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Washington D.C.'s 18 Most Essential Hotels

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In today's new release of Curbed's Hotel 18 map, we're once again attacking the question, "Where should I stay in Washington D.C.?" While our first version of this map included 38 choices, we've carefully edited this version down to 18. In this smaller, leaner selection, we've made some tough choices to bring you the best of the best, and only those hotels considered most essential via reader and expert recommendations.

While this list certainly contains famous (and infamous) award winning names near the heart of the Smithsonian like the Willard Intercontinental and the Hay-Adams, it does not discount smaller family-run establishments like the or trendy boutique hotels. Tabard Inn, Hotel Monaco and Donovan House all made the cut.

We'll be updating the map again in due time, so if you have a favorite that wasn't included, please mention it in the comments or tip us for next time. If you spot a hotel unworthy of the Hotel 18 distinction, we want to hear about that, too. Also, if you find this helpful, head over to our sister site, Racked DC. It's Travel Week over there and they've got some great intel on any and all things travel-related, whether it's where to take your visiting relatives or where to check in before taking off yourself.


· The 38 Essential Washington D.C. Hotels [CDC]
Zach Everson

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1. The Madison Hotel

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1177 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 862-1600
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This downtown 1963 opening blends elegance and chic in a manner that'll appeal to most tastes but doesn't come across as generic. While the Madison claims its 365 guest rooms are "European inspired," the hotelier is referring to the decor, not the room size, which is spacious. In-room amenities include a Keurig, daily newspaper delivery and C.O. Bigelow products, so guests have no excuse for being tired, uninformed or dry.

2. Hotel Monaco

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700 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-7177
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183 rooms might be too many for a hotel to be considered a boutique, but this Kimpton property pulls it off. It's located in Penn Quarter near Chinatown, which, as it's 2013 and not 1993, is a good thing. Expect all the usual quirky Kimpton amenities: in-room goldfish (upon request), complimentary nightly wine hours and flashy robes that befit the Perry's drag brunch dressing room.

3. W Washington D.C.

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515 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 661-2400
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It's P.O.V. Rooftop Terrace bar affords a view of the White House and testifies to the bureaucratic city's love of acronyms. Located next to the White House, the vibe—"where Italian Renaissance meets modern cool"—seems better suited to a Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga party. But while there are plenty of quality lodging options near the No Drama Obama's house, none of them can lay claim to "modern cool."

4. The Hay-Adams Hotel

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800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-6600
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Located across Lafayette Square from the White House, a stay in the Italian Renaissance-style building is as close as you're likely to get to a night in the Lincoln Bedroom—relax though, it affords a better view (and is probably cheaper). The 1928 opening underwent a $20 million renovation in 2001, which focused on the guest rooms, and it added a roof terrace, Top of the Hay, in 2011.

5. Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC

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2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 342-0444
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The contemporary, art-filled, 222-room spot claims to be the "city’s only five-star, five-diamond luxury hotel." And would the Four Seasons ever lie? A current series of renovations are focusing on its restaurant, Seasons, (completed in Feb. 2012), ENO Wine Bar (scheduled for early 2013) and event space.

6. Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square

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806 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 730-8800
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Art deco meets modern chic in this 238-room cosmopolitan hotel that declares itself "an embassy of style" (let's assume they're thinking French embassy and not Albanian). Clearly comfort is en vogue: all rooms "featue Sofitels luxurious feathertop and duvet sleep system—SoBed." The red drapes and walls at its Le Bar lounge evoke the waiting room in Twin Peaks. A few stiff craft cocktails and maybe The Man from Another Place will start looking like Agent Cooper.

7. JW Marriott Hotel

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1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 393-2000
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Yes, it's a conference hotel (29 meeting rooms!), but D.C. is the Capital of Conferences and this 737-room behemoth is one of nicest and best situated options. All rooms at the up-market Marriott brand that's not quite Ritz-Carlton feature 300-thread-count sheets and 37-inch TVs that easily connect to your laptop. So you can use the big screen to preview your PowerPoint. Or stream porn. (Your choice.)

8. Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC

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1330 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-8588
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Sure the location sucks (Southwest!?!), but it's a goddamn Mandarin Oriental. Even the most affordable rooms ($385) have sofas, marble bathrooms, walk-in showers, corner soaking tubs and views of the Jefferson (beautiful) and Washington (penis) monuments. Its spa is considered one of the city's best.

9. Morrison-Clark Inn

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1015 L St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 898-1200
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A Victorian Mansion built in 1864, this 54-room inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. So while it's a 5-minute walk to the Convention Center, it's hardly a typical convention hotel. Whether it remains quaint after a planned 54-room expansion, however is a legit question (as is how long those renovations will take.

10. Omni Shoreham Hotel

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2500 Calvert St NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 234-0700
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One of the few resort-type hotels, Southern Living ranked its outdoor heated pool as one of the 10 best in the South. It's 834 rooms are located on 11 acres and are just four blocks from the National Zoo — close enough to walk but not smell the elephants from your room.

