Do you have a hotel recommendation for Washington DC?
April 15, 2011 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Two dads and four kids visiting Washington DC for a weekend next month. Do you have any hotel recommendations? Other travel advice?

My brother-in-law and I, along with our four kids (we have 2 each, ranging in age from 8 to 11), will be visiting Washington DC next month. We'll be arriving by train at Union Station on a Friday morning, and departing on Sunday afternoon.

Our plan is to visit some of the typical tourist destinations such as the Smithsonian, monuments, etc. and do a lot of walking around.

I'd love to hear any recommendations for a hotel that you've had a good experience with. Ideally it has some charm and uniqueness, but isn't too stuffy for 4 energetic kids. We're planning to get a bigger suite instead of two rooms, if possible, but I'm flexible. Budget-wise, I'd like to keep it under $275/night.

Also - while we're out and about, if we want to take a cab, how do we do that with 6 people? Are there mini-van cabs? Any other general transportation tips would be appreciated. Thanks!!
posted by see_change to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A few weeks ago we stayed at the Capitol Hill Suites and really loved it. It's right in the middle of things.

I think you'll probably want to use the Metro rather than get two cabs. I haven't seen any minivan cabs in DC.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 AM on April 15, 2011

nthing using the metro - i have not seen a taxi van here. the metro really is quite easy to use, especially in relation to "touristy spots." you can check out maps/train times in advance on if you're a plan ahead type of person. additionally, a secret spot that i love in d.c. that many folks do not know about is the einstein memorial. one of my favorites and fun for kids. check it out if you can! unfortunately, i have no hotel info for you.
posted by anya32 at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2011

There are a few minivan cabs but to get one you pretty much have to call and specifically request one. I'd second Metro. Most of your touristy things are near a Metro stop. On the Metro escalators, don't stand on the left side. Left side is for walking up/down and the right is for standing. Seriously, people will yell and you if you stand on the left.
posted by bijou243 at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2011

Embassy Suites in Alexandria is a nice hotel. I really prefer Embassy Suites just because you have 2 rooms, and the chain runs a free cocktail hour; drinks for the kids and snacks, and adult drinks for you (in DC they actually have to charge a minimal fee ($1) for drinks due to liquor laws).

Breakfast is good, they have a pool, and the metro ride to the center of DC is easy - the metro stop is right across the street. So the hotel location is very convenient without having to drive into the center of DC. Rates are very reasonable, last time I went, as well.

I went with my wife and 3 boys (12,10,8) and was very happy.
posted by rich at 7:41 AM on April 15, 2011

Avoid any of the hotels on New York Avenue NE, with the exception of the one or two ones directly next to the New York Ave Metro station.

The Metro ride in from Crystal City or Alexandria's two Metro stations is fast, and a piece of cake.

Basically, just find something that's walkable to a Metro station.
posted by schmod at 7:46 AM on April 15, 2011

Try Great site with private apartment rentals.
posted by dripdripdrop at 7:54 AM on April 15, 2011

There's a days inn on Connecticut avenue in van ness that's nice and metro accessible. The Americana inn in crystal city is clean and cheap and across the street from a metro. For something a little fancier there's the jury hotel in dupont. But I think the days inn on coonecticut is your best bet. It's nicer than your average days inn.
posted by bananafish at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2011

If you ride the metro, please, please, stand on the right side of the escalators.

There are plenty of minivan cabs and it shouldn't be too hard to find one in the tourist areas.

Definitely stay in Virginia; a hotel in Arlington will probably make an easier trip to the Mall than ones north of the mall in DC.
posted by downing street memo at 8:54 AM on April 15, 2011

There are minivan cabs in DC. You might have to call a dispatcher to find one, Yellow Cab and Diamond Cab are bigger companies I can think of at the moment. Your hotel will be able to provide a recommendation.

