Miss A Columnist

Denise Willard has over a decade of experience transforming the homes of clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Her work has been showcased on ABC Affiliate, News Channel 8 and published in The Washington Post, Home and Design Magazine, Washington Home & Garden, The Washingtonian, and Elan. She writes a regular design column for Viva Tysons, and has a blog where she shares her interior decorating insights, DreamDesignLive.com .

Denise specializes in creating simple, but elegant transitional interiors that are reflective of her clients' personalities and lifestyles. The combination of her southern roots and urban lifestyle can be seen in her personal design style, which combines the comfort and hospitality of the South with the flair of the big city.

Where To Take Your Date For Valentine’s Day In DC

From cooking classes to quiet dinners for two and luxury spas, Washington, D.C. offers a wealth of romantic activities for Valentine’s Day. Here’s a list of events worth considering if you are in need of a little inspiration. Discover all your city has to offer this February 14th.


Our nation’s capital has some of the best restaurants in the country and many of them have a Valentine’s Day menu, check them out and see what tempts your palette.

Lafayette. Washington, D.C. – Celebrate Valentine’s Day with dinner at the Lafayette restaurant, Washington’s most romantic dining room. Located in the historic Hay Adams Hotel, your special evening at the Lafayette begins when we they greet you with a glass of champagne. Chef Peter Schaffrath has prepared a delicious 5 course menu featuring entrée choices such as Pan Roasted Halibut, Roasted Niman Valley Beef Tenderloin and Maine Lobster served with a Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce. For dessert their selection includes a hot Valrhona Chocolate soufflé paired with a frozen raspberry glace. Your dining experience will be complimented by Tom Vogt on the piano. Reservations are available between 5:00pm – 10:00pm. $79 per person includes a glass of Scharffenberger Brut. Prices are exclusive of tax and gratuity.

Michel.  Tysons Corner, VA – This Valentine’s Day, Michel offers a menu for lovers that will romance your partner and your palate. The decadent four-course prix-fixe menu will include Yellowtail Carpaccio, Lobster, Filet Mignon, and Michel’s Chocolate Heart for Two, served in addition to Michel’s innovative and elegant a la carte menu. The restaurant is located in the Ritz Carlton and offers soft lighting and rich warm colors–glowing ambiance for your love and you. Whether dining a deux or in a group at the signature under-lit rose onyx communal table, Michel is perfect to light that fire or rekindle your favorite romance. 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. $95 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.  In addition to its special Valentine’s dinner, Michel is also offering its:  Around the World in a Sip: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting,  February 14, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. $2 (taste), $7 (flight of 5), or $10 (full), exclusive of tax and gratuity. Toast your Valentine with a special sampling of champagnes and sparking wines from around the world. Talented Wine Director and Sommelier, Vincent Feraud has created a special flight of bubbly available for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy the full flight of five champagnes and sparkling wines or pick a few to taste. Once you have chosen your favorite, opt for a full flute or purchase a bottle to enjoy at home.

Bastille.  Alexandria, VA – For Valentines Day, enjoy a five-course $115 ($165 with wine pairings) prix fixe menu that features French classics. The meal begins with mussels & curry coconut chocolate veloute; followed by foie gras & Manjari chocolate marble, apricots and cranberries with crispy country bread; butter poached Maine lobster with American sturgeon caviar, white chocolate sabayon with lemon verbena, spinach and lemon oil; and spice dusted duck Magret, Mexican chocolate-coffee sauce, orange glazed Belgium endive and candied oranges. For dessert, white chocolate with Amaretto and cherries. From February 10-18, 2012, the restaurant will offer a four course Valentine’s Week Tasting menu, highlighting many dishes from the Valene’s Day menu, priced at $65 ($90 with wine pairings) along with the regular menu.

