The nation's capital offers an array of hotels to fit the varied needs of the tourist, businessperson and government visitor. Behind all the complex images, Washington DC is a very manageable city, easily navigable by foot, Metro or taxi. Walking in daylight is an enjoyable and relatively safe option. The major neighbourhoods overlap so it is not essential to select a hotel directly opposite the government agency, business or tourist attraction that brings you to town.
Within the city, hotels clustre into five general areas: Dupont Circle
and Foggy Bottom; two downtown areas north and east of the White House and the Capitol Hill-Union Station area. The last category includes a few hotels in the Southeast-Waterfront neighbourhood. If none of these choices suit your needs, you might consider the hotel districts in suburban Maryland or Northern Virginia.
Dupont Circle and Upper Connecticut Avenue
The advantages of staying around Dupont Circle
are significant. A thriving nightlife, dining and shopping district surround the Circle. Here, the stately mansions of the embassy corridor meet the funky and hip attractions of Adams-Morgan. The hotels in this area are generally modern American luxury hotels like the Embassy Suites and the Hilton, which has a rooftop deck that offers one of the finest views of the city. For something entirely different, try the Tabard Inn, tucked into a courtyard that offers the graceful charm of a country inn right in the centre of the city.
If you are looking for a room with a view, there are hotels up the hill from Dupont Circle
that can accommodate you. These include the Hilton Washington and the Courtyard. Further up Connecticut Avenue, beyond the stately bridge that crosses Rock Creek Park, is the glamorous Omni Shoreham
, lavish enough to host inaugural balls. Near the National Zoo
, the Sheraton Crystal City is the city's largest hotel.
Georgetown and Foggy Bottom
Many hotels in Georgetown
assume the historic ambiance of this neighbourhood. Offering a charming colonial atmosphere, the Georgetown Suites and the Georgetown Inn are a few steps away from the neighbourhood scene with their shops, restaurants and bars. For those who enjoy historical touches as well as more intimate, small-scale luxury, the Latham
will likely please you. There is also the Four Seasons, which boasts a modern facade with classical elegance. It is here where you may cross paths with visiting Hollywood stars.
neighbouring Foggy Bottom is one of the city's crossroads, offering several types of hotels. Like many of the Georgetown hotels, the George Washington University Inn offers the charm of smaller establishments with the convenience of in-room kitchens. Also, the Watergate Hotel
, although hardly requiring an introduction, offers elegant and spacious rooms, many of which overlook the nearby Potomac River.
Downtown, North of the White House
Some of the oldest, most lavish and stately hotels in the city are located in this area. If lodging in a hotel mentioned in history books appeals to you, this is the neighbourhood to find one. For decades, Heads of State have selected the Loews
on 15th Street for a comfortable stay. The St. Regis Hotel
is a regal mansion decorated with lovely antiques. Franklin Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover frequented the dignified Renaissance Mayflower
. For a view of the White House, no hotel compares to the Hay-Adams
, just across Lafayette Square from the Executive Mansion. The Jefferson
is for those who prefer smaller establishments with the elegant charm of Federal-era Washington.
Modern elegance dominates many downtown hotels. Two of them are the Capital Hilton and, closer to Dupont Circle
, is the Beacon Hotel. There are also a few hotels in the area that offer comfortable rooms and suites at more modest prices. Among these are the Lincoln Suites and Topaz.
Downtown, East of the White House
A clustre of hotels lies between the White House and the Washington Convention centre. They range from modern and classic luxury to the abundantly lavish. In the last category, three hotels stand out as extravaganzas of design. The Willard InterContinental
is an opulent Beaux Arts dream, while the Marriott
boasts an enormous atrium and lavish, classical decor. The Grand Hyatt
, with a Mediterranean inner landscape, has an indoor waterfall and lagoon.
Many of the hotels in this district are bastions of old-world style. The Hotel Washington
is among these and has a famous terrace bar with a magnificent view of the city skyline. The Marriott at Metro centre possesses a continental flavour. The Victorian-style Morrison-Clark Inn
and the Henley Park Hotel
with its Elizabethan facade are both establishments known for their charm, elegance and comfort.
Capitol Hill and Southeast
These two neighbourhoods are somewhat removed from the rest of the city, but have their own charms and advantages. If government business brings you to Washington, proximity to the U.S. Capitol
or to the government agencies located in Southeast might be amongst your priorities.
Near The Mall, the family-friendly Hyatt Regency has modern appeal and a fabulous garden atrium. On the other side of the U.S. Capitol
, near Union Station is the modern and elegant Washington Court Hotel complete with dining, shopping and entertainment.
In Southeast Washington, L'Enfant Plaza Hotel is located above shops and a Metro station. A thoroughly modern hotel, it offers lovely views of the city and the river. The Channel Inn will bring you the closest to the river as it lies directly at its edge.
Washington has several suburbs that are convenient extensions of the city rather than far-flung communities. The hotels within the city limits are often booked up months in advance, so a look at Maryland or Northern Virginia might be the solution for trips that come up suddenly.
Bethesda, Maryland boasts excellent dining and shopping and it is on the Metro line. A few of the finer hotels here are the Bethesda Court Hotel , the Hyatt Regency and the Bethesda Marriott.
In Northern Virginia, two distinct areas are thriving neighbourhoods in their own right. Old Town Alexandria
is an authentic colonial waterfront community, full of artistic shops, live music and wonderful restaurants. Arlington begins at Rosslyn, which lies just over Key Bridge and extends several Metro stops into Virginia. Excellent ethnic restaurants and nightclubs along this corridor attract even those old-time Washingtonians who rarely step across the city limits. Fine hotels in Northern Virginia include the Hyatt Arlington, the Hilton Arlington, the Courtyard, and the Embassy Suites.