The Mayflower Hotel Tour: DC's Spies, Secrets & Scandals History

  • Instant Confirmation
  • Private Tour
  • 2.5 hr

Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the Mayflower Hotel from the 1920s and the role it played in the most powerful capital in the world on this bespoke private tour.

Itinerary Details

Operated by: Travel Curious

Let us bring to life the unique role of the Mayflower Hotel in the capital's history with this crafted experience together with your own expert local guide. Hear tales of the ways the world's most powerful capital drips with scandals and is embroiled in the underbelly of global clandestine efforts, and enjoy a complimentary cocktail in the Edgar Bar! 

On your private tour you will:

  • Start your walking tour in the Mayflower Hotel where 6 decades of presidential inaugural balls took place;
  • Hear how the hotel has been in the headlines in its nearly century history - from World War II spies through Jeff Sessions and the Russians (We promise no "fake news" on this tour!);
  • Take a turn down the dark alleys of double agents and KGB agents in the nation's capital;
  • Hear tales of duels, slavery, secret messaging, and ghosts at the Decatur House;
  • Find yourself in the midst of two, two-timers - a story that ends in murder - at the Sickle Home;
  • Dive into the life and reign of J Edgar Hoover over a cocktail at Edgar Bar.
Your tour begins with the headlines which had made the Mayflower Hotel one of the most famous places in the city since its opening in the 1920s when the press announced the hotel had “more gold leaf in its adornments than any other building in Washington after the Library of Congress.” Wander the storied halls and hear tales of the names who have splashed the pages of the media from news made at the hotel—from Roosevelt’s penning “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” in one of its rooms to the place where Nixon gave his farewell speech before resigning office. 

Other rooms in the hotel have their own claims to fame: one was where Monica Lewinsky’s testimony was recorded, another where Governor Spitzer’s infamous affair took place, and a third where a Nazi defector turned himself over. Aldrich Ames—a man whose CIA career was a bit murkier—met his Russian handlers at the hotel, Stewart Nozette attempted to sell the Mossad secrets from its quiet hallways, and only meters away is the spot where J Edgar Hoover dined daily. 

A block from the Mayflower Hotel, walk by the Pullman House, which has been owned by Russia for more than a century, serving first as its embassy and now its ambassador residence. Hear tales of decades of clandestine stories and salacious secrets of double agents, all tied to this address. 

In Farragut Square, learn how Admiral Farragut’s grandson saved Thomas Jefferson from being hanged. In Lafayette Square, within yards of the White House, discover the clever spy craft of a Confederate agent who bedevilled Abraham Lincoln, and seduced his vice president, before meeting a horrific end. The stories in this square and the area around it abound with scandals of murder and misdeed, and your expert guide will let you in on several of their favourite tales.

As you wander back to the Mayflower, you will hear more tales of Washington’s secrets and current scandals. Then, enjoy a cocktail with your guide at Edgar Bar while you learn about Hoover’s life and how the fearsome FBI head became synonymous with the hotel. 

Tour duration
2.5 hours 30 minutes

Type of tour
Walking tour: no transportation is included

Tickets included
- English Speaking Guide
- A delicious cocktail at Edgar Bar at the end of your tour.
- 1 soda or juice for children

Other inclusions
- Gratuities optional
- Hotel meet-up and drop-off 
- Additional food and drink are not included

Suitable for
Couples, Family, History Buffs, Intellectually Curious

Attractions along this route:

Lafayette Square
Given its proximity to the White House, the square is notable for innumerable scandals, most famously for Confederate spy “Rebel Rose.”

The Mayflower Hotel
Described by President Truman as "Washington's second best address", the hotel boasts nearly a century's worth of glittery and clandestine history.

Edgar Bar and Restaurant
Located inside the Mayflower Hotel, EDGAR pays homage to its most famous patron - J Edgar Hoover - who dined daily at the hotel for over 20 years.

Pullman House
Once the Soviet Embassy, the Pullman House has been the Russian ambassador's embassy for several years and was one of the places Julius and Ethel Rosenberg met with their handler.

Farragut Square
Civil War Admiral Farragut was famed for for seizing a key Confederate seaport and declared of the mines blocking his fleet’s advance: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
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