Late Checkout

Experience a Little Slice of Home in America's Transient Capital

This is the hotel the pandemic built-in the best way possible.

Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel
Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel
Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel

When Yours Truly, a Bohemian-chic independent boutique hotel in the heart of Washington DC’s Dupont Circle neighbourhood, debuted in May 2020, the response was muted. And that’s putting it nicely. Between grounded international travel, the transition to a work-from-home economy, and the immense uncertainty the rapidly developing COVID-19 pandemic provoked, opening a brand new hotel in a city that depends on tourism and business trips was a monumentally risky venture.

“It was tough,” admits general manager Tauseen Malik. “It was really tough. But what we saw was-once some of the restrictions were loosened-the local community really coming in and using the space, embracing us and our partners.”

Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel
Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel
Photo courtesy of Yours Truly DC Hotel

That embrace, as it turned out, was mutual. Large floor-to-ceiling windows swing open onto New Hampshire Avenue, easing the anxieties associated with indoor dining and inviting passersby to drop in and hang out awhile, lounging on the low-slung couches strewn throughout the space. Work-from-home became work-from-hotel, as Yours Truly invited area residents to set up shop with their laptops inside the expansive, laid-back lobby-or “living room,” according to Malik. Cult-favorite “Jewish-ish” deli Call Your Mother began hawking bagels and coffee out of the far corner, only adding to the homey atmosphere.

Groom Guy
Groom Guy
Groom Guy

Others found their way to that lobby, too: most notably Darius “Sunny D” Davie, a professional barber who found himself in search of a place to conduct his growing business after the pandemic shuttered so many DC salons. Davie, also known as Groom Guy, also found respite at Yours Truly, moving his operation into a converted pantry near the check-in desk and transforming the 275-foot room into a veritable self-care sanctuary.

“We heard of this amazing barber who needed a chair, and we just thought it was the perfect opportunity,” says Malik. “People love it-it’s worked out wonderfully for everybody.”

@yourstrulyhotel
@yourstrulyhotel
@yourstrulyhotel

Stocked with high-end, primarily Black-owned products and decorated with eye-catching art from prominent Black artists, the shop fits right in with the hotel’s sleek, lively aesthetic. And much like its surroundings, Groom Guy welcomes all, whether you’re stopping by for a quick fade or gearing up for your wedding.

Yours Truly DC
Yours Truly DC
Yours Truly DC

Across the hall from Groom Guy sits El Donut Shoppe, which, contrary to its name, has nothing to do with fried pastries. The Orlando-born concept offers yet another unique amenity by way of a tightly curated array of vinyl records, available both for purchase or on loan to spin upstairs on your very own turntable. The eclectic mix of jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, and more provide the ideal soundtrack to your stay-especially when paired with a little something from Mercy Me, the hotel’s buzzy in-house restaurant and bar.

Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me
Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me
Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me

Described as “sorta South American”-Malik resists putting the cuisine in too tight of a box, instead preferring to let the team do its thing without constrictions-Mercy Me’s forward-thinking menu traipses through Latin America and the Caribbean, melding flavours as fluidly as its lobby home transitions from daytime hangout to evening hotspot. Menu standouts include bright, citrus-spiked salads, roasted chicken dressed in a rich house-made mole, and a killer vegetarian Tostada loaded with roasted eggplant, smoked mushrooms, jicama, and green mango slaw. “I’m not even vegetarian,” jokes executive chef Samuel Diaz. “But I can’t get enough of it.”

Beverage program director Micah Wilder takes a similar approach to his side of things, pitting classics like Espresso Martinis, Gin and Tonics, and draft Negronis with funkier options like a Mule dosed with Caribbean Scotch Bonnet peppers and an unstoppable frozen Miami Vice.

Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me
Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me
Photo by Mariah Miranda, courtesy of Mercy Me

These days, Yours Truly is far from muted. Saunter over to the centrally located square bar on any given night and you’ll catch a cross section of the nation’s capital. Businessmen with their elegant shirt cuffs rolled to the elbow chat with the staff while indulging in an Old Fashioned. A family, road-weary after finishing their drive up from Texas, settle in with a few Sofrito Burgers as the family dog naps at their feet. A group of 20-something girls in neon crop tops pose for photos next to the lush greenery, clutching frozen Kick Ass Coladas. A couple of local bartenders, fresh off the day shift, talk shop over Clarified Tropical Milk Punches, while a Travel Editor-AKA yours truly-perches at the bar and considers ordering a third South Paw Manhattan. Because when the vibes are this sweet, you can’t help but want to stay awhile.

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Meredith Heil¬†is the Editorial Director of Travel at Thrillist. She lives in Chicago and enjoys all things cocktails, crosswords, and women’s soccer. Send good vibes to¬†@mereditto.

Late Checkout

Sleep Inside a Restored Train Carriage on a Black Sand Beach In New Zealand

Experience the romance of the train travel era.

hapuku carriages


There’s a term for someone with a strong affinity for anything related to trains and rail travel‚ÄĒ ‘Ferroequinology’. It’s not the easiest word to roll off the tongue, so instead, they like to go by ‘railfans.’ There is a long list of reasons why some people are obsessed with trains, but nostalgia seems to be the driving force for seeking vestiges of train rides past. For some, it’s the charm of an opulent interior and polished wood walls on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express ushering them back into the heyday of luxury steam strains. For others, it’s the chance to watch the world go by on a scenic rail journey. Either way, you can’t deny even today, there is still magic in train travel. Preserving that magic is a new wave of train carriage accommodations, providing railfans and anyone curious about what it’s like to sleep in a train carriage from a bygone era the chance to do so.

One particularly unique ‘train b&b’ is Hapuku Carriages, in the small coastal town of KaikŇćura. Planted opposite a black sand beach on one side and colossal snowy mountains on the other is a restored carriage built in 1921. It was previously used as a guard’s van, then shearers quarters for workers.¬†In 2007 it was removed from the farm and is now sitting on Mike and Susie-Lee’s little slice of paradise.

Mike is a collector of quirky and unusual things, and Susie-Lee is a painter, often seen wielding pastels and charcoals in her studio in the evenings. Together, they restored and decorated the carriage, instilling the romance of the train travel era with art and cosy rugs. There’s even an outdoor bathtub for guests to enjoy a long soak while admiring the KaikŇćura mountains.

hapuku carriages


While the train carriage is unique and a major draw for railfans, the Pohutukawa Cottage next door should not be overlooked. It’s renovated using as many recycled materials as Mike, and Susie-Lee could get their hands on, including special touches from The Art Deco Mayfair theatre in KaikŇćura and materials from The Adelphi Hotel built in 1918. The kitchen is custom-made from recycled cross arms off power polls and other native timbers. In the open-plan living and dining room, pops of colour from vintage leather chairs and seats scream retro and rustic charm. Although, the modern conveniences make it a comfortable place to base yourself, with the main town in KaikŇćura an easy seven-minute drive away. The cottage also has an outdoor tub and a deck, perfect for relaxing with a cheese board and wine, watching the sun dip behind the mountains.

Upon arrival, Susie-Lee welcomes guests with a glass jar of homemade granola, a stocked fridge for all your breakfast needs, and a friendly smile. There might also be wine in the fridge and a cheeky chocolate or two on the table. You feel right at home from the moment you’re handed the keys. After you’ve settled in, wander down the driveway to the beach, which is a two-minute walk from the carriage and cottage. The seemingly never-ending black sand beach is deserted most days. Enjoy the spectacular views of turquoise blue waters stretching over deep, dark black sand, leading to a backdrop of dramatic snow-tipped mountains. It’s beyond wondrous and one of the only places on the South Island where you can see the mountains meet the sea.

Venture into town to sample local delicacies. We also suggest stopping at Bernie’s Diner for a quirky experience. There’s a Cadillac museum in the basement. KaikŇćura is known for its marine encounters, including large pods of dolphins, sperm whales, and countless native fur seals. They’re everywhere, basking on rocks and beaches.

Book your stay here.

MORE: Feast Your Eyes on Christchurch, The South Island’s Gateway to Adventure, Wine, and Art

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