McLean Robbins

Correspondent

  • Washington, D.C., USA

McLean Robbins is a Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who lives in Washington, D.C. The freelance luxury lifestyle writer specializes in travel, hotels, spas, weddings and social media for national magazines and websites. Her work has appeared in publications including Robb Report, AOL, The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, DailyCandy and many more. She is also an experienced digital content and SEO strategist, working with businesses across the country to help develop engaging Web content. Robbins holds an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and a master’s degree from Georgetown University.

  • On March 26, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best spas in Washington D.C.?

    Washington, D.C. has increasingly become a destination for spa-lovers, but many of its "best" spas can be found inside the city's four- and five-star hotels. 

    Here are a few of our favorites: 

    The Spa at The Four Seasons
    This 11-room spa is one of the city's most coveted destinations for a luxurious day of pampering. In addition to luxe facial products by names like Carita and Kate Sommerville, the spa also offers an adjoining salon, George, where many of the city's most well-heeled go to get groomed. 

    The Spa at The Jefferson
    Intimate and customized, this two-room spa is primiarily for guest use, but we'd indulge here at any time. We'd suggest sampling a custom massage or facial with your own blends and add-ons, or trying a "vinotherapy" treatment inspired by Thomas Jefferson's love of wine.

    The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown
    Some of the city's best spas are quite small. This four-room oasis is no exception. We'd suggest the organic facials or the Earth, Wind, Water and Fire massages.

    Nectar Skin Bar, Georgetown
    Perfect for anyone looking for a great facial or mani/pedi, this small Georgetown spa specializes in skincare. We love custom facials with Melissa. 

    The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, DC
    Considered the city's most upscale spa, this pricey getaway feels like a true resort oasis, and boasts amenities like an amethyst steam room, large fitness facility, and an indoor pool. We'd suggest you sample the bamboo massage -- it's one of our favorites. 

    Bliss Spa at the W Hotel
    Using trendy Bliss products, this spa is smaller than many of its New York counterparts but offers equally effective treatments - plus the spa's signature brownie bar. 
  • On March 26, 2013
    McLean Robbins is now following the question:
  • On March 26, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Washington D.C.?

    Washington, D.C. has a number of dining experiences that will whet the whistle of even the most jaded palate, but a true Washingtonian will tell you that there's one experience that you just can't miss -- a visit to an Ethiopian restaurant. Washington, D.C. boasts the largest Ethiopian population on the East Coast, and eating this native cuisine is a must while on your next visit. 

    You'll also want to sample one of the city's more unusual dining experiences in the form of a gastronomic tasting menu. A reservation at Jose Andres' inventive Minibar or the multi-course Rogue 24 will tantalize the palate. 

    Of course, just about any cuisine, from fondue to French to Far Eastern, can be found in DC. We welcome you to try all that the city has to offer on your next visit. 
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    Where is the best shopping in Washington D.C.?

    In recent years, Washington has thrown off its dowdy reputation and become a fashion destination to rival many major U.S. cities, attracting famous retailers and trendy boutique owners alike to open brick-and-mortar and online shops with homes in the nation's capital. Here are a few of our favorite shopping areas: 

    Georgetown. The city's most famous shopping district, the Georgetown neighborhood offers many acclaimed retailers along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Stroll through boutiques like the area's first Rag & Bone and Cusp by Neiman Marcus, pop in and out of local jewelers or design shops, or stop for a cupcake at the famed Sprinkles or Georgetown Cupcake. 

    Friendship Heights. Walk the several block radius of Friendship Heights and find yourself along the East Coast's Rodeo Drive. Featuring stores like Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., and department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, shoppers will find the luxury goods just a few steps from the Metro. 

    Logan Circle. This ecclectic neighborhood not only boasts some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, but much of the best boutique shopping as well. Along the 14th Street Corridor and stretching upwards to the area's intersection with U Street, find home design shops, vintage retailers and high-end home and design shops alike. 

    Old Town. Located inside the Beltway and easily accessible via Metro, Old Town Alexandria's King Street offers a number of charming boutiques and national retailers alike. Peruse local jewelry, shoes, high-end vintage and home goods alike.  

    Tyson's Corner. A 15-minute drive from the District proper, Tyson's Corner boasts two large luxury shopping malls and many of the area's best retailers. From anchor stores like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue to retailers ranging from the expected (J.Crew, Anthropologie, Restoration Harware) to the ecclectic (the nation's first Spanx store, an American Girl Doll flagship, and the area's first C. Wonder), the mall is well worth the drive. 

    Don’t forget the market.
    Some of Washington, DC’s best souvenirs can come in the form of local and handmade goods. We’d suggest shopping at Union Market or Eastern Market for one-of-a-kind finds.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best bars in Washington D.C.?

