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Washington, D.C. may not be the biggest city in the United States, but it’s arguably the most historically important. As the country's capital, the small but mighty city along the Potomac River — right between Maryland and Virginia — houses all of the government’s branches, the United States Capitol, the White House and Supreme Court, and it’s also where you'll find pivotal monuments and world-class museums like the Lincoln Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Smithsonian Institution and National Museum of African American History and Culture. Even if you aren’t into politics, you’ll have lots to see and do here, from relaxing at top-notch resorts and enjoying exhilarating nightlife to indulging in an ever-growing fine dining scene and imbibing at innovative cocktail bars. Here, we delve into the best hotels the nation's capital has to offer.
Best Overall: St. Gregory Hotel Dupont Circle
Situated at the crossroads of three crucial D.C. neighborhoods — with downtown D.C. to the south and east, residential Dupont Circle to the north and Georgetown to the west — St. Gregory's location can't be beaten. Whether you're a business traveler looking to work hard during the day and enjoy D.C.'s bustling restaurant scene in the evening (five Michelin-starred restaurants are within walking distance) or in town on a museum-filled family vacation, when you enter The St. Gregory — from a lushly landscaped sidewalk through modern doors — you’ll be floored by the accommodations.
The hotel has 156 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites equipped with desks and comfortable sitting areas. As far as extras go, there’s complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi in all guestrooms and public spaces, a 24-hour business center with new Mac computers, a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center (including two Peloton bikes), dry cleaning services and a 24-hour concierge. Premier Executive Suites featuring wraparound terraces and monument views of D.C. are ideal spaces to relax and rejuvenate. There’s also an in-hotel, chef-driven restaurant, Tredici Enoteca, which serves daily alfresco lunches on an open-air patio.
Best Budget: The Embassy Suites Tysons Corner
Embassy Suites is the ideal lodging option for travelers seeking D.C. proximity (it's technically in VA) and value-added amenities. Just two blocks from the Spring Hill Metro Station and 10 minutes from Dulles International Airport and central Washington D.C., this hotel is great for business and leisure travelers, big families or groups needing extra space. Modern and spacious two-room suites offer extra space with a separate living area, as well as two TVs, a microwave and Wi-Fi connection. Included in the rate is a hot cooked-to-order breakfast including omelets, potatoes, fresh fruit, cereal and more, and even better — a complimentary evening reception with curated cocktails, light bites and a contemporary setting great for socialization. If you're looking to call the night early, you can even dine onsite. E’Terie restaurant offers casual dishes like baked pimento cheese drip, chicken-pepperoni carbonara, and Cuban sandwiches.
Best Center City: The Darcy Washington D.C., Curio Collection by Hilton
Set in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., near Dupont Circle and just six blocks from the White House, this 226-room property is one of the newest members of the trendy 14th Street Corridor and Logan Circle neighborhoods. Make The Darcy your temporary home base and The Smithsonian Institution, Arlington National Cemetery, National Mall and other famous spots will be within walking distance.
The hotel's design was inspired by D.C.'s official flower — the American Beauty Rose — and contemporary rooms treat guests to luxurious linens, custom oak furnishings, original artworks, Bluetooth sound systems, 50-inch HDTVs and walk-in showers. When it comes to dining, D.C. certainly isn't hurting for stellar kitchens, but The Darcy has two great spots — an acclaimed restaurant and cozy cafe — to its name. Farm-to-table Siren serves up fresh seasonal seafood from chefs Robert Wiedmaier and Brian McBride while Lil'B Coffee Bar and Eatery is all about Southern hot breakfasts, lunches and dinners (think beignets, muffalettas and gumbos ), Counter Culture Coffee and locally brewed beers.
Best for Families: Melrose Georgetown Hotel
The Melrose Georgetown Hotel is ideal for those looking for a creative environment. The hotel is filled with contemporary acrylic artwork displays and a museum-worthy art collection that couples classic photographs with stylized prints, chromatic artworks and pieces from local artists. Wandering bibliophiles will find that a lobby-located library boasts more than 1,000 classic titles, including novels that promise guests the secrets of power and provide history on the ascension of famed political figures. Chic, oversized guestrooms — ideal for traveling families — subtly nod to politics as well with whimsical presidential portraits, U.S. Constitution-patterned wallpaper and more.
The hotel is within walking distance of countless national landmarks and attractions such as lively 14th Street, the Theatre District, Potomac Park and Rock Creek Park. Once you're back for the night, go for dinner at on-site farm-to-fork restaurant, Jardenea, which delivers on its promise to be “imaginative, current and conscientious” in both food selection and motif. Inspired by the French word for garden, the menu at Jardenea focusses on seasonal produce and regional flavors.
