White marble monuments softly glow. Museums teem with fascinating objects. Neoclassical buildings house the moments that shape the future of a nation.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, click here.
Twenty-three Michelin-starred restaurants feed the hungry, the powerful, and the hungry for power.
Washington, D.C., is a unique city, thanks to its special role in the world. It’s also a great city for history lovers. At less than 70 square miles, sandwiched between Virginia and Maryland, it’s fairly compact, and most of the tourist sites are concentrated on or near the National Mall. Unfortunately, it does have a high crime rate, and rats scurrying from trash can to trash can are not an uncommon sight after dark.
Fortunately, if you prefer not to stay in the District, there are lots of suitable hotels in neighboring cities.
I recommend the Virginia cities of Arlington and Alexandria, just across the Potomac River. Both are accessible to Washington via Metro, the region’s mass-transit system. Uber and Lyft are also fast and efficient in the D.C. area, and ride-share is my first-choice means for going into the District. Driving and parking in Washington are difficult, and I don’t recommend trying.
Close to the airport are the vibrant neighborhoods of Crystal City and Pentagon City, both on the Metro’s Yellow and Blue lines and under a mile apart from each other. Crystal City boasts an underground shopping center and lots of ethnic restaurants (as well as the group house I shared with five roommates as a young working woman out of college). Pentagon City features plenty of modern dining choices and an upscale mall (where I spent way too much of my time and money during those youthful years); it’s also a short walk to the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, which is especially lovely at sunset.
There are several hotels within walking distance of one or both Metro stops:
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City
This luxury Marriott property is steps from Pentagon City station. It features top-notch service, afternoon tea, and plush rooms with spectacular views.
Crystal Gateway Marriott
This business hotel is steps away from Crystal City station, without going outside. It features comfortable rooms, lots of meeting space, and a complimentary airport shuttle.
Hyatt Regency Crystal City
This upscale hotel is a 10- to 15-minute walk from Crystal City station. It offers modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and a complimentary airport shuttle.
Crystal City Marriott
This midscale hotel is a one- to two-minute walk from Crystal City station, without going outside. It offers comfortable rooms with refrigerators and a complimentary airport shuttle.
Residence Inn Arlington Capital View
This extended-stay Marriott property is a 10- to 15-minute walk from Crystal City station. It has rooms with fully equipped kitchens and complimentary breakfast and airport shuttle.
Hampton Inn & Suites Arlington Crystal City
This select-service Hilton hotel is a three- to four-minute walk from Crystal City station. It offers comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast and airport shuttle.
Go a little further toward the District, and you’ll reach Rosslyn, a quirky neighborhood with a sleek skyline, home to the Iwo Jima Memorial, just across the Key Bridge from Washington. It also has its own Metro stop on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines, and a few suitable hotels:
Le Méridien Arlington
This upscale Marriott property is a three- to four-minute walk from Rosslyn station. It features modern rooms, excellent service, and spectacular views of the Potomac River.
Hilton Garden Inn Arlington | Courthouse Plaza
This midscale hotel is a 15- to 20-minute walk from Rosslyn station; it is also a block from Courthouse station on the Orange and Silver lines (near the location of my first job after college). Rooms feature fridges and microwaves.
Residence Inn by Marriott Arlington at Rosslyn
This extended-stay hotel is a two- to three-minute walk from Rosslyn station. It features rooms with full kitchens and a complimentary breakfast.
Ride the Metro the opposite way from Reagan-National, and you’ll soon come to the King Street station on the Yellow and Blue lines in Old Town Alexandria, a quaint historic district, not far from where I live now, with brick sidewalks, Georgian architecture, and lots of shops and restaurants, including the Revolutionary-era Gadsby’s Tavern. There’s a complimentary trolley that transports riders along King Street. And during March-December, the Potomac Water Taxi ferries passengers from the City of Alexandria Marina, a little more than mile from the King Street station, to:
- Georgetown, an upscale historic neighborhood in northwest Washington with brick sidewalks and lots of shops and restaurants, including Martin’s Tavern, where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier
- the Wharf, a new waterfront district in southwest Washington with frequent live music and lots of shops and seafood restaurants, a short walk from the International Spy Museum
- National Harbor, a fun area in Maryland with lots of shops and restaurants, an MGM casino, and an enormous ferris wheel
There are a few suitable hotels within walking distance of both the Marina and the King Street stop:
Lorien Hotel & Spa
This upscale IHG property is a three- to four-minute walk from the King Street station and a 15- to 20-minute walk from the Marina. It features modern rooms, a fabulous restaurant, and a complimentary daily wine hour.
Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town Duke Street
This extended-stay Marriott property is a four- to five-minute walk from the King Street Metro and a 15- to 20-minute walk from the Marina. It offers spacious suites with fully equipped kitchens and complimentary breakfast.
Hampton Inn Alexandria Old Town King Street Metro
This select-service Hilton property is a two- to three-minute walk from the King Street station and a 15- to 20-minute walk to the Marina. It has an outdoor pool and complimentary breakfast.
Washington, D.C., is a great city, and there’s lots of fun to be found in its suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria. I hope this post helps you find a spot to sleep that suits your style.
For two decades, I worked at political jobs. Then my parents got sick, and I went home to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s. And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices. I fought back the sorrow with travel, and started this blog. I believe that passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you. Welcome! Read more …