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Shooting Your Video at the Willard InterContinental in DC

Posted by Andrea Keating on August 10, 2021

When searching for video shoot locations in DC, particularly for scenes with a sophisticated, elegant, stately, or spooky tone, one site not to overlook is the Willard InterContinental. Located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, neighbors with the White House, the Willard is nothing short of a DC legend, and for a myriad of reasons all of which make it a prime shooting location in DC for videographers. 

Shooting Your Video at the Willard InterContinental in DC

The Willard InterContinental has a mystique all its own, steeped in an odd mix of politics and lore. Videographers can capitalize on all this by using the Willard’s many resources to establish a setting both majestic and historic, earthly and otherworldly, lucid and dreamlike, for whatever their creative visions may be. 

The History of the Willard InterContinental

The current incarnation of DC’s Willard InterContinental is not its first. That would be the Willard Hotel, built in 1818 and shuttered in 1968 for likely demolition. During those intervening years, however, the hotel was one of the hottest hot spots in Washington for anyone who was anyone to meet, even earning it the nicknames, “The Little White House” and “The Residence of Presidents.” 

Before the shuttered Willard could meet its untimely fate, InterContinental Hotels swooped in to save it. After a massive restoration that returned the city landmark to its original glory, the once-Willard Hotel reopened as the now-Willard InterContinental. (“Cinema History: Saved, Lost and Threatened Movie Locations in Washington, D.C.”; National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Ghosts at the Willard InterContinental

The Willard also boasts a richly haunted history of elite ghostly presences. 

President Ulysses S. Grant is perhaps the most renowned spirit to supposedly haunt the hotel. So much time did he spend during his lifetime smoking Cuban cigars while taking informal meetings with supporters and, what he coined from Willard’s own lobby, “lobbyists” that workers today occasionally report smelling cigar smoke, usually late at night, in certain parts of the hotel. 

Also rumored to haunt the hotel is President Franklin Pierce’s wife, First Lady Jane Pierce. Just before moving with their 11-year-old son to DC for the inauguration, the boy was fatally hit by a train in Baltimore. The First Lady spent much of her mourning period in front of the Willard and allegedly died there from depression just a few years later, though in truth she died in Andover, MA a decade following the accident. Nonetheless, accounts of her ghostly spirit wandering the Willard’s halls still abound.

(“Something strange in your neighborhood: D.C. has plenty of haunted hotspots”; The GW Hatchet)

Movies Filmed at the Willard InterContinental

Famous films shot, at least in part, at the Willard InterContinental include:

  • The American President
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier
  • Minority Report

Why the Willard InterContinental Makes a Great Video Shoot Location

Whether you’re shooting a film, a TV episode, a music video, or a commercial, the Willard InterContinental offers videographers a bounty of backdrops to help bring shots, scenes, and sequences from a variety of genres to life, from high-society romance to political intrigue.

Prime Shooting Locations at the Willard InterContinental

Gardens, indoor and out, elaborate suites with fabulous vistas of familiar Washington DC sights, a magnificent lobby, hallways and elevators, a multitude of event venues and meeting rooms, with ornate rugs on the floors and spectacular chandeliers overhead, even a fitness center and multimedia studio: every detail of this one-of-a-kind, all-in-one location adds depth and character from every angle. 

These are just some of the unique shooting sites you’ll find only at the Willard InterContinental.

Peacock Alley

Peacock Alley is the site of the famed Afternoon Tea at the Willard InterContinental, which the Travel Channel named among the top 10 places to enjoy “Afternoon Tea like a royal”. Amid the grandeur of the columnar setting are fine tables and linens, elegant serving ware, and stately yet modest decor where you can shoot stylishly dressed elite interacting with steaming tea mugs, bubbling champagne flutes, mouth-watering sandwiches, and pastries bursting with color. 

Grand Ballroom

There’s perhaps no place better to set a grandiose wedding than in The Willard InterContinental’s Grand Ballroom, featuring crystal chandeliers, beveled mirrors, and a stunningly gorgeous mural amid tones of soft green, pale blue, and buttercup yellow. 

The Willard Atrium and Courtyard

This versatile shooting site incorporates two locations in one. There’s a glass-enclosed indoor atrium offering moderate privacy and natural light set in the space between the Willard InterContinental Hotel and the Willard Office Building. Then there’s the lush, terraced courtyard outdoors, a seasonal oasis for providing a more natural contrast to the majesty of the indoor settings. 

Cafe Du Parc

Part French brasseries, part high-end coffee shop, this spot accommodates any shot involving food and drink, from quick and casual to extended and formal. It even includes an outdoor terrace with plenty of seating. 

Round Robin Bar

With a look and feel that hearkens straight back to its establishment in 1847, this historic meeting place for DC’s social and political elites earned Conde Nast Traveler’s accolades as the “Oval Office of Bars.” Fit for Presidents and Kings, the site is well-known for its oak-paneled walls and circular bar. 

Guest Rooms

For shots set in intimate quarters, choose from three types of guest rooms conveying three different tiers of luxury and refinement. 

  • Classic Rooms – These rooms feature a marble walk-in shower and tub amid a background of cool gray, ivory, and navy tones punctuated by gold and modestly sophisticated furnishings. They can also connect to other guest rooms.
  • Premium Rooms – Similar to classic rooms in their look and feel, these rooms offer just a bit more space, including enough for the oversized desk in each one. Some of these rooms feature iconic DC landmark views, like the Washington Monument and Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Suites – Each named to honor a US President or other accomplished individual, a variety of suites offer videographers a variety of accommodations that combine the utmost in regal elegance with a dignified sense of history. There are also stylish Oval Suites and more modest One Bedroom Suites and Junior Suites.

Recap: Shooting Video at The Willard InterContinental in DC

For a video shoot location in DC that offers camera crews everything they could want to convey a sense of opulence, refinement, and history in one place, look no further than the Willard InterContinental.

If you are looking to put together a team of experienced videographers to shoot video in DC, let’s connect. We can have you have a team ready to show you the perfect locations for your DC video project ideas.

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