Hotels near Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C.
From Egyptian mummies to Neil Armstrong’s space suit, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., houses an unparallelled range of artifacts to delight curious visitors.
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex. It encompasses 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoo in Washington. Most of the museums are located on the National Mall, a large park that stretches from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. All are accessible by Metro and free of charge to explore, though some do require reserved timed-entry tickets.
Having lived — and driven, and parked — in the Washington, D.C., area off and on since college, my advice is: Skip the rental car, and reserve a hotel near the spots you most want to visit. The purpose of this post is to suggest the best hotel within walking distance of each Smithsonian venue:
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Waldorf Astoria Washington D.C.
The Waldorf Astoria took over the Old Post Office Pavilion building that once housed the Trump International Hotel. It boasts spacious rooms, excellent service, and a spectacular lobby bar displaying an enviable collection of crystal decanters. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The Waldorf is within a mile of ten open Smithsonian venues on the Mall:
The Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle) is home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. You can marvel at its unique 19th-century architecture, as well as enjoy highlights from each Museum’s collection, seek personal advice on what to see and do based on your interests, and plan your days. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The Freer Gallery of Art showcases Asian paintings, sculptures, ceramics, lacquers, and metalware and 19th-century American pieces, including works by James Whistler. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery features South Asian sculpture, modern Japanese ceramics, and ancient Chinese jades and bronzes. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The National Museum of African Art houses traditional and contemporary works including masks, baskets, and jewelry from Africa. The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture features artifacts related to the black experience in America, including Harriet Tubman’s hymnal, Emmett Till’s coffin, and Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers jersey. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stops are Smithsonian and Federal Triangle.
The National Museum of American History showcases artifacts tracing the American experiment from colonial times, including George Washington’s uniform, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle.
The National Museum of Natural History is the place for science buffs, with artifacts ranging from Egyptian mummies to the Hope Diamond. The closest Metro stop is Federal Triangle.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden displays international modern and contemporary art, including sculpture by Auguste Rodin. It offers outdoor jazz concerts on summer Fridays. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza on the Yellow, Blue, Orange, Silver, and Green lines.
The National Air and Space Museum houses flight-related artifacts including planes, rockets, and Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza.
The National Museum of the American Indian displays native objects from the Western Hemisphere. The closest Metro stop is L’Enfant Plaza.
Grand Hyatt Washington
The Grand Hyatt is an upscale business hotel with spacious rooms and several restaurants. The closest Metro stop is Metro Center on the Red, Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
The Grand Hyatt is within a mile of three Smithsonian museums:
The National Postal Museum houses artifacts related to the mail, including stamps, cards and letters, and a stagecoach. The closest Metro stop is Union Station on the Red line.
The National Portrait Gallery showcases the likenesses of the people who’ve shaped America, from presidents to poets. The closest Metro stop is Gallery Place.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum displays the works of artists including John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The closest Metro stop is Gallery Place.
The historic Mayflower is the longest continually operating hotel in Washington. It offers spacious rooms, several restaurants, and an elegant lobby. The closest Metro stop is Farragut North on the Red line.
The Mayflower is a 10-minute walk from the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum which features contemporary works. The closest Metro stops are Farragut North and Farragut West on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines.
Omni Shoreham Hotel
The Shoreham is a historic hotel with cozy rooms, a grand lobby, and a quiet location. It has hosted many Presidents; I saw Ronald Reagan there. The closest Metro stop is Woodley Park on the Red line.
The Shoreham is a 15-minute walk to the National Zoo, which houses many different species of animals, including big cats and the famed pandas. Timed-entry passes are required. The closest Metro stop is Woodley Park.