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Decatur House

The second-largest mansion in the Square area after the White House was the home of Commodore Stephen Decatur, a hero of the early-1800s Barbary Pirate Wars.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Washington DC
National Security Council HQ
The famous site of the NSC's cover-up of the Iran-Contra paper trail.
Lafayette Square
Given its proximity to the White House, the square is notable for innumerable scandals, most famously for Confederate spy “Rebel Rose.”
Hay-Adams Hotel
The restaurant here was the site of secret meetings to solicit contributions for the Iran-Contra operation.
President Andrew Jackson
An American soldier and statesman, involved in the controversial Trail of Tears, but also famous for making the White House accessible to the public and for listening to the people.
Petticoat Affair
The Petticoat affair was an 1829–1831 U.S. scandal involving members of President Andrew Jackson's Cabinet and their wives.
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!”

Related Tours

Private Tour of Pennsylvania Avenue's Politics and History
Washington DC has a reputation as a wheeler-dealer city where billion-dollar contracts, cosy media deals, death wishes and political alliances are sealed in smokey bars, board rooms, and dinners hosted by power brokers in swanky Georgetown townhouses. On your tour down memory lane of scandals past, discover the secrets, lies and backstories behind DC’s congressmen, journalists, military men and politicos throughout history, from Capitol Hill, the Judicial Branch and the FBI to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Hear innumerable tales in Lafayette Square, including  of Kennedy's affair with suspected East German spy Inga Arvad and how his father involved the notoriousFBI director, J Edgar Hoover, in ending the tryst.
  • Be captivated by the tales of attempted assassinations and how each was thwarted
  • Enjoy stories of how during Prohibition DC was likely the least dry place in the United States 
  • Hear about the wild parties thrown in the White House, including Andrew Jackson's inauguration party in which he slipped out of the house threw a back window to escape the rabble
  • Learn about the stories of today's occupants and the drinking parties in local establishments which happen each time another member of the administration departs. 
On this tour, all the details will be spilled of the stories the occupants of the White House - both those from the recent past, including Nixon, Kennedy, Regan, Bush, Clinton, Obama and Trump - and its nineteenth century occupants. You will trawl the haunts associated with some of Washington’s greatest rumors, indiscretions and media storms. Security details, news-hounds, senators, lawmakers, cable news stars and White House officials. Examine the phenomena of  'Fake News', the tenures of Presidents past and present, and ask yourself if you would make yourself at home in a city where politicians seem to be a revolving door of residents. 
The Mayflower Hotel's Spies, Secrets, and Scandals Experience
Let us bring to life the unique role of the Mayflower Hotel in the capital's history with this crafted experience with your own expert local guide, a complimentary cocktail in the Edgar Bar. For those who book an afternoon tour, your tour kicks off with a glass of complimentary champagne. 

Hear tales of the ways the world's most powerful capital drips with scandals and is embroiled in the underbelly of global clandestine efforts.

  • Your guide will meet you in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel.
  • 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 of 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 have made the Mayflower Hotel one of the most famous places in the city since its opening in the 1920’s, 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 with a prostitute in a high-end prostitution ring 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 bedeviled 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 favorites tales.

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