    It's no secret: Washingtonians love to drink, and a slew of craft cocktail bars, brewpubs and wine-centric tapas bars and restaurants have made this easier than ever in recent years. While the idea of "best" is somewhat subjective, here are a few of DC's buzziest places to imbibe: 

    The Columbia Room
    Tuesday through Saturday, join a select few imbibers at this small back room bar for a "drink tasting," consisting of an opening drink, a seasonal creation paired with a small nibble and a third drink selected by you. Derek Brown is regarded as the city's cocktail master, and this is his ode to this cocktail. 

    PX 
    This Old Town bar isn't technically in the city proper, but it has long drawn fans of the craft cocktail movement. When the blue light is on, the bar is open. Make a reservation and enjoy drinks off the menu-- much of which riffs on classic cocktails with house-made ingredients-- or ask the bartenders to whip you up something special. 

    Churchkey
    Beer lovers will find a wide variety of brews to tickle their fancy at this Logan Circle dining destination. Offering a restaurant and a bar, this casual destination is often packed with locals and happy hour lovers on weekday afternoons.  

    Off the Record 
    Inside acclaimed hotel the Hay-Adams, this basement bar is decorated in cartoon political sketches and is often packed with political types enjoying martinis and gossip. An oldie but goodie, this bar is a Washington go-to. 

    St. Regis Washington, DC
    We’d highly suggest a visit to the newly remodeled bar at the St. Regis, a Forbes four-star hotel. The bar, located just outside the acclaimed Adour restaurant, features classic craft cocktails as well as a well-curated wine and spirits list.

  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best restaurants in Washington D.C.?

    In recent years, Washington has become a town for food lovers. Celebrity chefs and newcomers alike have flocked to the Nation's Capital to bring modern takes on classic cuisines as well as innovative takes on casual fare alike. As of January 2013, some of the city's best restaurants include: 

    Komi. Chef Johnny Monis may avoid the spotlight, but his food has generated enough acclaim on its own to make Komi one of the city's most talked about tables since its opening nearly five years ago. The tasting menu is pricey, but the restaurant fills its tables every night. Those looking for a less expensive option and who have a love for spice should try his Thai outpost, Little Serow. 

    Inn at Little Washington. If it's good enough for Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively... this Relais & Chateaux inn and restaurant has long been one of the area's most acclaimed dining destinations. An hour outside of the city proper, many combine the multi-course tasting menu with an overnight ... a must if you've sampled the wine pairings. 

    FiolaWashington's newest Italian hotspot has drawn nearly every celebrity guest to the city since its opening in 2012. Chef Fabio Trabocchi crafts modern takes on traditional Italian fare in this white tablecloth restaurant in Penn Quarter. 

    Palena.Tucked into a sleepy strip mall in Cleveland Park, one might not expect great things when looking at Palena from the outside. But diners return again and again for a to-die-for fry plate, a delectable burger and a roasted chicken so tender, you'll wish you could recreate it at home. 

    Rasika. Indian is big in DC, and it's no secret that Rasika is the city's most coveted table. Diners like Hilary Clinton flock to both the downtown location and the new West End outpost. 

    The best restaurants in Washington, D.C. are ever changing but we can’t help but love this recent list from The Washington Post of 40 dishes you should try. The annual list highlights some of our favorites, ranging from budget eats (macaroons at The Sweet Lobby) to high-end sides (Duck fat fries at Bourbon Steak; Brussels sprouts at Graffiato).  We’d suggest a full perusal of the list, here.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best attractions in Washington D.C.?

    Washington has many wonderful attractions, and the best part about them is that most are free and open to the public. Any visitor to Washington should begin with the museums and monuments on and around the National Mall. The Smithsonian museums are open daily to the public and house treasures from all over the world-- you can see Dorothy's Red Slippers, the First Ladies' Inauguration gowns, and egyptian mummies, all in under an hour. Walking between the many presidential monuments is also a great way to while away a morning or afternoon. 

    But visitors to Washington should also look beyond the expected. Some of the best attractions in Washington are off the beaten path. On weekend mornings, start with a trip to Eastern Market or Union Market for some of the city's best craft and local food vendors. Stroll the historic streets of Capitol Hill and marvel at the architecture. 

    There are also a number of less well-known museums worth a visit, including the Newseum (the museum of the news), the Spy Museum, the Kreeger Museum and the Renwick Gallery. Hillwood, formerly the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, is also a wonderful day trip. 

    A new attraction to enjoy come April 1 is the Nationals and Yards Park area. In addition to several baseball games per week, this vibrant area near the Southeast waterfront has become one of the city’s most buzzed about destinations for new restaurants and bars. Venture out for a pre-game beer or plan a Saturday morning brunch at new and soon-to-open brewpubs, waterfront Mexican venues and even a rustic Italian hotspot.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    When is the best time to visit Washington D.C.?

    Visitors to Washington, D.C. with some flexibility in their schedule should consider planning a visit in late spring and early fall to take advantage of the best temperatures for walking around and viewing outside attractions.

