Like any other large, popular tourist-trap city today, there are no cheap hotels in Washington DC. Even the most modest, older ones within walking distance of the Capitol and other historic sites charge $200 a night and up. Serious internet searching may discover some for less than that, such as youth hostels and bed’n’breakfasts, as well as those in outlying districts away from the city center.
Prices tend to drop a bit after Labor Day, and then jump up again for the end-of-year tourist season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, checking for package deals with airlines and the on-line travel agencies could get some relief from the high posted hotel charges.
Bits of personal DC history from a real old guy. A week after Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, our school sent us on a class trip to Washington. We stayed at the Mayflower … now Renaissance Mayflower. I don’t know what the room rates were, but four boys were stashed in each. What’s my clearest memory of the trip? As we were herded by the various government buildings, we could see soldiers on the roofs wearing World War I helmets and manning obviously 1918 machine guns.
Another vivid memory was a business trip in 1981. I took along my pre-teen son. While we were in an office building next to the Capital Hilton, we heard all kinds of clangs and whistles outside. President Reagan had been shot! When we tried to drive away from the area a few minutes later, we were stopped by police, and we and our car were thoroughly and roughly searched. My son thought it was great fun, but I was scared as hell.
Back to today’s hotel situation, you might be interested in knowing the elegant, but musty old Renaissance Mayflower lists rooms at $415 per night, while the Capital Hilton more modestly charges $242. Keep in mind that all list prices are subject to discounts if you can get them through some kind of agency or association influence. On the other hand, all list prices do not include heavy city taxes and other charges that often boost the rate by 20% or more.
Here are some more close-in hotels and their list prices: Hampton Inn Convention Center, $203; Sofitel Lafayette Square, $310; Homewood Suites, $250; Carlyle Suites, $247; Embassy Suites Convention Center, $295 (suites are usually two rooms, economical for larger families); Quincy, $232 (tiny, but charming); Holiday Inn Capitol Hill, $284; and Omni Shoreham, $276.