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If you’re visiting Washington, D.C., there are hundreds of hotels to choose from, ranging from the regal Jefferson to the up-and-coming Line Hotel D.C. to the infamous Watergate Hotel — and they’re all wonderful. The nation’s capital is also known for its numerous B&Bs, however, many of which are in historic houses that exemplify the best of D.C.’s architectural history. They’re spread out across the city, with some close to the museums and landmarks of the National Mall, and others tucked into more residential neighborhoods that offer a local perspective. No matter where you stay, though, the Metro will be on hand to whisk you across the city. We’ve surveyed the D.C. B&B scene to pick our favorites for all types of travelers, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly retreat, a romantic getaway, or a place to take a peaceful dip.
Best Overall: Embassy Circle Guest House
This bed-and-breakfast is housed in a former embassy — Taiwan was the most recent owner — near Dupont Circle. Owners Raymond and Laura Saba transformed the once derelict building into a luxe but intimate lodging with eleven en-suite guest rooms, each named after the style of Persian carpet in the room. The decor is traditional, but not stuffy or outdated — it simply feels like a private home. One of the special touches is that each accommodation serves as a mini art gallery, housing works from the Sabas’ private collection. Guests are offered complimentary hot breakfast as well as wine, beer, and light snacks in the evening. You also might be treated to a taste of Mr. Saba’s mezze, which he’ll serve to guests on occasion. One more bonus — the B&B has an elevator, which is a rarity in historic buildings such as these. There are also accommodations that fit up to three guests, rather than just two.
Best Budget: Birdhouse Bed and Breakfast
Washington, D.C., might be an expensive city to visit, but budget-friendly options do abound, especially in the realm of B&Bs. Our favorite budget property is Birdhouse Bed and Breakfast in LeDroit Park, a north D.C. neighborhood home to the Howard Theatre and adjacent to Howard University. The lively U Street District is also just a short walk away. Owners Michelle and Steve Bird offer seven beautiful guest rooms — four in the main house, an 1884-built townhome, and two one-bedroom apartments in separate buildings nearby. For the most budget-friendly option, choose one of the shared-bathroom options. You won’t be sacrificing style if you go for one of these — they’re beautifully decorated and offer modern amenities like TVs and free Wi-Fi. An American-style breakfast is served in the main house, but guests staying in the off-site apartments are welcome to join. There’s usually plenty of free parking on the street, but there’s also an on-site parking lot that’s just $10 per night.
Best for Literary Lovers: Akwaaba D.C.
This property in Dupont Circle belongs to Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, a collection of five guest houses across the northeastern U.S. run by Glenn Pogue and Monique Greenwood. The Washington, D.C. iteration is set in a 1890s townhouse mansion and has eight guest rooms with en suite baths, each named for and decorated in a manner that celebrates African American literary icons or styles of literature (e.g., the Langston Hughes Suite or the Poetry Room). While the house is historic, the interiors are much more modern. The hosts serve breakfast and afternoon refreshments daily and can arrange in-room massages or romantic specials like fresh strawberries and bottles of Champagne upon arrival. To complete the literary theme, there’s a library on-site, and author talks are held in the parlor. Awkaaba D.C. is less than a 10-minute walk from the nearest Metro station, and it’s just a mile from the White House.
Best Pool: Swann House
D.C. summers are known for their brutal humidity, so what better way to beat the heat than with a dip in a pool? While most bed and breakfasts in the city don’t offer such a luxury, the Swann House in Dupont Circle has an in-ground pool and patio in its back courtyard. Inside the house, which dates back to 1883, there are twelve guest rooms, each with a private bathroom, and some with soaking tubs, fireplaces, or outdoor space. They’re individually decorated in traditional Victorian style, though most feature a theme given away by their names (for instance, the Serengeti Suite, the Nantucket Room, and the Lighthouse). Breakfast is buffet style, but it does feature a hot dish each day, and guests have the option to dine at a two-seater table or the communal long table. Later in the day, guests can enjoy baked goods as a snack, plus evening drinks.
