Best Historic Hotel: The Willard InterContinental (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; tel. 800/827-1747 or 202/628-9100; www.washington.interconti.com) celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2006, as the "new" 12-story Willard, replacing the original, smaller "City Hotel" that existed here between 1816 and 1906. Whether known as the City or the Willard, the hotel has hosted nearly every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853, including 2 presidents who lived here for a time -- Lincoln in 1861 and Calvin Coolidge in 1923. Pres. Ulysses S. Grant liked to unwind with cigar and brandy in the Willard lobby, after a hard day in the Oval Office, while literary luminaries, like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, used to hang out in the Round Robin bar. The hotel continues to draw political, society, business, and cultural icons today.
Best Location: Three contenders in three different locations win this category: For a true heart-of-the-city experience, the Hotel Monaco (700 F St. NW; tel. 800/649-1202 or 202/628-7177; www.monaco-dc.com) can't be beat. The hotel lies halfway between the White House and Capitol Hill, across the street from the MCI Center and two Smithsonian museums, and in the middle of a neighborhood known for its many restaurants, shops, and clubs. If you desire proximity to the White House, no hotel gets closer than the Hay-Adams (16th and H streets NW; tel. 800/853-6807 or 202/638-6600; www.hayadams.com), right across Lafayette Square from the Executive Mansion. And if you'd like to be within walking distance of both Capitol Hill and the National Mall, the Capitol Hill Suites (200 C St. SE; tel. 800/424-9165 or 202/543-6000; www.capitolhillsuites.com) gets my vote. The only hotel truly on "the Hill," it's in a pretty neighborhood around the corner from a row of eateries and bars.
Best Trendy Hotel: Without a doubt, Washington's trendiest hotels are the six operated by the Kimpton Hotel Group, ranging from the fun and funky Hotel Helix (1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW; tel. 866/508-0658 or 202/462-9001; www.hotelhelix.com), with its platform beds, neon colors, and flatscreen TVs, to the effervescent and lovely Hotel Monaco, museum-like on the outside, surprising touches on the inside, such as complimentary goldfish at check in. Other Kimpton properties include the Hotel Rouge (1315 16th St. NW; tel. 800/368-5689 or 202/232-8000; www.rougehotel.com), the Topaz Hotel (1733 N St. NW; tel. 800/424-2950 or 202/393-3000; www.topazhotel.com), the Hotel George (15 E St. NW; tel. 800/576-8331 or 202/347-4200; www.hotelgeorge.com), and the Hotel Madera (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW; tel. 800/368-5691 or 202/296-7600; www.hotelmadera.com).
Best Place for a Romantic Getaway: The posh Jefferson Hotel (1200 16th St. NW; tel. 800/368-5966, 866/270-8118, or 202/347-2200; www.thejeffersonwashingtondc.com) is just enough off the beaten track, but still conveniently downtown, to make you feel like you've really escaped. Because the service, bar, and restaurant are outstanding, you have no need to leave the premises. The restaurant is tiny with a nook or two tucking tables out of sight for intimate tête-à-têtes.
Best Washington Insider Hotel: The Willard wins again. This is where the term "lobbyists" came into being, after all. When Pres. Ulysses S. Grant enjoyed a brandy in the Willard lobby, he was often besieged by politicians and businessmen, clamoring for his attention -- "lobbyists," Grant called them. Lobbyists still come and go here, as do high-ranking government officials, television news anchors, and visiting heads of state. Be sure to duck your head into the Round Robin bar, as well as the Willard dining room.
Best Inexpensive Hotel: The boutique Jurys Normandy Inn (2118 Wyoming Ave. NW; tel. 800/424-3729 or 202/483-1350; www.jurysdoyle.com) charges $89 to $185 for personable service and rooms that are small but charming. Extras like an exercise room, a pool, and a restaurant are available at its sister hotel around the corner.
Slideshow: Dreaming of D.C
Best Service:The staff at both The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., (1150 22nd St. NW; tel. 800/241-3333 or 202/835-0500) and The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (3100 South St. NW; tel. 800/241-3333 or 202/912-4100; www.ritzcarlton.com) are engaging but not overbearing, offering quick and solicitous service, whether you've ordered a glass of wine in the lounge or room service. At both Ritzes, a technology butler is always on-call to handle your high-wired needs. Likewise, the Four Seasons (2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; tel. 800/332-3442 or 202/342-0444; www.fourseasons.com) pampers you relentlessly and greets you by name. The hotel also offers an "I Need It Now" program that delivers any of 100 or more left-at-home essentials (tweezers, batteries, cuff links, electric hair curlers, and so on) to you in 3 minutes, at no cost. And finally, there's the Mandarin Oriental (1330 Maryland Ave. SW; tel. 866/526-6567 or 202/554-8588; www.mandarinoriental.com/washington), where staffers speak in hushed tones, almost bowing; the spa features something called an amethyst steam room; and the very design of the hotel follows the principles of feng shui, the better to attract good fortune.
Best Health Club: The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.,has the best fitness center in the city. Its two-level, 100,000-square-foot Sports Club/LA boasts state-of-the-art weight-training equipment and free weights, two regulation-size basketball courts and four squash courts, an indoor heated swimming pool and aquatics pool with sun deck, exercise classes, personal trainers, the full-service Splash Spa and Roche Salon, and its own restaurant and cafe.
Best Views: The Hay-Adams has such a great, unobstructed view of the White House that the Secret Service comes over regularly to do security sweeps of the place. Ask for a room on the H Street side of the hotel, on floors six through eight.
Best for Travelers with Disabilities: The Omni Shoreham Hotel (2500 Calvert St. NW; tel. 800/843-6664 or 202/234-0700; www.omnishorehamhotel.com) has 41 specially equipped rooms for guests with disabilities, about half with roll-in showers; vibrating door knockers and pillows, TTYs, and flashing lights to alert guests when fire alarms are sounding (all of these devices are available, but you must ask for them); and the hotel carries copies of disabilityguide.org's Access Entertainment guide, which offers detailed information about how to travel around and enjoy D.C., if you have limited mobility.
For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed accommodations, visit our online hotels index.
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