Washington DC is perhaps the gayest place in America, housing one of the most diverse LGBTQ populations in the United States. If you thought queer tourism in stiff DC could be daunting, think again! There is not one but many gay areas in Washington DC. Some of the most visible LGBTQ communities are in Adams-Morgan and Dupont Circle, where rainbow flags fly high. Here, you will find tons of gay hotels in Washington DC catering to every kind of traveler. Here’s also where you will find the most diverse of gay Washington DC bars.
Washington DC might be steeped in American history and politics, but it also happens to be an equally formidable gay capital! Washington DC’s annual, four-day-long Capital Pride is one of the country’s largest Pride celebrations. A big part of Capital Pride is the DC Black Pride, connecting LGBTQ African-Americans. The city also celebrates the Capital Trans-Pride, Rainbow Families, an annual picnic for LGBTQ families, Youth Pride Day, and the extremely popular Miss Adams Morgan Pageant, a must-see drag beauty pageant. In fact, Washington DC rivals cities such as San Francisco, Miami, and New York City in terms of being gay friendly.
While there are plenty of gay hotels in Washington DC, many gay travelers prefer to stay in and around Adams-Morgan and Dupont Circle since the gay scene is right there. We have picked out the top 11 gay friendly hotels in Washington DC for making your gay stay in the capital city a great one.
Embassy Row Hotel
Half a block away from Dupont Circle lies the Embassy Row Hotel, a hidden gem of sorts in Dupont Circle. Featuring the only rooftop and rooftop pool in Dupont Circle, the LGBT-friendly Washington DC hotel features modern rooms with a touch of the Washington sophistication. This “lifestyle” hotel also boasts of indulgent in-room spa treatments, which can be a great end to the day for you and your partner. Before heading out to DC’s gay scene, sipping on a drink while taking in amazing views of the capital at the rooftop pool & bar is a must.
However, what gay travelers will truly love about Embassy Row Hotel is its fantastic location. JR’s, Washington DC’s oldest gay bar, is a 10-minute walk. The gay friendly speakeasy Dito’s in the basement of the Italian restaurant Floriana’s is a 10-minute walk away as well. For the more intrepid ones, the gay club Green Lantern is about a mile from Embassy Row Hotel. Here, shirtless guys are appreciated, and underwear nights rule the roost. For the bibliophiles, we recommend the Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, a landmark indie bookstore with a fantastic LGBTQ section.
Dupont Circle Hotel
The Dupont Circle Hotel lies right at Dupont Circle, right next to the landmark independent bookstore Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. The LGBTQ friendly Hotel happens to be one of the most luxurious gay hotels in Washington DC at Dupont Circle. Don’t be fooled by its 1940s exterior – the interiors are warm, stylish, and one of the best examples of Irish hospitality.
Catch a drink at the hotel’s chic mid-century bar Doyle, before heading out to what are some of the best gay bars in Washington DC. The kitschy lesbian-friendly bar A League of Her Own is a 15-minute walk north from Dupont Circle Hotel.
Due to the hotel’s proximity to Dupont Circle Station, we’d recommend that you don’t miss doing this exclusive walking tour of the US Capitol Building. In fact, the meeting point of the tour happens to be Union Station itself, a mere 12-minute ride from Dupont Station.
Proudly underlining its gay friendly policy is The Darcy, located right midway between Dupont Circle and the hip Logan Circle. Rooms at the Darcy are well-designed and modern chic and feature every level of contemporary comfort. Staying at the Darcy is great for gay travelers as it lies on the path of the Capital Pride parade. The hotel is also within walking distance of some of the best gay Washington DC bars and cruising clubs. Number Nine, which also has a video bar and is a great place for meeting local gays.
Darcy’s is also a great hotel to stay at if you want to soak in some American history and culture. The National Geographic Museum is a 7-minute walk, while Lafayette Square and the White House is just 10 minutes away. If you’ve seen enough during the day, why not go off-the-beaten-path and do this excellent night tour of Washington DC’s monuments and memorials? This brilliant tour places the monuments in a different light under the cover of darkness.
Kimpton Hotel Palomar
From the able super-gay-friendly stable of the Kimpton brand comes the handsomely-designed, sleek Palomar DC, one of the 13 properties by the Kimpton brand in the city. One of the most stylish gay hotels in Washington DC, the Palomar DC lies a block from Dupont’s Circle and the very best of gay Washington DC bars and cruising clubs. The gay bar Fireplace is right next door, while the other gay bars and saunas are a 10-minute walk away.
Rooms at the Palomar DC inspire vitality with their bold designs and colors. If you have a guest over, there’s even 24-hour room service. Take advantage of the gorgeous Fuji soaking tubs in the hotel and enjoy a swim in the heated outdoor pool.
