Tourism continues to break all records in Washington, D.C., and new hotels are on the rise to help accommodate the flow. At least 10 hotels are scheduled to debut by 2020, bringing the total number of hotels in the capital to 150.
That number represents an increasingly diverse selection, among them bed-and-breakfasts, “pod” hotels (tiny but stylish guest rooms, low rates), convention hotels, historic gems, properties catering to business visitors, those beckoning to families, and those appealing to millennials. D.C. even lays claim to a hotel targeted to activists, artists, and entrepreneurs. Check it out: The Eaton Hotel DC (www.eatonworkshop.com) includes lodging, a members club, and a wellness center. As the website puts it, the brand seeks to “merge hospitality with progressive social change,” providing a place for “residing guests, locals and house members to congregate around creativity and consciousness-building.” D.C.’s is intended to be the first of three such hotels opening in the United States.
This section describes properties in different neighborhoods and the features that make them uniquely recommendable. They include the posh Hay-Adams, with its view of the White House; the Capitol Hill Hotel, the only hotel truly located on “The Hill”; the Embassy Circle Guest House, situated among embassies and elegant residential townhouses; and the Hampton Inn & Suites Washington DC-Navy Yard, for baseball fans—its rooftop lounge offers partial views of the action at Nationals Park!
If your desire for superb accommodations trumps your concern about expense, you should have no trouble discovering just the hotel for you in Washington, D.C.’s stable of upscale properties. In shorter supply are inexpensive and moderately priced hotels. In fact, the cheapest lodging is found more readily outside the District, in suburban Virginia and Maryland motels and hotels. But do I think you should stay there? No. For a full-blooded experience of the capital, you need to stay overnight and wake up within its urban embrace.
The majority of the hotels skew to the more affordable, whose overnight rates can go as low as $99, but seldom higher than $250. I’ve also included several high-end options, not just for the one percenters, but for those who seek a fabulous deal at a five-star place. For the most part, I’ve eschewed chains, not because they’re not worthy choices, but because the experience is somewhat predictable and usually has more to do with the hotel brand than the city itself.
Expensive $300 and up
Inexpensive Under $200
What You'll Really Pay
The prices given here are based on web searches of both discounter sites and the hotels’ own websites; they’re the lowest average rates and the highest ones, for both double rooms and suites. At most hotels, you probably won’t pay the top rate unless you visit in the spring—especially during cherry blossom season from late March through mid-April. These categories are intended as a general guideline only, because rates rise and fall dramatically.
It’s important to note that when the timing’s right, it’s possible to obtain a room at an expensive property for the same rate as a more moderate one. And if you’re persistent, or book at the last minute, you might get a steal. Or you could end up paying through the nose, especially if you’re visiting during a special event. It’s all the luck of the draw, though I do have some tips for savings below.
Three things to keep in mind: 1) Quoted discount rates almost never include the hefty 14.8% hotel sales tax. 2) Some hotels tack on a “guest amenity fee” to your daily room rate when you book your reservation. Not all hotels charge this fee, but for those that do, for example, the Capitol Hill Hotel and the Kimpton hotels George, Monaco, and Mason & Rook, the fee is not optional. Also known as a "resort fee," it can be substantial (Kimpton's fee is $26.39) and covers services that you may not even be interested in. 3) Finally, the word “double” refers to the number of people in the room, not to the size of the bed. Most hotels charge one rate, regardless of whether one or two people occupy the room.
Extended Stays in the Heart of the City
Travelers to Washington, D.C. who plan to visit for a week or longer should know about the centrally located AKA White House District apartments/hotel, 1710 H St. NW (www.stayaka.com; tel. 202/904-2500). The D.C. location is one of ten AKA properties (others are in NYC, Beverly Hills, Philadelphia, London, and Arlington, VA), all of which offer luxuriously furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments, for short term and extended stays. AKA offers tremendous value, especially when your timing is right: I plugged in some July dates in 2014 and found that a one-bedroom suite was available at the White House District location for $205 a night, which was lower than the $214 rate offered for a studio suite at the nearby budget hotel The Quincy. I know which one I’d choose! Check out the website to see for yourself some of the property’s fine appointments and amenities, including fully equipped kitchens, stylish decor, free Wi-Fi, an on-site fitness center, and a washer/dryer in each apartment. K Street law offices, the White House, the Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery, and excellent restaurants, like Bombay Club, are just some of the property’s notable neighbors. FYI: While it’s true that AKA serves mainly as an extended stay property, it also accommodates visitors for nightly or a few nights’ stay, as availability allows.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.