One of the great things about visiting a city like Washington, D.C. is the abundance of accommodation options. You can stay in a budget motel, a luxury high-rise, a homey Airbnb or anywhere in between.
Let’s start by pointing out that there are few lodging options near the National Mall (and none on the Mall). What surrounds many of the popular tourist attractions are office and government buildings. That doesn’t mean hotels don’t exist near the Mall, but they are often pricey.
What we recommend is finding a hotel in your budget within an easy walk of a Metro station. If you plan on visiting the Mall area often, the most accessible Metro from there is the Orange/Blue/Silver line, which also runs through Foggy Bottom and Arlington, Va.
If you don’t mind a little more walking (and let’s face it, there will be some walking no matter what), areas like Penn Quarter, Capitol Hill, and Southwest, D.C. are all near Metro stations and have lots of lodging options. The downside is that their Metro lines may not get you as close to the Mall.
While we’re on the subject of walking, keep in mind that the Metro does not go anywhere near the western end of the Mall--the side with the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and several other sites. To get there you’re looking at taking either a bus or our preferred method: Uber or Lyft.
Frankly there are too many hotels in Washington, D.C. to list them all. Besides that, it would be overwhelming to read and it would be nearly impossible to accurately review each and every one. Therefore, we've chosen our favorites from each area: some because of their extreme luxury, some because of location, some because of price--often a mix.
Within each mini review we'll tell you what we like about the hotel and, if applicable, what we don't like. We will also list our room rating and a general price. The room rating is based on a scale of 100 and includes things like space, bedding, noise, and cleanliness--in general anything above 80 is very good (92 is the highest we have in D.C.).
The price is an average rack rate of a basic room so if a standard double room goes for $200 without discounts during the winter and $400 during the summer, we will list $300+. You can almost certainly get a better rate by shopping around, but we don't like to set price expectations too high in a city like Washington. We suggest using our given price as a comparative tool and checking around on the internet for the real best price.
For the unfamiliar, Airbnb is a service where people can rent properties to travelers. Visitors can rent anywhere from a single room of an apartment to a full mansion and is a great way to save money or add amenities--sometimes both. The system sounds a little odd, but we've used it many times with good results. It helps that the website is very well-organized and encourages the renters to be upstanding.
Washington is an outstanding place for Airbnb because the Metro system allows access to several residential areas. When looking for an Airbnb, we suggest paying attention to the proximity to public transportation and parking availability (unless you are not driving to D.C.). Any listing that is close to a Metro will say so loudly and proudly, so don't assume. Parking is tougher in Washington, but a free spot--almost always on the street--can save you as much as $50 over what some hotels charge.
In case you're an Airbnb pro or want to give it a whirl, we list some of our favorite rentals in each neighborhood on the pages below. There are not good options everywhere, but the exist in most neighborhoods. Our personal favorite areas to stay in an Airbnb are Shaw (covered in Logan Circle), Dupont Circle, and Capitol Hill.