D.C.'s Watergate celebrates a scandalous history in style
First things first: The infamous D.C. break-in didn't happen at the hotel. Richard Nixon's bumbling burglars were caught in the office portion of the Watergate complex, huddled beneath a secretary's desk in the 6th floor headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
The hotel is right next door, overlooking the Potomac River and connected to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. And it did play a part in what's been called the American presidency's darkest moment. Address books found in room 214 linked the burglars to ex-FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy and former White House consultant E. Howard Hunt, the botched burglary's planners. Two of the burglars were registered in connecting rooms 312 and 314, and in a fictional twist, movie hero Forrest Gump watched the arrests from room 506.
The complex was new, only five years old, when the break-in occurred. Today, The Watergate boasts elegance and convenience, but isn't afraid to remember its checkered past, and even embrace it.
The hotel is offering "Break-In" packages -- including copies of Woodward and Bernstein's "All the President's Men," a magnifying glass and a cassette of '70s music -- to mark the 25th anniversary of the June 17, 1972 break-in (and the hotel's own 30th birthday). Three different packages start at $165 per night and they're available until May 31, 1998.
Talk about perks -- The Watergate offers complimentary limo service to downtown D.C. from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. But don't expect to walk away with a Watergate ashtray -- the hotel has stopped using the infamous name on its amenities.
The Watergate got its name, by the way, because of its proximity to a gate that diverts water from the tidal Potomac River into the Tidal Basin at flood tide.
While The Watergate has the name recognition, it's not the only hotel in the neighborhood with a history -- across the street at the Howard Johnson Hotel, room 723 was the listening post for the wiretaps placed in the DNC's Watergate offices.
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