DC area hotel recommendation. No valets please!
April 18, 2006 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for one night in DC. No valet parking!

I'm British, and therefore cheap. I'm travelling to NC this friday and have the weekend free. I'm driving up to DC because i have just watched 6 series of the West Wing and I think its calling me. And i have a Josh Complex. Anyway...

I'm trying to find a hotel for this saturday, preferably not a large marriott/jurys type, more boutique/private B&B that sort of thing, near to DC and the touristy bits (but doesnt have to be), ideally south of the city as i will be heading back to NC on sunday afternoon. Somewhere nice so i can walk around and get food, i'm on my own so somewhere fairly lively with a low chance of being shot/a*s raped, that sort of thing.

All the big hotels want 20-30 bucks for valet parking and i just hate that. I have no problem parking somewhere myself and walking. I am on a budget. $100 or thereabouts all in is good. The smaller places are friendlier and i can sit at the bar without looking like Generic Business Guy.

Also - somewhere to stay en route between NC & DC on friday night would be good.

Oh and a quick guide to "US Gas Pumps" wouldnt go amiss. I have done thousands of miles in the US and the different technologies at the pumps scares me. I was there for an hour once (Barstow, I15) trying to figure the thing out. I was too afraid to ask.... no one said "pay first"!

Sorry for all the questions....
posted by daveyt to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where in North Carolina will you be traveling to? I assume you'll be taking I95 to DC; you probably won't need to stay the night en route from NC to DC, but that depends where in NC you start out from.
posted by junkbox at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2006

You should know that parking in DC (if for some reason you go during the week) is limited to residents with DC license plates. But you're goingduring the weekend.

Honestly, it's pretty expensive everywhere in DC. You should try looking at the near suburbs/edge cities in Virginia nad Maryland for good deals. Particularly if youre looking at south of the city...take a look at Alexandria. Walkable, lots of bars, nice, and about 15 mins to the city via Metro.
posted by jare2003 at 9:06 AM on April 18, 2006

There's a Quality Inn in College Park, MD that has parking. I think they might offer a shuttle to the nearest Metro station. It's not as comfortable as you'd think, but it's next door to Plato's Diner.
posted by princelyfox at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2006

If you're really cheap, I recommend using Priceline through the hints at Bidding for Travel. I've had some great deals that way. Although you can't really specify whether there is valet parking or not.

Just ask if you can't figure out the gas pump.
posted by grouse at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2006

The Americana seems to be what you are looking for. I can't speak to the hotel, but the location and price seem to be exactly what you're describing. It's not IN dc, but it's cheap, it's a very safe neighborhood, there are plenty of good restaurants within walking distance, and there is a metro stop nearby which is a 10 minute trainride from all the touristy spots. It's also very convenient to 95.

As far as the gas pumps go, you just put the pump in your gas tank, swipe your credit card and choose a grade. It's pretty simple.
posted by empath at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2006

Best answer: Tabard Inn!
posted by terrapin at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2006

Seconding the Tabard. It's a really cool old building with lots of odd corners to chill and have a beer. It's $100 with shared bathroom which might put you off but in my opinion the coolness is easily worth sacrificing the bathroom. Nice location near Dupont Circle too.
posted by beniamino at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2006

i love the tabard. i will second the notion that finding free overnight and all/partial day parking in DC is going to be quite difficult. $20 for valet at the hotel will be cheaper than paying at a garage.

when i lived in DC, we drove between DC and Charlotte, NC, routinely; it usually took between 6-7 hours (depending upon whether we took I95 or I81), so you probably won't need a place to stay en route, just an extra night at the place in DC.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2006

You should know that parking in DC (if for some reason you go during the week) is limited to residents with DC license plates.

posted by deadfather at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2006

I agree with empath.

The Americana in Crystal City is a really reasonable, free parking hotel just over the river in Crystal City. Thay have free continental breakfast every morning and it's located just 1.5 blocks from the Metro station, which is only a 10 minute (or less) ride into DC, and very easy to use.

Ive stayed at the Americana on business about 15-20 times.
posted by sandra_s at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2006

While parking during the week can be a little difficult during the day downtown, it is certainly not limited to people with DC plates, and for most of the places downtown, having DC plates is not an advantage. If you need to leave the car all day, staying in a close-by suburb and taking the Metro in is an excellent idea. If you plan on driving around all day, you will find plenty of two-hour meters in the around the Mall and there are actual parking lots by many of the monuments that are a little removed from downtown.
posted by mzurer at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2006

I visited DC as a tourist recently (Georgetown mostly) and found parking to be decently priced and easy to find. There was some garage near where I was staying off of Wisconsin or M St. that had an all day parking thing for $13. It was cheaper than all-day parking in Chicago or NYC, so I went for it. Also from Georgetown, it's only 0.2 miles to the nearest Metro station.

As for inexpensive food, (again in Georgetown) there are plenty of small shops to get a Pita or Sandwich for less than $7 and of course Chipotle. For dinner, there is a great Turkish restaurant, Bistro Med, on M street.
posted by vkxmai at 10:21 AM on April 18, 2006

Parking is free and unlimited on most streets in DC on weekends and holidays. Metro park and ride lots are also free on weekends so you could always get to a Park-and-ride and then just take the train into town.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:24 AM on April 18, 2006

You should know that parking in DC (if for some reason you go during the week) is limited to residents with DC license plates.