Best for Romance: Liaison Capitol Hill, a Joie de Vivre Hotel
Located by the Capitol Building and steps away from Union Station, this romantic hotel boasts the city’s largest rooftop pool and only open-air rooftop bar (open Memorial Day through September). Here, you can walk to the city’s most known landmarks, beautiful parks and restaurants while also having everything you could want available on property. Depending on your speed, you can sign up for a SplashCycle class (a combination swimming and spinning course) or grab a poolside lounge chair or cabana and sip a refreshing cocktail.
When it’s time for dinner, hit on-site Art and Soul which specializes in food with Southern roots. Chef Douglas Alexander develops the menu via partnerships with local farmers, artisans and growers, and dishes on the menu include lemon pancakes, fried Amish chicken thighs, ginger and tamarind glazed duck leg confit and maple brined pork schnitzel. When it's time to retire, you'll find that sleek, modern guestrooms are kitted out with tufted leather headboards, large flat-screen HDTVs, plush signature linens, eco-friendly Jonathan Adler bath amenities and Keurig coffeemakers.
Best for Luxury: Kimpton Donovan Hotel
If you're looking for a luxurious sleep sure to fulfill your R&R wishes, check into Kimpton Donovan. Here, minimalist but brooding guestrooms feature a timeless color palette of contemporary grey and canopy beds are swathed in the brand's signature Frette linens. The edgy, sensual digs boast walk-in cocoon spiral showers and most have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Thomas Circle.
In fact, the hotel is right in the center of Thomas Circle, at the intersection of 14th Street and Massachusetts and Vermont avenues. If you're keen to explore D.C. on foot (hint: you should be), you'll find tons of shops, galleries, bars, restaurants and concert venues just a short walk away — including those in CityCenterDC, a luxury complex that houses some of the city's trendiest retailers and renowned chefs. The Kimpton is also close to Dupont and Logan circles, U Street and the Shaw neighborhood, plus you can always hop on the metro — just a 10-minute walk from the hotel's front door — for adventures more far afield.
Best Nightlife: Pod DC
Right in the center of the Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood, this trendy micro-hotel offers personally curated D.C. itineraries for all guests, with opportunities to check out nearby attractions like the National Portrait Gallery and CityCenterDC. Don't let the word 'pod' scare you — 245 well-appointed, 150-square-foot rooms (available in bunk, queen and full-sized layouts) still offer rainfall showers, flatscreen TVs and comfy beds. The hotel's minimalist design — you won't find unnecessary extras like ironing boards, minibars or pay-per-view movies — simply means rates are extra wallet-friendly. That means you'll find room in your budget for local culinary and beverage offerings include Flight Wine Bar, quick caffeine pick-me-ups at Compass Coffee or La Colombe and treats at Buttercream Bakeshop. After a day of exploring, sip on innovative cocktails at the Crimson Whiskey Bar on Pod DC’s lower level before heading up to the hotel’s rooftop, Crimson View, to take in one-of-a-kind views of the capital's skyline and socialize with other travelers.
Best for Business: The Jefferson, Washington D.C.
A luxury stay within walking distance of the White House, this stately, Beaux-Arts boutique boasts views of the Washington Monument and Plume, its own Michelin-starred restaurant. Not to state the obvious, but the sophisticated 99-room stay is named for Thomas Jefferson, and that inspiration is weaved throughout. Refined accommodations are estate-like, with leather-upholstered bed frames, Italian marble bathrooms, oversized soaking tubs and European linens. Personalized service includes complimentary shoe shines and morning newspapers.
When it comes time to work, the boutique offers multiple meeting rooms, a business center with state-of-the-art equipment and internet access and conference facilities manned by a multi-lingual staff. No time for dinner at Plume post-business? The restaurant's award-winning culinary team is also available to cater events with the same Michelin-starred dishes and wines and spirits.
Best View: The Graham Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
This historic Georgetown hotel is located high above the vibrant neighborhood and hosts one of D.C.’s most sought-after outdoor gathering spots —The Graham Rooftop. The see-and-be-seen bar and lounge delivers unparalleled views of Georgetown, the Potomac River, Washington Monument, The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University. Guests looking to really take in the historic locale should request the Frank Sinatra Suite. Named after the rumored regular, the room features a 200-square-foot outdoor deck which offers panoramic views of the capital. In all, the hotel is home to 57 guest rooms, a 24-hour fitness center and an intimate restaurant. The Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar & Speakeasy is known for its food and cocktails, but also for hosting regular jazz performances.