Best for Families: Adam's Inn
Though the majority of travelers who stay in bed and breakfasts are couples, some properties do cater to groups, and, in particular, families. The Adam’s Inn in Adams Morgan is one such place — and a relatively affordable one at that. There are 27 rooms, making it easy to book multiple accommodations for larger parties, not to mention specific family-style rooms that house up to five guests. Pets are also welcome in some of the rooms, so the whole family can stay here. The majority of rooms have private baths, but there are some single, double, and triple rooms that do share facilities in the hallway — these are, of course, more affordable options. The complimentary breakfast is a continental buffet with no hot dishes, but guests do have access to a shared kitchen if they’d like to whip something up for themselves throughout the day. Other amenities at the B&B include a TV lounge, laundry machines, a garden, and a small business center.
Best for Nightlife: American Guest House
While the American Guest House itself doesn’t have any crazy nightlife — it's a circa-893 Colonial-style home, after all — it has a prime location just a five-minute walk from the lively Adams Morgan neighborhood, where you can find sports bars, cocktail dens, and everything in between. The B&B itself is a delightfully relaxing spot, with 12 impeccably furnished en-suite guest rooms. A chef prepares a gourmet breakfast each morning that features a hot dish, fruit, toast, yogurt, and house-made granola. Guests have 24/7 access to tea, coffee, and cookies, and other snacks and beverages are available for purchase. There’s a small business center if you need to print out tickets, as well as laundry services and books available to borrow (you’ll find some already in your room, too). Even though the B&B crowd doesn’t often seek out rambunctious nightlife options, it’s good to know they’re a short walk away, just in case.
Best for Foodies: Malolo Bed and Breakfast
If you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of downtown D.C., head across the Anacostia River on the city’s east side to Malolo Bed and Breakfast, located in the neighborhood of Marshall Heights. While it’s technically within city limits, the area is much more residential, and downtown is easily accessible by metro, bus, or car (and there’s plenty of free on-street parking). There are four modern king bedrooms with private baths, all decorated in bright patterns inspired by South Pacific design — a theme that permeates the guesthouse, given the Hawaiian heritage of co-owner David Alaga, who grew up in American Samoa. The other co-owner, George Lopez, adds his touch in the kitchen. He’s a Cordon Bleu-trained chef that cooks up elaborate hot breakfasts (included in the rate), plus special five- and seven-course dinners for guests. He also teaches cooking classes upon request. Foodies will definitely want to go all-in and book both a dinner and a class.
Best for Animal Lovers: Woodley Park Guest House
Is the Smithsonian National Zoological Park top priority on your to-do list in Washington D.C.? Then you might want to stay at the Woodley Park Guest House, located less than a 10-minute walk from the entrance. Of course, the area surrounding the zoo is ideal for any visitors to the city, not just animal lovers. For instance, the great restaurants and bars of Adams Morgan are right around the corner, and the closest Metro station is just 100 yards away. Woodley Park is the more affordable sister property to Embassy Circle, so you can expect similarly great service and beautiful rooms. There are 14 accommodations, the majority of which have private en-suite bathrooms (just two rooms share a facility). Breakfast is a buffet, so there are no hot dishes, but the spread includes hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, cereal, toast, and more. There’s also free coffee and tea throughout the day, plus snacks in the afternoon.
Best for History Buffs: Chester A. Arthur House
Many bed and breakfasts are set in historic homes, but the owner of Chester A. Arthur House took his love of history one step further by preserving the interiors and decorating them in period furniture. The house, one of four Victorians on Logan Circle that have retained historic interiors, originally belonged to Henry C. Richardson, an undersecretary of the Treasury under the inn’s namesake former president. It was designed by architect B. B. Bradford in a combination of Romanesque Revival, American Empire, and Queen Anne styles, among others — details of which you’ll find in the four guest rooms (which, though they are traditional in style, do have Wi-Fi and cable TV). Breakfast is a gourmet affair prepared by two chefs and served by candlelight. Though Arthur never actually stayed here, the B&B is dedicated to his honor. Chester A. Arthur House is ideally located — just eight blocks north of the White House in a historic neighborhood with plenty of beautiful homes to ogle.