The DC Circulator is an easy way to get around downtown, $1 per trip, daily passes are $3. Here's the system map. During the day the busses run a pretty frequent schedule, so if you are going somewhere on their route it will be cheaper, easier and faster than Metrorail.
posted by peeedro at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2011

I've lived inside the Beltway my whole life, so please take my advice. Staying downtown is very convenient but you'll pay for the privilege. If you're DC hotel is more than 8 blocks away from the national mall, you might as well stay in the Virginia suburbs. Crystal City has tons of nice chain hotels, is convenient to the Metro, and the trip from hotel to museum would take maybe 15 minutes. But, again, the rates may not be in your range. If so, look at hotels in Ballston and Falls Church. These would be a bit farther out and would add another 10-15 minutes travel time but the rates would be far lower. Just make sure that your chosen hotel is either is within walking distance of the Metro or has a free shuttle. Most are and do. Forget about driving in DC. It's a walker's city. Park your car at the hotel and forget about it.

Also, if you have time I highly recommend a visit to Mount Vernon in nearby Alexandria Va. Very historical spot, plenty of free parking, low admission rate, and a visitor's center that's the equal of any historical location.
posted by Jamesonian at 9:42 AM on April 15, 2011

I recommend Dupont Circle, specifically Hotel Palomar. A little funky, a little elegant, and it gives you an excuse to get to Dupont Circle, which you otherwise might skip. My favorite memory of my last trip to D.C. was sneaking out of the room with my son so my wife and her cousin could sleep in while the two of us sat in Dupont Circle and soaked in a little D.C.
posted by troywestfield at 11:23 AM on April 15, 2011

On the metro - Smart-Trip cards are cheaper per-trip than paper tickets. Rush hour is 7-9:30am and 4:30-6pm. Metro is more expensive (peak use surcharge) and far more crowded than at other times.
posted by anti social order at 11:42 AM on April 15, 2011

Response by poster: This is great! Lots of good ideas and helpful tips. Thank you!!
posted by see_change at 12:47 PM on April 15, 2011

My family always stayed at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City, VA, which was my *favorite* place in the world as a kid (we went down to DC on vacation every year). The Metro is accessed by walking from the hotel lobby through a tunnel to an underground shopping mall. OMG SO COOL! :) I also adored the Sunday Brunch at the hotel's restaurant. The Metro was so much more fun than the NYC subways (I grew up in North Jersey), too.
posted by lysimache at 1:15 PM on April 15, 2011

We made the trip last year and stayed at the Hotel Harrington. No regrets. Great location. Inexpensive.

We got a big room with two queen sized beds for about $150 or so a night. I think it's one of the oldest hotels in D.C.

It's near everything: Ford's Theater, White house, the Mall (the only Mall I'll go to!), the Metro, etc.

Things to see: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, WWII, Vietnam Memorial, Ford's Theater, one of the Smithosonian jobbies. Don't try to do too much in a short time. Get up early to stand in line for tickets for some of these things (Washington Memorial, Ford's Theater, etc). They are free, but they run out fast.

Try contacting your congressman to see if they can get you into the White House. Probably not on such short notice, but it's worth a shot.

You should be able to walk to all these things from the Harrington.

Have fun!
posted by GernBlandston at 1:41 PM on April 15, 2011

We took the metro to the mall and then bought tickets on one of those "red bus" tours. This way you can hop on and off at the highlights (Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Capital, Museums, Union Station, etc). Saw so much more than if we had been on foot and let them do the driving!
posted by sandyp at 3:13 PM on April 15, 2011

I stayed at the Days Inn on CT mentioned above in early march and was Pretty pleased - it's been renovated recently, the price was right, and it's pretty easy to get to the Van Ness Metro stop - a block and a half walk. It's also close enough that if you DO need a cab back from somewhere, it's not going to drain your wallet.

While in DC I made my first visit to Ben's Chili Bowl, and will definitely be back. I think kids that age would get a big kick out of a trip and a half-smoke.
posted by pupdog at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2011

I stayed at the Washington Suites in Alexandria and it was quite nice. I think it's an old converted apartment building because every room has a kitchen and a deck. Eating at least one meal in may help you cut down on costs. Also, it's in Alexandria and has the best fish and chips place ever.

I recommend trying the Ethiopian food right off the U Street Metro stop. I went to Etete and the food was amazing. The kids will probably get a kick out of eating with their hands.

You should also go to the FDR Memorial. It's a little ways off from the main part of the Mall but it's quite lovely.
posted by calistasm at 6:28 PM on April 17, 2011

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