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Mug Shots: POV Is Fun, but Only on Weeknights

A friend put it best when she referred to Point of View, the rooftop bar at the newly opened W Hotel, as a “weeknight spot.— On weeknights, the bar is a lovely place to be. One can enter the hotel and be whisked to the roof in a matter of moments. There is virtually no wait, the room is relatively quiet, and the servers are attentive.

[IMGCAP(1)]Then there is the weekend experience, during which Point of View is less of a dream and more of a nightmare. On weekends, POV becomes the most pretentious bar in Washington.

Simply entering the W Hotel (515 15th St. NW) on a Friday or Saturday night is taxing. A velvet rope and a group of men with clipboards surround every entrance. On a recent visit, it took 10 minutes just to get the attention of one of the gatekeepers and inform him of our group’s reservation.

But don’t get too excited after you’re allowed into the lobby. You must check in with another set of clipboards before being permitted to queue up for the elevator. Another line waits at the roof, where every party must check in with a hostess. On a weekend, the wait for a table — despite reservations — can easily take 10 minutes. In the end, it can take 20 minutes from the time you arrive at the hotel until you are actually seated at POV.

The rooftop bar is L-shaped and features an outdoor area with views of the White House and an indoor area that overlooks the Washington Monument. The outdoor bar will be open year-round thanks to fans and space heaters. The indoor bar is extremely loud and features furniture that is reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. The chairs are oversized with extremely tall backs, and the bar is lit by candlelight.

While a dark bar makes it difficult to read the menu, it also allows the Washington Monument to glow through the western window. POV has breathtaking views of the city, including the Lincoln Memorial and even the White House — where you can bet security personnel with guns are sitting on the roof keeping tabs on who’s coming and going at the hotel. Despite that feeling of being watched, the perch high above the city makes for gorgeous sunsets and spectacular nighttime views.

Make no mistake, though: While the views are gorgeous, a trip to POV will break the bank. Cocktails are $15, wines by the glass start at $9 and beers don’t go for much less than $8. The cocktails are certainly tasty and are created by master mixologist Sasha Petraske of New York’s Milk and Honey, but what you’re really paying for is the view.

Though expensive, the cocktails are tasty. The Mixed Berry Caipiroska — made with vodka, limes, berries and sugar — is the perfect girl drink. It’s pink, plus it’s wonderfully sweet and doesn’t taste of booze at all. The drink also features chunks of tasty fruit floating in it. A combination of rye, ginger, lime and soda, the Presbyterian has a nice kick. The Vera’s Swizzle is also a highlight. Made with bourbon, lemon, mint and sugar, the drink is smooth with hints of booze, rather than an overpowering flavor. And you can’t go wrong with the mint julep served in a traditional silver cup.

In the end, Point of View feels like it’s trying too hard. The velvet ropes, clipboards and pretention belong in New York or Los Angeles, not Washington, D.C. One of this city’s biggest draws has always been the no-fuss attitude toward going out. Local bars welcome clients in suits, party dresses or torn jeans who are looking for a place to kick back and down a drink or two.

The W’s rooftop bar seems to have missed this crucial fact about Washington and is trying to create an exclusive hot spot for the “in crowd— — their words, not mine — but after all is said and done, the hassle and cost of a night at POV is simply too much to bear.