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Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.: Best Areas & Hotels

Finding a hotel in Washington D.C. that is well-placed for sightseeing is relatively easy, with many choices close to the main attractions. Getting oriented in the city is also easy, due to its broad avenues and neat grid of streets that are handily numbered. Many of the top attractions are concentrated along the National Mall, which stretches from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Along it are most of the Smithsonian museums; beside it, Pennsylvania Avenue connects the Capitol Building to the White House.

The best places to stay for sightseeing lie north of the mall, between Capitol Hill and Georgetown, in the downtown, Dupont Circle, and Foggy Bottom neighborhoods. Farther west, but very well connected to the central sights is Georgetown, a beautiful area of historic residential streets and plenty of dining, small shops, and cafés.

Where to Stay for Sightseeing

National Mall
National Mall
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Quite possibly the closest of any hotel to the attractions along the National Mall, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC is only three blocks from the mall and directly across the street from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the International Spy Museum. Opposite the White House and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery and a block from the Smithsonian Museum of American History on the mall, the luxury W Washington has a covered rooftop terrace with views of the Washington Monument.

Less than a block from the Renwick Gallery and the White House, Sofitel Washington DC is two blocks from the mall and the Smithsonian Museum of American History. It is a green hotel, known for its service and luxurious rooms. Only a few steps beyond is The St. Regis Washington, D.C., where the luxuries include turndown, butler service, and afternoon tea.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Near Ford's Theatre and an easy walk to the mall, Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown is also within walking distance of Georgetown's historic streets of restaurants and shops. This green hotel has a pool and fitness center. For old-world style with smart, contemporary decor, choose The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., between Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle. It's within easy walking distance of the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial, and two blocks from the hop-on, hop-off bus stop. For added luxury plus complimentary breakfast and afternoon snacks, the hotel has a Club Level.

On the south side of the National Mall, Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. is near the capital's second-largest theater complex and Southwest Waterfront, a recently revitalized area that is only two blocks from the mall. Rooms overlook the Tidal Basin, with beautiful sunset views of the Jefferson Memorial, a short walk away. It is a green hotel, with a pool, spa, and multiple dining options. Not as close to the tourist attractions, but in the characterful historic neighborhood of Georgetown, Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC has a pool, fitness center, and spa, along with spacious, beautifully appointed rooms. There's easy public transport to the sights.

Where to Stay for the Best Value

Capitol Hill Hotel
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One of the few hotels close to the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and Union Station, Capitol Hill Hotel sits in a quiet neighborhood a block from the metro line. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast and has a fitness center. Opposite the International Spy Museum and the American Art Museum, the Courtyard Washington Convention Center is close to Ford's Theatre and the hop-on, hop-off trolley route. It has a small pool, and several restaurant options are nearby.

The highly-rated Washington Plaza Hotel is farther from the main sights but still within walking distance of the attractions on the mall. A short walk in the other direction brings you to a lively neighborhood of restaurants and shops. The hotel has a pool, and details like turn-down service, bottled water, and blackout curtains make this mid-range hotel seem more like a luxury one.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Georgetown Suites
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In a pleasant neighborhood only a 20-minute walk from the mall and a few blocks from dozens of restaurants and shops, Windsor Inn is a hospitable old-style hotel with cozy rooms that are a bit dated but comfortable. The apartments have kitchens, and breakfast is included at Georgetown Suites, overlooking the C&O Canal (its towpath is great for walking and cycling). The suites are close to M Street shopping and restaurants, as well as a bus directly to the main attractions.

Although it's not within walking distance of the downtown attractions, Days Inn Washington DC/Connecticut Avenue is only a short Metro ride away, and the station is a two-block walk. Adding value to some of the city's lowest rates, rooms here have kitchens, and a supermarket is nearby. Another budget-pleasing feature for families is that the nearby National Zoo is free and a great place to bring children in the afternoons when they have tired of museums and monuments.

Where to Stay for Couples

Willard InterContinental
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From the moment you enter the grand lobby, the Willard InterContinental Washington rings with history and old-world charm. Some of its beautifully appointed guest rooms have views over the Washington Monument, and the White House and National Mall are a short stroll from this D.C. landmark. Relax after sightseeing over the hotel's afternoon tea. Guests can also relax over afternoon tea at The Jefferson, near Dupont Circle and an easy stroll from the White House and National Mall. This romantic and historic hotel has every luxury: impeccable service, a beautiful paneled library for guests, nightly turndown, fine linens, and commodious bath tubs.

The Graham Georgetown is a boutique hotel filled with charm. Its romantic décor, quiet side-street neighborhood, and rooftop terrace for relaxing in the evening provide the perfect antidote to Washington's busy tourist activity.

Where to Stay for Families

The Hay-Adams
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When your kids walk into the impressive lobby of the Omni Shoreham Hotel, redolent with marble floors and chandeliers, they may think they're staying in a palace. But they'll feel right at home when they see the chocolate-chip cookies and milk in their large room and discover the hotel's spacious gardens with hammocks, fountains, and plenty of room to run. It's a short walk from the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park and a short Metro ride from the central attractions.

Another grand classic hotel, The Hay-Adams overlooks Lafayette Park and the White House. The location doesn't get any better, nor do the special amenities that come with family packages. Kids get their own backpack full of goodies, a baseball cap, and a scavenger hunt to make discovering Washington even more fun. Family packages include breakfast, too.

The Watergate Hotel is well located for sightseeing, overlooking the Potomac River in Foggy Bottom. This luxury hotel has a pool, and the spacious rooms have all the modern amenities, plus memory-making views of the river and the city skyline. Also with a pool - not common in hotels this central - the mid-range Hampton Inn Washington, D.C./White House is near the White House and an easy walk to the Smithsonian museums. Breakfast is complimentary.

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