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Where to stay in Washington D.C.?

If my wife and I decide to visit Washington, D.C. this summer (Junish), which areas should we look at. I would like to stay in budget accommodations, if possible - $100US a night or less.

Warren

Posted by
1985 posts

That's tough in June if you want to be close in. If you're willing to ride the Metro, which is pretty easy but will add to your vacation cost as rides do add up, you can save some money.

I'm pricing for June right now and having a tough time with budget choices. Sometimes I'll book in Arlington, which is quite close in...I've gotten good rates (under $100) by checking TA for my travel dates. I am not finding that for this June, though. I've just booked the Hyatt Place West End for about $160 per night, with breakfast. It's a really nice property in a great location.

If you're committed to the under $100, look hard. I see some airbnb listings coming in under $100 but I didn't book any of them.

Posted by
6764 posts

I have to be honest...I wouldn't recommend visiting the DC area in June. It's unbearably hot / humid, jam-packed with tourists, and the hotel prices are sky high. The upside is that many fine museums are free. I don't think you'll have much luck at your budget level except perhaps for Airbnbs (and even those have prices that approximate hotel rooms). Nice neighborhoods in DC (proper) include Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Capitol Hill, and downtown, etc. Old Town Alexandria (accessible via Metro) is also very charming (and N. Arlington is walkable and urban and has great Metro access), but I have never seen prices under $100 USD, even before I moved here many years ago. The only true budget hotels I know of are off a very not-so-nice drag called New York Avenue, which is one of the corridors of entry into the city.

If there is any way you can visit off-peak (mid to late May and October are lovely), the hotel rates may be better but, in general, Washington DC is just plain very expensive to stay in (that's why a lot of people get hotel rooms out in the boonies of VA, park their car at a Metro station, and jump on the Metro, which is also expensive and now quite unpredictable due to a year-long maintenance program). Best of luck in your search.

Posted by
487 posts

In addition, if you are considering driving and parking instead of riding the Metro keep in mind that it is really pricey to park in DC. Garage rates are sky high and while there is some metered/street parking available it can be really difficult to find an open spot.

While colder (I don't think it is a peak time), right around the holidays is a lovely time to visit and see the White House all decorated. Especially if you are able to get a interior tour of the White House.

Posted by
6764 posts

You can park at any Metro station (in Virginia or Maryland) and take the subway in, but if you end up staying in DC proper, there is really no need for a car at all (it will be very expensive to park it if you're staying downtown or in very dense neighborhoods). The most accessible airport is Ronald Reagan/National (DCA), but it may not have the cheapest flights from where you are coming from.

Posted by
19375 posts

Summer in Washington can be brutal. Your odds will be better, the earlier in June you can come. July is our worst month, statistically, and August isn't much better. Unfortunately, that does not mean June is pleasant. We suffer from high humidity as well as high temps.

The WMATA website will be helpful to you if--as I expect--you have to stay well out of town for budgetary reasons. For longer subway rides there's a big difference between peak and off-peak fares. I believe to be off-peak, a trip must both start and end during the off-peak periods, which are 9:30 AM - 3 PM and after 7 PM. It will help a lot if you don't commute into the city during the morning or late-afternoon peak periods.

OK. Hotels. It's going to be very difficult to find a non-slummy place in your price range. Washington is very expensive. Do take note, as previously reported, that most of the top sights are government museums and therefore free, as is the National Zoo. Perhaps, given that, you can bump up your lodging budget a bit?

I would consider Priceline and look at locations out in the suburbs, perhaps focusing on Virginia rather than Maryland. I've noticed that a lot of the chain places out in the 'burbs offer some form of shuttle service to the nearest Metro station. I don't know whether you're flying or driving to DC, but you can't count on finding a parking space right at any particular Metro station (and you do pay for those), because early-morning commuters snag a lot of them. Parking in downtown DC is exorbitant, and a lot of metered parking is limited to 2 hours. There are also parking spots that cannot be used during rush hour; they'll tow your car away most efficiently if you overlook the signs.

I wonder whether you might have better luck splitting a Priceline bid between workdays and weekend days (bidding for Mon-Thu separately from Fri-Sun). In some areas, I imagine there's a lot of business traffic during the week and considerably less on weekends. This may not be necessary; it's just a thought.

Here's the map showing Priceline's bidding areas around Washington DC. You can click on the "Detail Map" link for each bidding area. Alas, those maps do not show Metro stations. There are some very nice areas in the Georgetown North and Foggy Bottom - Georgetown zones that are quite a long walk from the nearest Metro station. Here's the Metro system map, but you may prefer to use Google Maps, which flags Metro locations with a small blue square and white "M" if you zoom in enough.