Kimpton Rouge Hotel
The Kimpton Rouge Hotel from the extremely gay friendly Kimpton brand lies in the heart of the gay area in Washington DC, midway between Dupont and Logan Circles. Its rooms are decked out in bold red-colored schemes, complete with modern and handy additions. Gays traveling for business and pleasure will both love this hotel for its proximity to what are some of the best gay Washington DC bars, cruising clubs, and saunas. DC gay scene staples including the DIK Bar are all within a 10-minute walking distance. If you fancy a soak, the superb gay sauna of The Crew Club is just 10 minutes away.
One of the best things about the Rouge hotel’s location is also that it is very close to some of Washington’s best sights and attractions. Lafayette Square is just 15 minutes south of the hotel. Many other major attractions such as the Smithsonian, Freedom Square, Ford’s Theatre, and the National Building Museum are all within 20-30-minute walking distances from the hotel as well. If you want to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing in the little time that you have, this wonderful half-day DC landmarks tour is probably the best one.
The Carlyle Dupont Circle
Perfectly fitting in with Dupont Circle’s gay scene is The Carlye Dupont, a happening and elegant gay-friendly hotel located four blocks away from Dupont Circle. Rooms are modern-comfy, and the in-room spa services are highly recommended. The charming art-deco hotel is one of the best located gay hotels in Washington, DC since its just a short walk from the popular gay Washington DC bars of Dupont Circle.
However, Carlyle’s location is also a peaceful and tranquil one, which is great for walking around. Foodies will love the cluster of ethnic restaurants in Adams-Morgan, the other gay area of Washington DC just 10 minutes north of the Carlyle. In fact, Dupont Circle has an interesting food history as well. For ardent food enthusiasts, we highly recommend this 3-hour food tour of the cosmopolitan area that is Dupont Circle.
The Carlyle is also just a 20-minute walking distance from the cluster of great gay Washington DC bars on Florida Avenue in Cardozo. These include DC’s oldest sports bar Nellie’s Sports Bar as well as the chic gay hangout of The Dirty Goose. Interestingly, just down the street from Nellie’s is Ben’s Chilli Bowl, the starting point for this lip-smacking food tour of the U-Street and Shaw neighborhoods, a must-do whether you’re a foodie or a non-foodie!
Swann House B&B
If you’re looking for some luxurious romance in the capital city, stay at one of the most intimate and romantic hideaways in Washington DC – the Swann House B&B. Housed in a regal Queen Anne Victorian inn, the luxury gay inn has been a favorite in the LGBTQ community and has even hosted numerous weddings. The rooms are lavish, and some even have whirlpool tubs. After a warm DC day, there’s nothing better than cooling it off in the lovely outdoor swimming pool, which is also a great place to hang out with fellow gay travelers.
The Swann House B&B is just five blocks north of Dupont Circle. It is within walking distance of all of the great gay Washington DC bars in and around Dupont Circle and Logan Circle. If you don’t wish to venture far, the unpretentious gay bar Larry’s Lounge is just a five-minute walk from Swann House. The B&B’s brilliant location also places it close to the cluster of gay bars in Cardozo such as The Dirty Goose. Lesbians should check out the offbeat but fun A League of Her Own, a 10-minute walk from Swann House.
If you wish to take your luxury romantic holiday in Washington DC a step further, nothing works better than this superb dinner cruise aboard the Odyssey. We guarantee that the delectable three-course meal and the spectacular sight of a lit-up Washington at night is something you won’t forget so easily.
Gay travelers looking for a good value Kimpton-brand hotel should consider the Topaz, which is also the first Kimpton property on the East Coast. Housed in a 60s apartment complex, the gay friendly Topaz lies a block away from Dupont Circle, one of the most vibrant gay neighborhoods in Washington DC. Rooms and decor at the Topaz are quite spacious, and loaner bicycles and daily wine are part of the stay, making the hotel a great value one. However, the hotel does lack amenities such as a swimming pool. So, travelers requiring those will need to look at other Kimpton properties such as the Palomar DC.
Kimpton Topaz’s location close to Dupont Circle, the gay area of Washington DC, puts it within walking distance of all of its gay establishments. The fantastic gay sauna of The Crew Club is also 10 minutes away. Lafayette Square and the White House are a 15-minute walk from Kimpton Topaz.
St. Gregory Hotel
For all those LGBTQ people who are in love with Marilyn Monroe – this one’s for you. An incredibly life-like lifesize statue of Marilyn Monroe in her most famous, signature pose greets you as you walk into the St. Gregory Hotel, which is basically an ode to her. Located four blocks from Dupont Circle, the hotel features huge rooms and kitschy decor, making it a great value-for-money choice. The gay area of Washington DC, Dupont Circle and its gay bars are within a 10-minute walking distance of St. Gregory Hotel.