Tallula. Arlington, VA – Special Valentine’s Day menu on February 13-14. Dishes will include Smoked Whole Maine Lobster with beet “slaw” and yuzu butter, Cote de Beouf for two with potato gratin, creamed spinach and caramelized shallot sauce and Molten Chocolate Lava Cake for two. All specials will be offered a la carte, but guests will have the option of stringing them together to form a tasting menu. $95 for two with an additional $50 per couple for a wine pairing.


CityZen. Washington, D.C. – Located at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel the famed restaurant will feature a regular three-course prix fixe menu available on February 12-13, 2010. $80 per person. They will also have a special six-course tasting menu, February 12-14, $150 per person with an additional $100 for wine pairings. The restaurant’s lounge will also be transformed into a “Sin Den” with a private cabana-style setting with mood lighting and sheer drapes, providing a more intimate experience. $350 per couple.


If you enjoy cooking, perhaps you and your companion should try a cooking class this Valentine’s Day. Preparing your own delectable dinner will be a sure way to bond and have fun with your date.

Judy Harris Cooking School. Alexandria, VA – Treat your valentine to a romantic and memorable candlelight dinner cooking class. The dinner party includes a greeting with wine and light hors d’oeuvres, a full participation style class, a candlelight sit down dinner, and a souvenir recipe booklet. Mystery Menu. Hurry!  Classes fill fast! Offered February 10th – 14th at 7PM. $180 per couple.

L’Academie de Cuisine. Bethesda, MD – L’Academie is offering a variety of Valentine’s Day cooking classes on February 11th. Choose a class that suits your palette: A Valentine’s Day Beer dinner featuring Ale-Brined Duck Breast with Raspberry Coulis, and ending in a Chocolate Stout Pudding with White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Or opt for something more formal: Brian & Sandy’s Valentine’s Dinner Date – Oysters Mignonette; Roasted Eggplant Soup with Red Pepper Coulis; Frisée Salad with Bacon and Poached Egg; Love Me Tender Beef with Get Smashed Potatoes and a little Saucy on the Side; Something that Goes with Champagne for Dessert! They also have cookie workshop if you are feeling sweet this holiday.


There is no shortage of spas in Washington, D.C. Here is a sampling of spas I found in the area that have a special tied to cupid’s holiday.

Relâche Spa at Gaylord National.   Maryland – If the winter weather is taking a toll on your skin check out the spas Detoxifying Mud Treatment. This utopian combination of intense marine sediment and essential oils produces intense purification that will stimulate the lymphatic system and re-mineralize your exhausted skin. From beginning to end, your body will be restored through deep exfoliation and an infusion hydration. ($225*, approx. 80 minutes) Also Enjoy the Couples Retreat Package complete with full-body massages, facials, relaxation wraps, and tea for two.

Spa on the Hill. Washington D.C. – This spa features a 60 ($235) or 90 ($300) minute couples massage. After your massage you will enjoy refreshments in a private suite. This is perfectly suited for the couple who wants to relax and unwind this Valentine’s Day.


Red Door Spa. Washginton, D.C. – The Red Door Spa located in the historic Willard Hotel boasts a wonderfully relaxing couples massage that is truly a romantic indulgence. Offerings include warm stone, deep tissue and aromatherapy techniques.

FOR THE ACTIVE COUPLE: If self-indulgence isn’t quite your style try one of these activities some for a cause and some just for fun!

Cupid’s Undie Run. Washington, D.C. – February 11, 2012. Run around the U.S. Capitol Building in your Valentine’s themed undies to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Blue Ridge Ballooning. Charlottesville, VA – The Romance package is ideal for anyone looking for that special way to show a loved one how much you care. It is a guaranteed private flight for the two of you and includes a picnic and photos of your flight. Its a bit pricey at $845 per couple. If you are looking for something similar but a little more affordable try the Sunrise package it includes a celebratory breakfast hosted by the pilot and crew. Sparkling cider, pastries and fresh fruit conclude your trip at $225 per person.

However you decide to spend your special day, make reservations now! A little advanced planning will make this year’s Valentine’s Day extra special.


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