Where should we stay in Washington DC?
April 1, 2016 10:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a hotel in DC that is within walking distance of some cool attractions for a visit in May. I'd like something reasonably nice, but I'd prefer to stay below $400 a night. The ones I've found so far that look good to me are Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Hotel Lombardy, or the Mandarin Oriental (a little out of my range, but I'm flexible if it's considered awesome for the price. Any Mefites know the DC hotel scene intimately?
posted by blurker to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I loved the Hyatt Regency Dulles. I didn't want to leave. The other Hyatt Regency looked really nice to but they were booked the night that I wanted them and I ended up next door at Courtyard by Marriott Arlington Crystal City/Reagan National which I hated more than words could say.
posted by myselfasme at 10:42 PM on April 1, 2016

I love the Capella hotel in Georgetown. It's a boutique hotel with amazing beds, great service, and exceptional food (macarons at checkin, truffles at turn down service, and morning breakfast pastries). It's sometimes below $400/night if you book far enough in advance. it is a bit of a walk to the Metro, unfortunately.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:03 PM on April 1, 2016

I like the Tabard Inn. Maybe a bit over your budget but a really interesting place to stay in a great location.
posted by paulcole at 11:27 PM on April 1, 2016

The Tabard Inn.
posted by headnsouth at 11:27 PM on April 1, 2016

I haven't been there myself, but the Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center has surprisingly high ratings on TripAdvisor and is not expensive yet is super close to attractions. Perhaps someone who has been there can verify how it is.
posted by OCDan at 11:27 PM on April 1, 2016

The Embassy Suites Chevy Chase has a subway station right inside. Price is relatively reasonable, including a nice made-to-order breakfast.
posted by fairmettle at 12:41 AM on April 2, 2016

I actually just booked a trip to DC for Sept and will be staying at the Hotel Monaco for the first time. I specifically chose it because of the proximity to the Metro and the attractions I want to see--but since it will be my first time staying there I can't vouch for it personally yet. I decided to gamble and try it out. It looks really unique!
posted by bookmammal at 12:44 AM on April 2, 2016

While the Mandarin is definitely a very nice hotel, it's located at the end of a dead-end street such that in order to get to the mall you have to first walk all the way to the end of the block, go up a street, and then walk all the way back. We found it quite irritating and inconvenient, but YMMV.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 1:26 AM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

These should be riiiiiiight around your price range, maybe a smidge over depending on your actual dates, but if you are willing to go over for The Mandarin (I wouldn't), perhaps worth looking into. The Willard is really close to The Mall and White House and has tons of history -- Lincoln stayed there before his first inauguration, Martin Luther King stayed there before the March on Washington and wrote I Have a Dream there just to name two. The Jefferson is about four or five blocks north of the White House and also close to Logan/Dupont/14th Street for restaurants and bars. (The bar inside the Jefferson has some of the best cocktails in the city.) It has been awhile since I've been right around the Mandarin, but it's in kind of a dead zone in terms of restaurants and shops and things if I'm remembering right/hasn't wildly changed like every other place in the city in the past couple of years. For the Hotel Monaco, they just closed or will be closing imminently the restaurant for a redo, so I'd just check about construction that might be happening.

There's also a brand new Marriott by the convention center on Mass Ave that looks pretty nice and you are pretty close to Logan, Gallery Place, and about a 15 minute walk to the Mall, and the green/yellow Metro lines are just outside your door.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 3:29 AM on April 2, 2016

I'm writing this from the Tabard Inn which a couple of people have recommended. It has its charms, and is in a good location near the Dupont Circle metro stop, but is also eccentric. There is no elevator and the rooms don't have TVs. My room is tiny, there is no space for a chair or to store luggage. If you get a room in the back you'll be above the restaurant courtyard, which is loud with conversation late into the evening. None of those things were particularly bothersome to me but YMMV.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:45 AM on April 2, 2016

Best answer: Rooms in the Hotel Monaco are great, and the hotel is right in the middle of things. If this is your first time in DC and you don't mind walking a half mile to a mile or so, you can fill several days from the Monaco without taking Metro. You can get an occasional Uber for little expense, or you can get tickets for one of the tour buses if you don't like walking so much.

You are right to look for walking accessibility. Metro is a disaster and I do not recommend it. Weekend service has been useless for years. Recently the entire system shut for a complete weekday, and with just a few hours' notice. It is also quite expensive. If you have several people in your group, taxis or Uber will be cheaper.
posted by massysett at 4:58 AM on April 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are new hotels being built in the newly renovated (and cool) Southeast near the Navy Yard. The Marriott Courtyard by the Navy Yard is pretty nice and well within your price range. For the savings, Uber will take you on the longer hauls, but it's still very walkable - less than a mile from the Capitol and that end of the Mall.

There is a brand-new Hampton Inn they just opened next to Nationals Park. Rooftop bar that looks into the ballpark. Baseball season will be in full swing and a Nats game is a fun time, even if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan.

