by Allen J. Sheinman | October 19, 2017
As it celebrates its 50th anniversary and a recent $200 million revamp, the iconic Watergate Hotel has unveiled its new Scandal Room 214, designed to evoke the infamous break-in 45 years ago that toppled a presidency.
A collaboration between Emmy Award-winning Hollywood costume designer Lyn Paolo (of TV's Scandal and Shameless fame) and Rakel Cohen, co-owner of the Watergate and senior vice president of design and development, the suite has integrated all sorts of clever features into its DNA, including a wall of news clippings from the time of the break-in, several furniture pieces reminiscent of the 1970s, binoculars, a typewriter, a record player and a cassette-tape player (remember those?).
It was in room 214 that, on June 17, 1972, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy stationed themselves, and via radio directed the team that broke into the Democratic National Committee office in the adjacent Watergate Complex. A Watergate security guard named Frank Wills noticed suspicious activity, which prompted him to call the police and ultimately led to the discovery of the scandal.
The hotel had begun to commemorate its notorious history last year following its major renovation, adding touches like "no need to break in" inscriptions on its room keycards, in-room pencils engraved with "I Stole This From the Watergate Hotel," a phone number that alludes to the break-in date (1-844-617-1972) and, instead of hold music, speeches given by then President Richard M. Nixon.
The Watergate has 336 guest rooms and 27,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, including a brand new ballroom and 10,000 square feet of outdoor terraces overlooking the Potomac River. Scandal Room 214 can be booked beginning Oct. 20. Rates start at $800 per night -- perhaps not what some would consider a steal.