I Took A Mental Wellness Staycation. Here’s Why It Was The Break I Needed

According to a study, Americans don’t prioritize their self-care to take much needed time off from work — and you know that if you’re a Black woman, it’s even worse. Why? Because oftentimes (and sadly), we make time for any and everything besides ourselves. In fact, in 2016, 54 percent of all employees ended the year with unused vacation time. Collectively, that amounted to 662 million vacation days.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those people. Even when I do get away, this era of remote work has made every trip (even the tropical ones) a working vacation. After an overwhelming couple of months both personally and professionally, I knew it was time to unplug.

Although it’s one of the most sought after destinations in the world, many Washington D.C. natives (and transplants — including myself) haven’t even fully explored the depths of this city, and I decided it was time to change that. After all, I’ve been in the D.C. area for nearly 2 years and have yet to even see the MLK Monument, among other popular tourist attractions in my own backyard (and the sad part is I’d also lived here almost a decade ago as well).

I’ve also loved the Viceroy brand so when they set out to launch Hotel Zena, their second property in Washington, D.C., at the downtown nexus where Thompson Circle meets vibrant 14th Street, I knew I had to plan a visit soon. 

Unlike most hotels, this isn’t just any hotel with fancy mini bar snacks and a trendy apothecary. Instead, this is a bold new cultural hub celebrating female empowerment through provocative art, design and exciting and relevant programming. The 191-room hotel is an ode to feminine strength, celebrated by all genders, races and sexualities, and a haven for the liberated forward thinker. The lobby, for example, features women’s artwork and a large wall filled with buttons featured at The Women’s March in 2017. 

I didn’t have a set itinerary of things I wanted to do, but just planned to go with the flow, rest, read, brunch and luxuriate in some ‘me time.’

First things first, I knew I wanted it to feel like an actual getaway, and not just cramped in a small room like most hotel stays (I mean, if I was going to leave my house after all, it would have to be better quarters than what I already have). Once I got to the room, it was of course everything I’ve already grown to love about the hotel brand plus more. When I walked through the doors, the Gia suite instantly solved all of my problems. Not only was it huge, the city views were incredible and the vibe inside was just as striking. When I say big, I could have had a small party in there — but of course, that wasn’t the vibe for the weekend. Sitting comfortably in a beautiful hotel surrounded by wonderful local art, food, spirits and culture is exactly what the doctor ordered for me this week. 

It didn’t just end there. Only one word to describe the service at Hotel Zena: Impeccable. Anything I asked, they’d give. Any question I asked, they had an answer. Before I even got to my room, I was greeted by the staff who is always as kind as can be. The COVID-friendly check-in experience went super smooth.

Despite how much I loved the room, I did take some time to actually explore — because like I mentioned, there were lots of D.C. I still wanted to take in and see. If you take a walk down the surrounding Logan Circle blocks, you’ll see streets and buildings filled with local shops, restaurants, murals and more. 

During my stay, I mostly had our meals at the hotel: brunch at Figleaf Bar & Lounge, and drinks on the Rooftop at Hedy’s. The rooftop has both a pool and a fantastic view of Thomas Circle and beyond, and lots of people watching as this is clearly the place to be on a Friday evening. It’s important to note that the roof closes for the winter season, so if this is something you’ll want to experience, make sure you plan during the summer months!

All in all, it was a marvelous weekend that helped me recenter and refocus so I can show up as a better friend, sister, daughter and girlfriend. After all, that’s what a mental wellness getaway is all about. If you desperately need to get away but can’t for whatever reason, be it physical or mental health-related, consider treating yourself to a staycation. If done right, a staycation can be every bit as rejuvenating and reinvigorating as an actual vacation without the cost or hassle of dealing with travel. It was just the break I needed, and hopefully it will serve you right as well.

Planning your own visit to Hotel Zena? Rates start at $195. 

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