The Monaco is really nice and walkable, for sure, and it has a lovely bar and courtyard.

Pro-tip: Metro has definitely become problematic, but May is a great-weather month here, which means the best way to get around the city and see it is a bicycle. Highly recommend renting a bike from a shop or using Capitol BikeShare.
posted by Thistledown at 5:34 AM on April 2, 2016

The Capitol Hill Suites might be good for you. I haven't checked the price range. It's two blocks from the Capitol and one block from Capitol South Metro. You can walk a block to Roland's for some groceries to keep in the room.
posted by jgirl at 6:35 AM on April 2, 2016

Best answer: My recommendations are kind of hilariously specific, because there is nothing I hate more than a noisy hotel room. The Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center has nice common areas but the rooms are surprisingly loud (street noise). I will also warn you away from the DC City Center Westin for the same reason - the rooms all have windows onto an interior atrium, which is like a giant echo chamber. I also boycott the Mayflower and Omni Shoreham due to loud HVAC units, but it's been years since I stayed there and they might be fine now.

I generally go for Kimpton hotels whenever I can; they're really fun and the service is good. Dupont Circle is a good neighborhood to target for walkability and nice shops, cafes, etc. So, in summary: the Monaco.

Have fun!
posted by chocotaco at 7:09 AM on April 2, 2016

If it were me, I would definitely skip the Mandarin Oriental, the hotels recommended in the Virginia or Maryland suburbs or Southeast DC, and do the Monaco, the Lombardy, the Capitol Hill Suites, or for a more splurgy stay maybe the Willard.
posted by gudrun at 7:14 AM on April 2, 2016

We stayed at the Westin DC City Center in October and loved it. Contrary to what chocotaco said, our room did not open onto a central atrium but instead looked onto a street with a decent view of some churches. We were comfortable walking to the Mall and several other venues from there, and were also pleased with the restaurants and bars in the neighborhood.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:48 AM on April 2, 2016

If you like Kimpton Hotels (I love them), I would also recommend The Topaz near Dupont, which has enormous rooms for DC, and The Helix, which is funky and has really cool rooms, near Logan Circle.

The Phoenix Park Hotel has tiny rooms but is comfortable and close to the Mall/Union Station.
posted by lunasol at 8:06 AM on April 2, 2016

The Helix has been closed for renovation and rebranding. It is reopening this month as Mason and Rook (still Kimpton, but they gutted the building and it'll be quite literally all new). For that matter, the restaurant at the Hotel Monaco is closing soon to be replaced with a new restaurant (the name and concept of which haven't been made public). It's not like there aren't lots of restaurants around there, but it's worth noting. The Tabard had some horrible ownership drama and I wouldn't recommend it to anybody. We got married at the Phoenix Park and the owners and managers are really nice, but some of the rooms are indeed tiny (and some are average to large).

What cool attractions would you like to be closest to?
posted by fedward at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2016

I know you asked for hotels, but we used VRBO in September and got a great small apartment in Capitol Holl, within walking distance of the mall, for about $200 a night.
posted by raisingsand at 9:35 AM on April 2, 2016

Out of the three you mentioned, the Monaco is in the best location (in my opinion). There are other hotels in the area too -- there's both a Courtyard and a Marriott at the convention center, a Renaissance, and a Grand Hyatt nearby. If you can afford the Mandarin, you may be able to afford the Mayflower, which is a beautiful historic hotel in a great location.
posted by echo0720 at 12:18 PM on April 2, 2016

The Carlyle - near Dupont Circle, try that? Tabard Inn is nice.

The hotels near the Convention Center should be fine as they're new, just nothing remarkable, but clean and convenient.

Walking to the Mall from the Mandarin is rather inconvenient though you could easily walk to L'Enfant Plaza and hop on the metro.

Just outside the city, there's also Old Town Alexandria, if you got one of the hotels near the metro on King Street - it's really a nice walkable historic area with tons of little shops and restaurants.
posted by citron at 3:29 PM on April 2, 2016

I'm by no means familiar with the District, but I really enjoyed my stay at the Morrison-Clark on L Street a couple of years ago. The hotel is a building of historical importance and is full of character (rickety elevator and all), and over breakfast on the verandah you can appreciate the full range of the political spectrum, looking across Samuel Gompers Park to the Cato Institute. It was undergoing renovation in 2013 but if that's finished then it should be pretty quiet (especially if your room, like mine, looks over the back courtyard rather than the street front). A quick look at their booking site shows prices starting under $200/night, and you're a brisk 20-minute walk from the Mall.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:34 PM on April 2, 2016

If you're okay with an older hotel, I always like to give a shoutout to the Hotel Harrington. It's SO affordable, and it's in a pretty good location at 11th and E NW. If you were looking at Kimpton hotels though, this one might be a bit of a downgrade. Have fun!
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:58 AM on April 4, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the information! We booked the Monaco and I'm so excited!
posted by blurker at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2016

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