This isn't true. There are time limits in some areas for people who don't have resident permits, but street parking is perefectly legal for anybody, just pay attention to what the signs say. It can be tough to find street parking in lots of neighborhoods, though. Your safest bet is to pay for valey or a garage.
posted by drobot at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2006

The Tabard is cool. You might also try the Brickskeller Inn, which is part of the world-famous Brickskeller, a bar that holds the Guiness world record for the most beers. It looks like a single is $62 a night and its halfway between Georgetown and downtown. Then you could afford the valet . . .
posted by Ironmouth at 10:43 AM on April 18, 2006

all: Sorry i wasn't more clear...that post really was not well written the first time. I was talking about residential street parking, since the poster really wanted to save money and do DC on the cheap. (This is a moot point b/c he's coming on the weekend, anways)

The poster said he wanted to park somewhere and walk around. Parking in DC parking garages or parking at meters is certainly not a problem, if he wants to pay.

drobot: Where in DC have you been? Any residential areas in the entire city are zoned to 2 hours for non-residents (that dont have a valid residential parking permit) on weekdays during the vast majority of the working day. And you're allowed to park only in the Ward (1 through 8) that you have a parking permit for, if you do have DC plates.

This isn't a *ban* on street parking for nonresidents, but a 2 hour time limit effectively keeps non-DC residents from parking in DC during the day. If the poster was coming in on a Monday, say, then street parking would not be an option....unless he wanted to move his car every 2 hours.
posted by jare2003 at 10:46 AM on April 18, 2006

The Brickskeller is also near the Dupont Circle metro so you would have easy access to the hotel and to the rest of the city from the hotel.

Not all residential areas are zoned. The first offense of parking in a residential zone is a warning to get a zone permit within a week or face fines and lastly the rules only apply on weekdays. You should be fine to park on the street for the weekend. The problem will be more finding a place to park.

By the way, if you are in a pinch, you can leave your car up in the Brookland neighborhood in NE. It's safe and unzoned and has a metro stop. I believe you'd be fine to leave your car there overnight if you were worried.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2006

Oh and a quick guide to "US Gas Pumps" wouldnt go amiss. I have done thousands of miles in the US and the different technologies at the pumps scares me. I was there for an hour once (Barstow, I15) trying to figure the thing out. I was too afraid to ask.... no one said "pay first"!

Most of them in California now have a single spout and several buttons -- you pay, either inside, or, more often, directly at the pump or at a "pay station" by swiping your Visa/Mastercard/Gas Card. Either way you pay, you'll need to select your grade of gas (regular, "ultra" or whatever, and "premium" -- you'll probably be using regular, unless you're planning on renting a porsche or something) and start pumping normally.

if you've never pumped your own gas before, sometimes there's a bit of a sweet spot you have to hit (due to the vapor control thingimabobbers on the spout) before the gas will start coming out. On most modern cars, just jamming the spout all the way in there should do it, but I've got a old van that you've got to baby and make sure you're holding the spout at just the right angle (usually, shoved in and then pulled upwards), otherwise the auto-shut-off kicks in.
posted by fishfucker at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2006

everywhere I've been except full service seems to be a pay first situation, but i haven't driven much outside of the west coast, so I"m sure i could be very wrong.
posted by fishfucker at 11:06 AM on April 18, 2006

I call foo on the Brickskellar; their selection has notably declined in recent years along with their service. Besides, their sister location RFD has a good draft selection and is more metro-accessible.

daveyt, any interest in a get-together Saturday night if we wrangle one up?
posted by phearlez at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2006

pollomacho: you're quite right.

Thanks for the clarification. I rarely drove except outside of the Distirct with my car when i lived there (used metro and walked within), so ive actually never been to a part of DC where there were no parking restrictions. (been to Brookland, but always took Metro there)
posted by jare2003 at 11:23 AM on April 18, 2006

FWIW, one excruciatingly frustrating thing I've recently run into (in California) is petrol pumps that demand you input your zip code after swiping your credit card or debit card. Obviously, if you're using a foreign card (as I was) you don't have a zip code and it won't let you do squat -- and no it didn't work if you tried entering the corresponding letters/numbers to enter a post code (e.g., ABC=2, DEF=3, etc.) Dunno if this annoying "feature" has made it to the east coast yet but I just thought I'd mention it!
posted by lazywhinerkid at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2006

Err, so I should have said -- it necessitates a trip inside to have the ever-friendly attendant run the card manually.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 7:50 PM on April 18, 2006

Response by poster: thanks for all that. I have decided to stay at the tabard. If anyones around and fancies a pint (gonna have to work on my 'american') then i'll be in the bar at 9 on sat night. Wear a pork pie hat so i'll know who you are.)

(if anyone actually does turn up in a pork pie hat, i'll run away screaming a like a little schoolgirl though)
posted by daveyt at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2006

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