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D.C. Hotels: Find the Perfect Place to Rest

Our nation’s capital offers an array of family-friendly hotels of varying price, luxury and location. Learn from our hotel guru which bed best suits your family vacation best.

 

With a life-long hotel obsession, it was natural that my move to our nation’s capital would lead to a job with a major hotel chain representing its hotels in the Washington, D.C., area. This interest, combined with my job experience, renders me an unofficial hotel guru among my friends. The great thing I’ve learned about D.C. is that regardless of your preference, there is a hotel to suit absolutely every need, whim, desire and—most importantly—budget.

Downtown   

Penn Quarter Hotels   

Finding a good “home base” in Washington, D.C., can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t do your research. If you want to be downtown near the monuments and museums on the National Mall, know that the closest hotel is still a good 10- to 15-minute walk away. The Penn Quarter neighborhood surrounding 7th Street near the Verizon Center sports arena is not the closest to the Mall, but it’s a great option that is still walking distance from the popular sites and has a Metro stop nearby (Gallery Place/Chinatown: Red, Yellow and Green lines). This revitalized area between the White House and the U.S. Capitol is one of D.C.’s hottest neighborhoods featuring art galleries, shopping, theaters and a variety of interesting restaurant options. 

  • Hotel Monaco, www.monaco-dc.com, 700 F St. NW, tel. 202-649-1202 or 800-649-1202, Metro-Gallery Place/Chinatown: Fun Kimpton hotel in D.C.’s former General Post Office building where parents can still feel young and hip. Pets are also welcome or the hotel can loan you a goldfish to keep in your room during your stay. Best of all, it is next door to the International Spy Museum. Rates from $219. (Read more about this great kids museum and other cultural sights in our Museums and Memorials article.)
  • Hampton Inn, www.washingtondc.hamptoninn.com, 901 6th St NW, tel. 202-842-2500, Metro-Gallery Place/Chinatown: A less flashy option but in the same terrific neighborhood with slightly lower rates. Family-friendly amenities include in-room fridge, free hot buffet breakfast and an indoor pool. Rates from $229.

Historic Hotels in Downtown Washington, D.C.

If you are insistent on staying as close to the National Mall as possible, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in culture and history by checking into a historic hotel. Following are some hotel gems that make you forget why you didn’t want to stay downtown in the first place.

  • Willard Intercontinental, www.washington.interconti.com, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, tel. 202-628-9100 or 800-827-1747, M. Metro Center (Red, Orange or Blue lines): Learn why its lobby is responsible for the coining of the word, “lobbyist.” Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech in one of the hotel rooms. Photographic museum of the history of the hotel is on the first floor. Rates from $229.
  • Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, www.renaissancehotels.com, 1227 Connecticut Avenue, tel. 202-347-3000 or 800-468-3571, M. Farragut (North-Red line): Franklin Delano Roosevelt penned his inaugural address in room 570 and John F. Kennedy was a resident while he was a senator. Ask the concierge for a self-guided tour of the hotel that highlights its illustrious history. Historic photographic and memorabilia is on display on the mezzanine level. Rates from $199.

Woodley Park/National Zoo Neighborhood

An alternative to pricier downtown hotels is to consider hotels just outside of downtown for the weekends. Located a few blocks north of Dupont Circle and a short walk from the National Zoo are two of the city’s largest convention hotels but they also are two of the city’s most historic hotels. Since the hotels cater to the business convention crowd during the week, there are often great deals on weekend rates when the hotels need to fill rooms. 

  • Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, www.marriott.com/wasdt, 2660 Woodley Rd. NW, tel. 202-328-2000 or 800-228-9290, M. Woodley Park/National Zoo (Red line): Ask for a room in the historic Wardman Tower. The main building where the majority of rooms are located is your standard chain hotel and the rooms can be small. There is a large fitness center, as well as two outdoor pools. Rates from $169.
  • Omni Shoreham, www.omnishorehamhotel.com, 2500 Calvert St. NW, tel. 202-234-0700 or 800-843-6664, M. Woodley Park/National Zoo (Red line): Ask for a room overlooking Rock Creek Park. Rooms are large and the hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, as well as a children’s pool. A jogging and bike path through Rock Creek Park is just outside the hotel. Rates from $199. Special American Express family package rate from $159 for AMEX card holders.

Across the Bridge

While a convenient location within D.C. is often the first choice, a sometimes better choice is to look beyond the city to Arlington, Virginia, a short walk across the Key Bridge from D.C.’s tony Georgetown neighborhood. A nearby Metro station ensures you are just a few stops from all the sights in D.C. The following hotels are located almost at the base of the bridge and all offer on-site parking at a fraction of the price of parking downtown or even free.

  • Key Bridge Marriott, www.marriott.com/waskb, 1401 Lee Highway, tel. 703-524-6400 or 800-228-9290, M. Rosslyn (Blue and Orange lines): Ask for a room overlooking the Potomac and check out Sunday brunch in the hotel’s rooftop restaurant for a birds-eye view of the city. Kids will like the indoor/outdoor pool. Rates from $149.
  • Hyatt Arlington, www.arlington.hyatt.com, 1325 Wilson Boulevard, tel. 703-525-1234, M. Rosslyn: The complimentary washer and dryer in the fitness room is an unusual and welcome amenity for parents. Rates from $119.

Hotel Tips

In general, when looking for a deal on hotel rates in Washington, D.C., consider weekends, holidays and—if you can take the heat—summer. There’s no getting around the fact that the city can be hot and horribly humid this time of year—it is built on a swamp after all. But if you’re planning a trip full of museum visits, it’s a good option to consider. While tourism is an obvious source of income for hotels, meetings and conventions are really the “bread and butter” for most mid-priced hotels, but in summer, both conventions and tourists typically stay away, which makes it a good time to find great rates.

Luxury and budget hotels tend to be the most popular lodging choices among tourists. Extended-stay properties—which sometimes provide price breaks in other cities—are often dominated by government contractors in the area for extended periods of time, thereby limiting their availability and discounts.

If you can time your visit right, you might find a better rate at one of the more upscale business hotels than at a budget hotel. Look at mid-range properties that would normally appeal to the business traveler, such as a Marriott or Sheraton then look at dates a business traveler would prefer to stay at home. For example, spring break is the most popular time to visit Washington, and Easter is an absolutely breathtaking season, but many hotels that cater to business travelers just outside of the core downtown hotels have availability on Easter weekend, which makes it a great time to find hotel deals. Another overlooked holiday is Thanksgiving weekend. Ditch the family after dinner and enjoy some of the great price breaks in the city. Christmas week before the New Year often boasts mild weather and gorgeous decorations around the city, and many hotels often have great rates up until the first week of January.


Destinations: Washington

Themes: Family Travel, Urban Endeavors

Activities: Sleep


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