    While temperatures are often best in mid May through early June for spring visitors, travelers might consider coming in early April for the famous Cherry Blossoms that dot the waterfront and downtown. Visitors seeking prime outdoor weather could also choose an early fall visit, as temperatures from September through mid October are often quite pleasant, ranging from the low 80s by the early part of September to low/mid 60s by the end of October.

    Visitors should, however, avoid summer visits if they hope to spend time outside. July and August are very warm and humid months, with temperatures hovering in the high 90s most days.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What is the weather like right now in Washington D.C.?

    Washington, D.C. is a lucky city when it comes to weather – most of the time. More moderate than New York City or Philadelphia but less hot and humid than many southern capitals.

    The temperature is typically mild in May, September and even October, with highs in the mid to upper 70s. November through March can be cold, with temperatures anywhere from the mid 50s to high 30s. Late March through mid May is often in the 60s and 70s.

    The city does get some snow each year, but less so than its northern counterparts. Most snowfalls are no more than an inch or two.  Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures often in the low to high 90s.

    In March 2013, the weather is in the 50s and 60s, with a fair amount of clouds and rain, which should give way to warmer temperatures and sun in April, although April is often one of the city’s rainier months.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    Should visitors rent a car in Washington D.C.?

    Renting a car on a visit to Washington, D.C. is a personal choice, and it often depends on your unique itinerary. If your visit to the D.C. area keeps you in the city proper, it is often easiest to leave the car at home and use public transportation like Metro or cabs to get around. Parking is expensive at most hotels – between $30 and $40 per day – and on-street parking is both limited and highly restricted based on time of day.

    If your trip takes you outside the Beltway or beyond Washington, D.C. proper into Virginia and Maryland, a car might be a good idea. Getting to many popular day trip locations like Annapolis, Baltimore, Charlottesville and Tyson’s Corner require four wheels of your own.

    If you do need to rent a car while on a day trip, skip the standard rental agencies – we’d suggest ZipCar.
  • On March 18, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best business hotels in Washington D.C.?

    Washington, D.C.’s hotels are designed with the business traveler in mind. While many of the city’s best hotels cater to well-heeled vacationers and business travelers alike, nearly all of the Forbes Four-Star and Five-Star rated properties have dedicated amenities for the business guest. Several of our favorite properties for business travel include:

    The St. Regis (Four Stars)
    Ideal due to its convenient location near the lobbying firms of K Street, the Starwood-managed hotel offers numerous amenities that make business guests happy, including the acclaimed Adour restaurant from celebrity chef Alain Ducasse and the stylish yet historic lobby, perfect for a quick business meeting with clients. The two-block proximity to the White House also makes this an ideal hotel for visiting VIPs.

    The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. (Four Stars)
    One of two Ritz-Carltons in Washington, D.C. proper and one of four inside the Beltway, the Foggy Bottom/West End hotel is ideal for visiting dignitaries and embassy folk. Offering spacious rooms – most standard rooms are over 500 square feet – plus a Club Level, the hotel offers a wonderful partnership with the Sports Club\LA next door, ideal for travelers who want to stay fit while on the road.

    The Four Seasons, Washington, D.C. (Five Stars)
    The city’s only Five Star hotel is also one of the best for business travelers. A posh Georgetown location, high-touch service, newly-renovated meeting space and a trendy restaurant, BOURBON Steak, are some of the highlights.

    The Jefferson (Four Stars)
    Discreet and elegant, this 99-room Preferred Boutique hotel is a favorite of visiting dignitaries and those who require extra privacy. While the meeting space may be small, the rooms are spacious, with amenities like gratis WiFi and a number of private meeting “nooks” conducive to intimate tete a tetes.
  • On March 15, 2013
  • On March 12, 2013
    Shannan Finke is now following McLean Robbins
  • On February 27, 2013

    Hi Everyone! I'm writing in March for @startlemenow about the best places to enjoy Easter in DC and also about new foods in and around the Nationals ballpark. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear!

  • On February 27, 2013
    McLean Robbins answered the question: McLean Robbins

    What are the best places for brunch in Washington D.C.?

    Brunching is almost as much of a Washington pastime as talking about politics. Whether you crave boozy brunches or bagels that rival Manhattan's, you'll find something to tickle your tastebuds here in D.C.

    A few of the city's best locations for brunch include: 

    Beacon Bar and Grill: One of the city's finest buffet options includes all of your standard breakfast, lunch and dessert favorites, plus unlimited bloody mary's or mimosas for $30. 

    Tabard Inn: A longtime Washington, D.C. brunch staple, people shouldn't pass up on the restuarant's famous house-made doughnuts. 

    The Willard InterContinental: One of the best hotel brunches in the city, this lavish spread is a special occassion favorite. 

    Ted's Bulletin: From boozy milkshakes to traditioanl diner favorites and house-made pop tarts, this Barrack's Row hotspot is a local favorite. 

    El Centro D.F.: Bottomless brunches of Mexican tapas and hundreds of tequilas make this an all-day dining favorite.