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Where to Stay in Washington
The majority of Washington D.C.’s must-see sights are within a fairly limited geographic area, and with the city’s sophisticated mass transit system and pedestrian-friendly streets, it can be easy to explore the area no matter where your home base is. So when you’re seeking out the Washington D.C. hotel deals that are right for you, it’s fine to focus on value and amenities knowing that you can efficiently get around from just about anywhere you can find available lodging.
Downtown D.C. is scattered with accommodations ranging from upscale luxury hotels to historic bed and breakfasts. This large, centralized section of town is anchored at the south end by the White House and includes the National Geographic Museum. To the southeast of Downtown, a handful of hotels offer great views of the Capitol Building and convenient pedestrian access to Capitol Hill.
Many more hotels are available to the north and west of Downtown D.C., however. The Foggy Bottom neighborhood lies to the west, on the banks of the Potomac, and has a small but diverse mix of hotels. As the neighborhood blends into the West End farther north, lodging options become more numerous and have more character. Even farther northwest is Dupont Circle, home to Embassy Row and several of the most popular hotels in town.
Washington Hotel Tips
Modern luxury hotels aren’t hard to come by in the Midtown section of Downtown D.C., the Foggy Bottom/West End area or in Georgetown, slightly farther west. Economy chain hotels are less common throughout the area than in many other cities, but you can still find affordable rates on comfortable accommodations from private hoteliers.
Historic hotels and B&Bs can be found all throughout central D.C. and just north of Capitol Hill. What some of these properties lack in modern amenities, they make up for in unique character and stories of famous former guests.
Washington Hotel Recommendations
For the true Washington D.C. experience, the Willard InterContinental Washington may be the best place to stay. As if its beyond-compare décor and gourmet dining weren’t enough, the Willard has hosted nearly every U.S. President since Franklin Pierce. Mark Twain wrote two books while staying here, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. retired in its rooms the evening after his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Perhaps the city’s finest hotel, located on the border of Georgetown, is the Four Seasons. Its rooms combine classic elegance with the latest electronics, and its concierges recognize all guests and greet them by name. In the lobby, a Michael Mina fine dining restaurant serves some of the most inventive meals in town.
When the weather is pleasant, Washington D.C. is a fun and beautiful city to explore on foot. The largest share of monuments, museums and nightlife districts are also concentrated in the west and northwest sections of the city, making it possible to walk among multiple attractions without completely wearing yourself out.
But when you do need to hitch a ride, the capital’s extensive rail system is easily the best way to travel. Metrorail cards are available at fare machines at every stop, where you’ll also find information kiosks that distribute handy pocket guides with maps and instructions. If you plan to rely heavily on the Metrorail during your stay, consider purchasing a 7-day unlimited ride pass. And if your flight to Washington D.C. lands at Reagan National Airport, you can bypass the taxi stand and jump on the Metro without even going outside.
On the surface streets, the Metrobus transit system is equally impressive. While slower than the rail, it may offer more direct routes depending on your desired destination. But in order to determine the best route, you’ll need a Metrobus system map; the easiest way to obtain one is to request it online through the Metrobus website in advance of your trip.
Taxis also circulate the city regularly. During the day, you may see more of them downtown and near Capitol Hill, and at night, cabbies look for fares in popular nightlife districts like Adams-Morgan and Dupont Circle.