What’s more, the hotel even has a “Guide to Capital Pride” listed on the hotel blog! Clearly, the funky boutique St. Gregory Hotel is one of those gay hotels in Washington DC that goes out of its way to support LGBTQ travelers.
Kimpton Hotel Madera
For a frill-full gay stay in the gay area of Washington DC Dupont Circle, look to Hotel Madera from the Kimpton brand. Nestled on a tree-lined boulevard a block away from Dupont Circle, the well-priced hotel features spacious rooms with free yoga mats in each of them. Hotel Madera is particularly great on free perks – daily wine, gourmet tea/coffee, and late-night cookies and milk for revelers walking in after an evening of partying away.
What’s more, the Hotel Madera’s location at Dupont Circle places it within walking distance of some great gay bars, cruising clubs, and saunas near Dupont Circle. Those looking for exotic dancers and gay themed parties will love the Green Lantern, a 20-minute walk away. The closest Washington DC attractions of Lafayette Square and the White House are a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
The Mayflower Hotel
If you want to make your gay stay in Washington DC truly memorable, stay at the fabulous Mayflower Hotel. Its location right across from the White House has also led to it being known as the “White House Hotel”. Having once seen presidents and kings as guests, the Mayflower is one of the most historic gay hotels in Washington DC. It also happens to be TAG-approved and super LGBTQ friendly! You will love the rooms at the Mayflower, where the wallpapers feature actual signatures of numerous famous people who stayed at the hotel over the years.
Did you know that Mayflower is also where one of Washington DC’s highest-rated comedy magic shows take place? If you want to see a fantastic bit of magic and mind-reading, this show is definitely worth checking out!
What also makes the Mayflower so popular with gay travelers is its walking distance from the gay bars at DuPont and some of Washington’s best attractions. The gay area of Washington DC Dupont Circle and its gay scene are just eight minutes walking northward. Apart from the White House, the Mayflower is within walking distance of the National Geographic Museum, National Mall and all of its landmarks, and the Washington Monument. In fact, this cluster of monuments is amongst the top things to see in Washington DC.
Just So You Know:
- Washington DC has more than just one Pride celebration. Apart from the Capital Pride, there’s also the DC Black Pride uniting African-American LGBTQ people. What’s more, there’s a Youth Pride and a Trans Pride parade as well!
- Do pop into Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, a wonderful indie bookstore that’s been around for a long time and has an extensive and robust LGBTQ section.
Get Some Culture in Washington DC:
- Capital Pride: One of the biggest and largest Pride celebrations in the United States, Capital Pride is an annual four-day-long extravaganza in Washington DC. Events include a parade, an equality march right in front of Capitol Hill, a road race, a high-profile concert, and a festival and block party, among others.
- Annual Cherry Party: Organized by the not-for-profit Cherry Fund, the Annual Cherry Party is one of the longest-running LGTBQ dance music festivals in the country. It’s also a great place to get all glammed up and meet exciting new people!
- Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend: For all those LGBTQ+ people with a leather fetish, the Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend is where you need to be! The weekend soiree features everything from brunches and themed dance parties to the extremely popular Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather contest.
- 17th Street High Heel Drag Race: This highly popular and anticipated pre-Halloween event takes place on 17th Street in the gay area of Washington DC – Dupont Circle. It sees the drag queens of Washington DC get dolled up in their most amazing outfits.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Washington DC:
- A League of Her Own: Calling itself a safe space for queer women, A League of Her Own features an earthy, industrial ambiance. It also has video games, TVs, a foosball table, and a pool table.
- JR’s. Located right in the heart of gay-town, this longtime gay-favorite bar is great for a casual cocktail. The place even does drag-themed trivia on Wednesday nights and Retro Fridays too.
- Dito’s: Located in the basement of the Italian restaurant Floriana, the gay bar Dito’s exudes a classic speakeasy feel.
- Nellie’s Sports Bar– DC’s oldest and first gay sports bar might be located a little out of the way of the gay scene, but still remains extremely popular. Nellie’s features big-screen TVs, an outdoor patio, drag bingo, drag luck buffets, and summers-on-the-roof.
- Green Lantern – If you’re into exotic dancers and themed underwear parties, this is the perfect gay bar for you. On Thursdays, they even have “shirtless-guys-drink-free” offers and many more!
- DIK Bar: DIK Bar, sometimes lovingly referred to as Windows, is a hit with the older crowd and their admirers. Karaoke evenings make for a fun time.
- Fireplace: This neighborhood institution is a cozy place around a real fireplace. And yes, it attracts a fantastic gay crowd.
- The Dirty Goose: Upscale chic LGBTQ+ hangout.
Best Gay Saunas in Washington DC:
- The Crew Club – One of the longest-running, best, and cleanest gay saunas and bathhouses in Washington DC. The place offers some steamy guy-on-guy workout and cardio equipment. It even has a Maze steam room, a Finnish sauna, gang showers, and a hydro-massage bed.