I’d wanted to return to the Mansion on O Street practically since the last time we visited a few years ago. The Dupont Circle destination is easily one of the neatest places in DC — a museum, inn, event space, and secondhand shop all in one. Four stories high and five row houses wide, there are 100 rooms, many of them open to explore.
A guest room filled floor to ceiling with art, books, accessories, and tchotchkes
And that’s just what you want to do the second you step inside. The mansion is filled literally floor to ceiling with the most eclectic collection of, well, just about everything collectible. There are autographed guitars donated by legendary musicians, iconic clothing like Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady and one worn by June Carter Cash when she performed with Johnny, lots of Beatles memorabilia, sets of fine china and not-so-fine dinnerware, tons of fancy silver animal head ice buckets, shelves and shelves of books, all kinds of art, toys and games… I could go on, but in a nutshell, name something random, and there’s a good chance it’s there. And the kicker: Nearly all of it is for sale!
Signed and donated by Willie Nelson and other greats
So, Sasha and I finally made it back there with some friends earlier this week, and it was a perfect activity on a really hot day. We all had a blast checking out the wild mix of items and trying to locate secret doors (!!!). Yes, there are apparently 70 of them, but we only found six during this tour. However, we chatted with Ted Spero, husband of H.H. Leonards, who owns the Mansion, and he told us their two children, who actually grew up there, never even found all of the doors.
A secret door leads to a hidden room
Even though I’ve written about the Mansion before, it’s such a wonderful, interesting place, I thought I’d share some more images of the fantastic spaces and amazing melange of items there. For more details, including logistics for visiting, see this post. For now, here’s a glimpse.
Like a rhino in a china shop?
Guess who’s concert tour set this came from?
Xylophone, matchbook collection, and a Peewee Herman doll… of course!
Shelves of cocktail glasses around the tub – nice touch!
June Carter Cash wore this dress!
Next time I’m buying one
Ted Spero, husband of owner HH Leonards, shows us a display of books that mention the Mansion on O
Imagine… John Lennon creepily watching you in the bathroom
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.
A beautiful chandelier is one of the first of many spectacular sights
A wall of photos in a downstairs room
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.
Beatles memorabilia abounds
A small sample of the many, many, many books for sale
Need a new party outfit?
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.)
Exploring the two-level Log Cabin suite
Game of chess and hot tub, anyone?
John Lennon can join you in the loo!
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.
Too many cooks in the kitchen? Nah.
So much to see in the Billiards Room
Selfie with my girl in a picture and mirror-filled hall
The Mansion offers a variety of tours for visitors, from self-guided tours to a Secret Door Treasure Hunt, ranging in cost from $25 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.
I can just picture her high school years
Hanging in the diner
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. (Update: LivingSocial is no longer.)
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.