If you haven't used Priceline before, read the information on bidding strategies. That is essential before you embark on this project. Then read about deals found in DC and the closer-in suburbs, plus those found farther out. At that top of each of those forums is a Hotel List post with a list of hotels people have been placed in, by star rating. That will give you an idea of what's available in each area. Note that those are Priceline's ratings, not independent ratings.

National Harbor, though not terribly far from downtown DC, doesn't have a Metro station, so I wouldn't bid in that area.

Posted by
1985 posts

Agnes makes a good point. I'm from somewhere near you and I had to spend 2 weeks in DC last June to help my daughter move. It really is quite hot. I was sweaty all day, every day, and not just because we were moving. It's much nicer there in April but if you're committed to June, just prepared to be hot. As to budget lodgings - this year seems worse than normal for me. I can't make any of my usual budget-but-nice finds work out. I've got an apartment at $150 I can recommend to you.

The rates are way better in early June than mid-June. Here's a link to the TA listing for Arlington, VA hotels for early June. Some of these are closer to Metro stops than others, so choose carefully. These are where I get my best bargains for DC. Sometimes I'll choose my travel dates there by the cheap lodging dates. The Hampton Inn and Suites at Reagan is the one I sometimes snag for under $100 - with a full breakfast and right near a Metro stop. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g30242-Arlington_Virginia-Hotels.html

Posted by
400 posts

thanks for all the quick replies. No need for parking as we'd be flying in. As far as the timing goes, I was thinking of early June for maybe 5-6 days.

Posted by
4999 posts

Don't even think of driving in the DC area. Traffic is a nightmare. Parking in METRO parking lots fill up very quick by commuters.

I lived in the area for several years and loved the city, its many museums and sights, but the traffic is terrible.

Suggest checking Kayak for a place were you can walk to the METRO.

Sure it is hot in June, but if you are inside in museums, all are air conditioned.

Posted by
3901 posts

We stayed in a hotel in Arlington - this was 2011, so I can't rem the name of the place. It did have a shuttle bus to a nearby mall - the mall was huge! And there was a metro stop that would take you right into DC. Now, it was a bit annoying having to wait 20-25 min for the shuttle to come around, but the rates must have been good! And a lot of the hotels in that area had shuttles to the same mall. I want to say it was Crystal City (the mall) - it had 4-5 levels - just checking google maps and see a crystal city metro stop...so for cheaper rates, you could check into a hotel that has a shuttle...

OK - so funny enough, just looking and we kept that cc bill from 2011 - it was the Hilton Hotel Alexandria - we had to pay to park the car for a few days. Not sure how much we paid for the hotel, as we didn't keep that month's bill, but geez - we had an awesome exchange rate in 2011! (1.02, so our dollar must have been almost par - compared to now where it's at .76...sigh).

Posted by
6764 posts

The mall referred to is called Pentagon City Mall, accessible via the metro stop of the same name (and close to Crystal City Metro which is closest to the airport). There is one 50s-ish type affordable looking hotel in the area (Crystal City) called Americana Hotel. Maybe that's a decent option? It's a lot less spiffy and older than other hotels and the prices should match. Looks much better on the inside (outside still has 50s look which can't be helped) and seems clean and neat. Very accessible to DC via Metro and much less expensive to stay in.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g30242-d120572-Reviews-Americana_Hotel-Arlington_Virginia.html

Posted by
3291 posts

Crystal City may work, or out by Reston, Virginia has some cheaper areas. In Maryland, Prince Georges Cty also can be cheaper. I've found suburban Virginia to have the better prices generally and still offer accessibility.

Traffic is mostly just hideous in the Virginia suburbs, Maryland and the District are not so terrifically bad.

Posted by
400 posts

thanks again for the info. I'll welcome any and all input.

Posted by
1030 posts

Try the HI - Washington DC Hostel. It's centrally located, clean and will come close to your budget target. A double room is $129 w/shared bathroom. Individual dorm bunks are $47. Tell your wife it'll be fun! I stayed there in September 2016 on business travel and it worked out well. It's better than the Downtown Washington/Downtown DC Hostel where I've also stayed.

Posted by
3551 posts

Check the consolidators like expedia etc. $100 will be difficult u may find u will need to up your budget.I got marriott woodley park for 160/ night for 2 with breakfast buffet a few yrs back with expedia.

