Best Historic Hotel
The Willard InterContinental celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006 as the "new" 12-story Willard, replacing the original, smaller "City Hotel" that existed here between 1816 and 1906. Whether known as the City or the Willard, the hotel has hosted nearly every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. President Ulysses S. Grant liked to unwind with cigar and brandy in the Willard lobby after a hard day in the Oval Office, and such literary luminaries as Mark Twain and Charles Dickens used to hang out in the Round Robin bar.
Two contenders win in this category: For a true heart-of-the-city experience, the Monaco Washington DC can't be beat. The hotel lies halfway between the White House and Capitol Hill, a short walk from the Mall, across the street from the Verizon Center (also a Metro stop, FYI) and two Smithsonian museums, and in the middle of a neighborhood known for its many restaurants, shops, and clubs. Closer to the White House but also within easy reach of the Mall is the W Washington, D.C. Hotel, whose canopied rooftop bar overlooks the Executive Mansion, as well as the Washington Monument, less than a half-mile away.
Best Place for a Romantic Getaway
Posh Ritz-Carlton Georgetown lies in the heart of Georgetown but just enough off the beaten path to make you feel like you've really escaped; its small size, only 86 rooms, adds an air of intimacy. While the Ritz's spa, sexy bar, lovely rooms, and solicitous service may tempt you to stay put, it would be a shame to pass up the chance to stroll hand in hand along Georgetown's quaint streets to dine close by at one of the city's most romantic restaurants -- 1789 and La Chaumiere among them. Every bit as romantic is The Jefferson, which also captures top honors for one of our "Best Splurge Hotel."
Best for Business Travelers
Though many hotels might qualify in this category, the Sofitel Lafayette Square is the one mentioned most as a favorite by business travelers, who appreciate its prime location (near the White House, administration offices, and K Street's powerhouse law and lobbyist offices) and its righteous combination of personal and professional amenities, including comfy bedding and expansive desks in the spacious guest rooms, an on-site fitness center, a restaurant serving "French comfort food," a popular bar, a business center, Wi-Fi, and a multilingual staff.
Best Budget Hotel
Its great Georgetown location, spacious studio and one-bedroom suites with kitchens, free Wi-Fi, and rates that range from a low of $95 to a high of $255 recommend Georgetown Suites as one of the best values in town. The hotel's website is especially helpful since it posts a month-by-month calendar showing daily availability and lowest rates. Dupont Circle's Tabard Inn, beloved by locals for its charming quirks and excellent restaurant, is often mentioned as a wallet-friendly choice (rooms with shared bathrooms start as low as $120), but one of the best things about the rates is that they're consistent and don't fluctuate as wildly as those at other hotels. A multitude of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops lie within walkable reach of both the Georgetown Suites and the Tabard Inn.
The Four Seasons staff pampers you relentlessly and greets you by name. The hotel also offers an "I Need It Now" program that delivers any of some 100 left-at-home essentials (tweezers, batteries, cuff links, electric hair curlers, and so on) to you in 3 minutes, at no cost. And then there's the Mandarin Oriental, where staff speak in hushed tones, almost bowing; the spa features something called an amethyst steam room; and the very design of the hotel follows the principles of Feng shui, the better to attract good fortune.
The Jefferson Hotel wins one over with its gracious service and 99 exquisitely decorated guest rooms, several with stunning views of the White House and Washington Monument. You need never leave the hotel, since it offers a chance for sipping epicurean libations in the hotel's hotspot bar, Quill, either in the main room or in one of its nearby pull-the-curtain niches, perfect for private canoodling; a Spa Suite, which combines a guest bedroom and adjoining spa treatment room; the intimate, fine-dining restaurant, Plume; and a cozy Book Room, where a fire crackles in the hearth. In case you haven't figured it out, the Jefferson is also a stellar choice for a romantic stay. The Four Seasons Hotel is another superb Best Splurge option.
The Hay-Adams has such a great, unobstructed view of the White House that the Secret Service comes over regularly to do security sweeps of the place. Ask for a room on the H Street side of the hotel, on floors six through eight. For a coveted overlook of Washington's famous cherry blossoms in spring or of the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial year-round, stay at the Mandarin Oriental, specifying a room offering that particular view. The W Washington, D.C. Hotel is the only lodging whose views take in both the White House and the Washington Monument, from both its rooftop bar and some guest rooms.
Best for Families
The Omni Shoreham Hotel is adjacent to Rock Creek Park and within walking distance of the National Zoo and Metro, and it has a large outdoor pool and kiddie pool. The neighborhood has plenty of kid-friendly eateries, including fast-food choices like McDonalds and local favorites like Lebanese Taverna. Children receive a backpack upon check-in and the concierge can provide board games and books (no charge to borrow, just remember to return). Parents appreciate receiving the first aid/safety kit holding outlet covers, nightlights, and a list of emergency numbers.
Best Bed and Breakfast
D.C. has its share of inns but none so lovely as Swann House. Owner Mary Ross has individually decorated each of the 12 guest rooms with warm colors and fine furnishings, and manager Rick is gracious and attentive. This is an 1883 mansion, whose architectural features (such as a turret and working fireplaces) and sophisticated decor enchant romancing couples, girlfriends on a getaway, and business travelers.
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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.