio.org).
And that’s not all. The hotel’s food scene embraces the hyper-local concept as well. In the free-flowing public space you’ll find the all-day Brothers and Sisters eatery by DC’s Erik Bruner-Yang, which captures the neighborhood’s multiethnic flair. Upstairs in the stained-glass-illuminated balcony, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Spike Gjerde’s A Rake’s Progress serves up Chesapeake-inspired cuisine, much of it cooked open an open-hearth fire. Spoken English, Bruner-Yang’s interpretation of a Japanese-style tachinomiya, is slated to open in April 2018. There’s also a lobby coffee bar featuring local coffees, teas and pastries.
The 220 fresh and bright guest rooms and suites, located down a brick passageway in a brand-new building, induce relaxation with light hardwood floors, area rugs, and a splash of primary colors. Local touches effervesce here, too, including one-of-a-kind art pieces by local women artists, a micro-library on each room’s desk curated from Adams Morgan’s Idle Time Books; plants from the nearby Little Leaf plant store; and individually sourced side tables.
And lest you forget this was once a church, ecclesiastic touches interweave throughout the property, including painted pews for scattered public seating, church organ pipes fashioned into a chandelier, hymnal boards used for room directories on each floor, and beautifully reproduced herringbone wood flooring.
Dating from 1912, the church lay abandoned for 25 years before the Sydell Group bought it five years ago. The company oversees several brands including the LINE, devoted to embracing the local flavor of a hotel’s surrounding neighborhood. “The true measure of success is whether we can serve the locals,” says Bangs.
Given the number of locals you’ll find studying, meeting, sipping coffee and hanging out in the lobby, not to mention, the number of locals employed here (85% are from DC, 55% from the neighborhood itself), they’re clearly succeeding.