A few weeks ago, a particular LivingSocial deal caught my eye. The offer for a Champagne Tour of The Mansion on O Street sparked some memories of a great party I attended there years ago, and I recalled what a unique, quirky, outrageous, amazing place I’d thought it was then. Plus, champagne.
So, I scooped up a couple of those deals, thinking the tour would make for a fun date sometime. But then I thought about it again and decided it would also make for a fun outing with the kids (minus the champagne…for them, anyway). Thus, I went to The Mansion on O Street website and booked two self-guided tours for them, too, for later that day.
The Mansion on O Street is one of the neatest places you could tour, shop, dine in, party at, even stay overnight in DC — it’s a mansion, museum, restaurant, vintage store, and hotel all in one. What makes it extraordinary, though, is the decor. Its 100 rooms are filled, literally, from floor to ceiling with all kinds interesting items, from fine china to funky collectibles. Tableware, art, books, musical instruments, clothing, games, furniture, a jukebox, memorabilia, and tons of other random pieces are among the stuff you’ll see. Even better, all of it has been donated and all of it is for sale, so if you see something you really like, it can be yours for the keeping.
Every piece is used to help create wonderfully over-the-top themed rooms. These rooms and suites are quarters for overnight guests, but they are also open to tour when no one is staying in them (or the guest doesn’t mind having visitors). Lennon, Log Cabin, Graceland, Amnesia, Safari, Art Deco, Beatles, Caribbean, Arcade are just some of the spaces available. (A quick glance at the price list, and you won’t be surprised to learn that many famous people, mostly creative types, have stayed there.)
Then there’s what you don’t see, at least not right away. There are many secret doors throughout the mansion that guests are encouraged to seek out, a mission especially thrilling for kids, of course, and fun for adults, too. Before you start a self-guided tour, mansion staff explain how it all works, so you have an idea of what to look for and where you can/cannot go. Beyond that, though, they don’t tell you much, and you are left to explore on your own. To me, this added to the excitement of the experience as we wandered around the house, “sneaking” through hidden walkways, discovering ridiculously fabulous scenes (a glass chess set in the bathroom? of course!), getting turned around and wondering if we’d already seen some places.
The Mansion offers a variety of tours for visitors, from self-guided tours to a Secret Door Treasure Hunt, ranging in cost from $10 to $500. The experiences don’t stop with tours; they also have special programs, including an O Kids’ Play Date (at $52, I’d save for a special occasion) and music and art gatherings. The space is also available for parties and special events. And you can dine there as well, with both lunch and dinner seatings at set prices.
For an everyday outing, I recommend the self-guided tour. The cheapest option is plenty fun, and you can use those saved few bucks towards an O Mansion souvenir — you’ve certainly got your pick of them! If you’re up for a little bubbly, take advantage of LivingSocial’s Champagne Tour deal. (2017 Update: LivingSocial is no longer, but you can get the Champagne Tour deal through Groupon.)
The Mansion on O Street is located at 2016 O Street NW in Dupont Circle. It’s open daily 11am – 4pm (unless specified otherwise). Tours should be booked in advance online.