11. The Willard Intercontinental

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1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-9100
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One block from the White House, this old school luxury hotel's Round Robin Bar draws the powerful to plot running the world and tourists to take pictures of them while they do. Almost every U.S. prez since Franklin Pierce himself has stayed here, Mark Twain drafted two books in the hotel and Walt Whitman name checked the joint in his poems.

12. St. Regis Washington D.C.

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923 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-2626
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For those occasions when a traveler needs 24-hour personalized butler assistance, a complimentary shoeshine or translation services beyond Google Translate, there's this 182-room luxury hotel. Its K Street location makes it convenient to both Mall attractions for the kids and nanny and the White House and K Street firms for Mom and Dad.

13. The Jefferson Hotel

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1200 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 448-2300
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This 96-room boutique declares it "exemplifies all that its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, held dear – intricately thought-out design, twenty elegantly appointed suites, the most modern amenities, gastronomic excellence and, of course, exceptional personalized service." T.J. had an opinion on hotel suites? Who knew?

14. Donovan House

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1155 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 737-1200
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Reserved for guests only during the day, its rooftop pool with a wooden deck and stunning vista of D.C. transforms into the hip open-to-all DNV Rooftop Bar at night (take that L'Enfant Plaza pool). Bonus: Pimm's Cup on tap. Oh yeah, the Kimpton boutique hotel underneath it all is pretty damn cool too.

15. The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel

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1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 347-3000
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Sadly its Renaissance-level service doesn't befit such a historic hotel. But as many guests are there simply to do hookers and/or coke, who cares about turndown service? Travelers looking for stays longer than 15 minutes though will enjoy the 1925 opening's spacious rooms and classical decor. Fun game: hang out in the bar and guess who's a hooker.

16. The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.

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1150 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 835-0500
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This traditional-luxury 300-room West End spot accommodated Yasser Arafat when he was in town for peace talks — bed moved to the center of the room to avoid possible sniper fire — so your requests for an extra mint should be easy for the Ritz-Carlton's Ladies & Gentleman to satisfy. Splurge on a Club Room or Suite for access to the Club Lounge (or just buy a pass outright). The hotelier is known for its guest service; nowhere is it better than in the Club Lounge (an attendant was once seen helping an infant guest remove her sock so the child could better cram her foot in her mouth).

17. AKA White House

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1714 H St NW
Washington, DC
http://www.stayaka.com/locations/white_house/

Aimed at long-term business travelers, its one- and two-bedroom suites include full kitchens with stainless steel appliances and Bosch washer and dryers. And its modern-yet-comfortable style (Bulgari bath products, marble bathroom floors and walls) mean while it's easy to get cozy here, you're not likely to confuse it for your apartment.

18. Tabard Inn

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1739 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-8528
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Amongst the regulars in this turn of the 20th century inn's 40 guest rooms is a ghost (don't worry; he doesn't require a rollout). Coziness in a period setting — all rooms are unique — comes at the expense of elevators and TVs. Also note that its website's FAQ includes the question, "What does 'shared bath' mean?"

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1. The Madison Hotel

1177 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

This downtown 1963 opening blends elegance and chic in a manner that'll appeal to most tastes but doesn't come across as generic. While the Madison claims its 365 guest rooms are "European inspired," the hotelier is referring to the decor, not the room size, which is spacious. In-room amenities include a Keurig, daily newspaper delivery and C.O. Bigelow products, so guests have no excuse for being tired, uninformed or dry.

1177 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

2. Hotel Monaco

700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004

183 rooms might be too many for a hotel to be considered a boutique, but this Kimpton property pulls it off. It's located in Penn Quarter near Chinatown, which, as it's 2013 and not 1993, is a good thing. Expect all the usual quirky Kimpton amenities: in-room goldfish (upon request), complimentary nightly wine hours and flashy robes that befit the Perry's drag brunch dressing room.

700 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004

3. W Washington D.C.

515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

It's P.O.V. Rooftop Terrace bar affords a view of the White House and testifies to the bureaucratic city's love of acronyms. Located next to the White House, the vibe—"where Italian Renaissance meets modern cool"—seems better suited to a Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga party. But while there are plenty of quality lodging options near the No Drama Obama's house, none of them can lay claim to "modern cool."

515 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

4. The Hay-Adams Hotel

800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006

Located across Lafayette Square from the White House, a stay in the Italian Renaissance-style building is as close as you're likely to get to a night in the Lincoln Bedroom—relax though, it affords a better view (and is probably cheaper). The 1928 opening underwent a $20 million renovation in 2001, which focused on the guest rooms, and it added a roof terrace, Top of the Hay, in 2011.

800 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20006

5. Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC

2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

The contemporary, art-filled, 222-room spot claims to be the "city’s only five-star, five-diamond luxury hotel." And would the Four Seasons ever lie? A current series of renovations are focusing on its restaurant, Seasons, (completed in Feb. 2012), ENO Wine Bar (scheduled for early 2013) and event space.