Posted by
251 posts

I second the HI hostel amazing location walk to the mall. I am planning on stay there again next time I go back. It's not all young people I'm in my 40s and was not out of place and I even stayed in a dorm

Posted by
139 posts

If you are planning to travel by Metro, pay attention to the on-going repairs ( Safe Track) that are going on and probably won't be complete by June. Depending on the work being done lines may have reduced service and some stations may be closed. You can find more information https://www.wmata.com/service/SafeTrack.cfm. Also consider traveling by bus. The bus system is good and you can use the same fare card that you use for the Metro.

Posted by
908 posts

Warren, am not sure if you made a decision, but check the rates for the Hampton Inns in Alexandria. The Old Town South location has had some rates in the low $100s lately. But also check if they have a shuttle to Metro or else you will have to taxi/Uber to get into Old Town or to the yellow line or figure out the short bus hop to Huntington Metro. There are hotels like this that are physically close in near the Beltway yet are not right in DC or Old Town & that's where you'll find less expensive rates. As others have said, the $100 price point is near impossible. And I know you said you're not driving but just FYI that "sky high" garage rates in DC can be up to $18-20 per day. If you park before 8:30am there are some $12-13 deals. Many garages in the business core close at 7pm. Something else for visitors to keep in mind.

You'll have an enjoyable time--just bring cool, breathable clothes and drink plenty of water. I work in DC and one of the amusing things is seeing all the bouncing families drinking their Starbucks in the morning as they walk downhill toward the Mall to the museums and then seeing travelers slowly walking back from the Mall to their hotels at 5pm looking exhausted. They've seen and done a lot, no doubt. Take advantage of the AC, shade & liquid breaks! Have fun!

Posted by
533 posts

An option that's under the $100 price point (how much under depends on your exact dates, what site you book on, and whether you're willing to prepay) is the Quality Inn and Suites in College Park, Maryland. It's about 1/2 mile from the College Park Metro station, and I think they offer a shuttle if you don't want to walk with your luggage. From College Park to downtown DC is usually a 20-30 minute trip on the Metro, though the trip can take much longer when there's track work on the Green Line.

I can't vouch for the hotel itself, but the area around it is perfectly fine. College Park is home to the University of Maryland, so there are lots of restaurants and bars geared toward students. But the students clear out by the end of May, and summer is pleasantly quiet.

Posted by
400 posts

I ended up booking at the Americana. Price was right and includes a breakfast. It's cancellable, so if I find something better I can also go that route. Also very convenient to the airport we are flying into. Now if someone can help in getting a ticket for a White House tour . . .

Posted by
6764 posts

Now if someone can help in getting a ticket for a White House tour . . .

Consider the US Capitol and Library of Congress just in case it doesn't work out. I enjoyed those a lot more than the White House Tour, which I can't even remember at this point (I don't even remember how I got a ticket. Right now, due to the current administration trying to find its way and hire staff, there is a huge back up and pent up demand).

It seems like you have to go through the Canadian Embassy to get a tour request submitted.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/tours-and-events
"If you wish to visit the White House and are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, DC for assistance in submitting a tour request."

I think your hotel choice is a good one given all that's going on with our metro system (lots of ongoing repairs). The location is very close to National Airport and to DC, and probably the best you can do at your budget.

Posted by
1985 posts

I ended up booking the Hyatt Place DC/West End. It's a nice location for walking down to the Mall and over to Georgetown - I'm a high mileage walker though so if you'd rather, you can easily use buses from there and the Metro. After a lot of searching, I got a rate of $134 per night. It includes breakfast and the hotel is really highly rated: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g28970-d9763500-Reviews-Hyatt_Place_Washington_DC_Georgetown_West_End-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

Rates vary by travel day - I was able to choose my travel days to be the cheapest lodging days - you might not be able to do that if you've bought your air tickets. My dates are May 28 to June 4.

Posted by
1985 posts

@acraven - I'm a pretty neurotic searcher:) I had previously booked it at about $170 and then saw a rate change a few weeks ago and rebooked it.

Posted by
6764 posts

Using different dates is like comparing apples to oranges.

Posted by
908 posts

The Americana is also a 1960s era motel holdout in a sea of Pentagon City concrete right next to U.S. 1 and an exit ramp. I've only ever seen it from said exit ramp, so I can't comment on the interior, but please just know it's not a hotel. I'm sure you've looked at reviews and pictures. Decent location, yes, but just know what it is. They do have a cool neon sign, though, I'll give 'me that. :)