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

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
Updated Sep 24, 2021
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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, which are handily numbered and lettered.

Many of the top places to visit are concentrated along the National Mall, the broad park that 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. Washington's Metro and bus system makes getting around easy, and the central area is quite level, for easy walking between attractions.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. for Sightseeing

National Mall
National Mall

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. It is a landmark property housed in what once served as a post office building.

If you are traveling with a dog, the Kimpton is super pup friendly and never charges fees or limits size.

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 D.C. is an iconic DC property that is about to undergo a name change and branding. At the time of writing, it had been announced the "W" would be removed from the hotel's name shortly; however, the property is not expected to close. Currently, it features glam rooms and suites, as well as a fabulous covered rooftop terrace with some of the best views in D.C.

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. In the same neighborhood, the newly revamped Hamilton Hotel Washington DC has added a restaurant featuring Italian favorites and Neapolitan pizza.

Only a bit farther, but still walkable to the National Mall, the freshly refurbished The St. Gregory Hotel has 156 luxury rooms and suites, some of which have terraces with views. Georgetown is also within walking distance, and there is a Metro station nearby.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. for Luxury

Photo Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
Photo Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.

Near Ford's Theatre and an easy walk to the National Mall, Fairmont Washington D.C. Georgetown is also within walking distance of Georgetown's historic streets of restaurants and shops. This green hotel has an indoor saltwater swimming pool and fitness center. It also features trendy rooms and suites, with either city or courtyard views and marble bathrooms.

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. The rooms and suites here are spacious and poshly decorated, with marble bathrooms. Some of the best suites have furnished terraces.

For meals, you can order room service or grab a table at either of the on-site restaurants. One is a modern steakhouse, the other is known as a DC power breakfast spot.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.: Mid-Range

Capitol Hill Hotel
Photo Source: Capitol Hill Hotel

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.

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 turndown service, bottled water, and blackout curtains make this mid-range hotel seem more like a luxury one.

In a quiet residential neighborhood beyond Georgetown, the budget-priced Kimpton Glover Park Hotel sits on a street lined with restaurants. It's close to American University, and there's a shuttle bus to the University, Georgetown, and the Metro Station. It's a short walk to the National Cathedral.

Well-located for fans of the Washington Nationals, only a 10-minute walk from the stadium, Courtyard Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard overlooks a park where there's a splash pool for kids in the summer and ice-skating (with skate rentals) in the winter. A Metro station is just around the corner.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. on a Budget

Georgetown Suites
Photo Source: Georgetown Suites

Although it's not within walking distance of the downtown attractions, Days Inn by Wyndham 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.

At the edge of the trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood and minutes from the Red Line Metro station, Adam's Inn is set in a pair of townhouses. Continental breakfast is included in the budget rates, but not all rooms have private baths. The DC Circulator bus connecting to downtown is a two-minute walk from the inn.

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.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. for Couples

Photo Source: Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C.
Photo Source: Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C.

From the moment you enter the grand lobby, the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. 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, Washington DC 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 Washington DC 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.

Relax together after a day's sightseeing overlooking a leafy park from a private balcony at the Morrison-Clark Historic Inn. The Victorian home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its bright, well-decorated rooms have tall bay windows and antique features. The quiet neighborhood is a few blocks from the Convention Center and Metro, and within walking distance of the National Mall museums. The hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus stops nearby.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. for Families

The Hay-Adams
Photo Source: The Hay-Adams

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 Georgetown 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.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C. for a Green Experience

Photo Source: InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf
Photo Source: InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf

InterContinental Washington D.C. - The Wharf and its surroundings have earned LEED-Neighborhood Development Gold status, and its luxury guest rooms and suites reflect the latest in sustainable design. Among other features, the development's sustainable initiatives include the use of recycled and diverted building material, and flooring made from low-volatile organic compounds. The rooftop pool has views across the Potomac, and a free shuttle bus takes guests to the nearby Metro station and the National Mall.

Guest rooms at the LEED Gold-certified Eaton Hotel, located between the White House and Washington Convention Center, feature natural and organic mattresses and bathroom amenities, while the rooftop has an herb garden and wind turbine.

The Eaton appeals to progressive-thinking travelers with its emphasis on human rights (a library of books on the topic is in every guest room) and offering programs and conversations on social justice. Guests love the mid-century modern vibe and furnishings, as well as the turntables and vinyl albums in each room.

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