2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

6. Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square

806 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Art deco meets modern chic in this 238-room cosmopolitan hotel that declares itself "an embassy of style" (let's assume they're thinking French embassy and not Albanian). Clearly comfort is en vogue: all rooms "featue Sofitels luxurious feathertop and duvet sleep system—SoBed." The red drapes and walls at its Le Bar lounge evoke the waiting room in Twin Peaks. A few stiff craft cocktails and maybe The Man from Another Place will start looking like Agent Cooper.

806 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

7. JW Marriott Hotel

1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20024

Yes, it's a conference hotel (29 meeting rooms!), but D.C. is the Capital of Conferences and this 737-room behemoth is one of nicest and best situated options. All rooms at the up-market Marriott brand that's not quite Ritz-Carlton feature 300-thread-count sheets and 37-inch TVs that easily connect to your laptop. So you can use the big screen to preview your PowerPoint. Or stream porn. (Your choice.)

1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20024

8. Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC

1330 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

Sure the location sucks (Southwest!?!), but it's a goddamn Mandarin Oriental. Even the most affordable rooms ($385) have sofas, marble bathrooms, walk-in showers, corner soaking tubs and views of the Jefferson (beautiful) and Washington (penis) monuments. Its spa is considered one of the city's best.

1330 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024

9. Morrison-Clark Inn

1015 L St NW, Washington, DC 20001

A Victorian Mansion built in 1864, this 54-room inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. So while it's a 5-minute walk to the Convention Center, it's hardly a typical convention hotel. Whether it remains quaint after a planned 54-room expansion, however is a legit question (as is how long those renovations will take.

1015 L St NW
Washington, DC 20001

10. Omni Shoreham Hotel

2500 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20008

One of the few resort-type hotels, Southern Living ranked its outdoor heated pool as one of the 10 best in the South. It's 834 rooms are located on 11 acres and are just four blocks from the National Zoo — close enough to walk but not smell the elephants from your room.

2500 Calvert St NW
Washington, DC 20008

11. The Willard Intercontinental

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

One block from the White House, this old school luxury hotel's Round Robin Bar draws the powerful to plot running the world and tourists to take pictures of them while they do. Almost every U.S. prez since Franklin Pierce himself has stayed here, Mark Twain drafted two books in the hotel and Walt Whitman name checked the joint in his poems.

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004

12. St. Regis Washington D.C.

923 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

For those occasions when a traveler needs 24-hour personalized butler assistance, a complimentary shoeshine or translation services beyond Google Translate, there's this 182-room luxury hotel. Its K Street location makes it convenient to both Mall attractions for the kids and nanny and the White House and K Street firms for Mom and Dad.

923 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

13. The Jefferson Hotel

1200 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

This 96-room boutique declares it "exemplifies all that its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, held dear – intricately thought-out design, twenty elegantly appointed suites, the most modern amenities, gastronomic excellence and, of course, exceptional personalized service." T.J. had an opinion on hotel suites? Who knew?

1200 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20036

14. Donovan House

1155 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Reserved for guests only during the day, its rooftop pool with a wooden deck and stunning vista of D.C. transforms into the hip open-to-all DNV Rooftop Bar at night (take that L'Enfant Plaza pool). Bonus: Pimm's Cup on tap. Oh yeah, the Kimpton boutique hotel underneath it all is pretty damn cool too.

1155 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

15. The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel

1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

Sadly its Renaissance-level service doesn't befit such a historic hotel. But as many guests are there simply to do hookers and/or coke, who cares about turndown service? Travelers looking for stays longer than 15 minutes though will enjoy the 1925 opening's spacious rooms and classical decor. Fun game: hang out in the bar and guess who's a hooker.

1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036

16. The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.

1150 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20037

This traditional-luxury 300-room West End spot accommodated Yasser Arafat when he was in town for peace talks — bed moved to the center of the room to avoid possible sniper fire — so your requests for an extra mint should be easy for the Ritz-Carlton's Ladies & Gentleman to satisfy. Splurge on a Club Room or Suite for access to the Club Lounge (or just buy a pass outright). The hotelier is known for its guest service; nowhere is it better than in the Club Lounge (an attendant was once seen helping an infant guest remove her sock so the child could better cram her foot in her mouth).

1150 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20037

17. AKA White House

1714 H St NW, Washington, DC

Aimed at long-term business travelers, its one- and two-bedroom suites include full kitchens with stainless steel appliances and Bosch washer and dryers. And its modern-yet-comfortable style (Bulgari bath products, marble bathroom floors and walls) mean while it's easy to get cozy here, you're not likely to confuse it for your apartment.

18. Tabard Inn

1739 N St. NW, Washington, DC 20036

Amongst the regulars in this turn of the 20th century inn's 40 guest rooms is a ghost (don't worry; he doesn't require a rollout). Coziness in a period setting — all rooms are unique — comes at the expense of elevators and TVs. Also note that its website's FAQ includes the question, "What does 'shared bath' mean?"

1739 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20036