Home to beautiful neighborhoods and popular attractions, Washington, DC, is, without a doubt, worth visiting. Apart from that, it’s also a dream vacation for history buffs. With its rich past, stunning architecture, and scandals (both known and unknown), a trip to DC is a must. While the museums and monuments can offer plenty of knowledge for you, you should also consider staying at a historic hotel in DC! From the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer to the ones that have housed presidents, these hotels offer a slice of DC history to you! Keep reading to know more about them!
Table of contents
- Riggs Washington DC
- The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection
- Capital Hilton
- St. Regis Washington, DC
- Omni Shoreham Hotel
- Washington Hilton
- The Watergate Hotel Georgetown
- The Jefferson Hotel
- Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC
- Willard InterContinental Washington
- The Hay – Adams
- Recommended Bars/Restaurants in DC
- Recommended Things To Do in DC
Riggs Washington DC
Kicking off this list is the Riggs Washington, DC. No, it’s not the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any significant history. The hotel was originally built in 1891 as the Riggs Bank. Completed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the bank was made to handle the personal finances of many presidents in addition to the embassies in Washington.
After a complete renovation, the bank has been reinvented as a luxury hotel for modern travelers. The original banking hall that’s known for its high ceilings is now Cafe Riggs. The former board room is now home to the Riggs Suite. Additionally, this historic hotel in DC is also adored because of its strategic location. It’s only moments away from Chinatown Park, the National Mall, and other top things to do in Washington, DC.
The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection
Often referred to as the city’s “Second Best Address”, The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection is the largest luxury hotel in the city. Its doors have been open since 1925, and it has been giving travelers an unforgettable stay ever since. Decades of the city’s history are contained within the hotel’s walls. During its early days, it served as the setting for major events. Two weeks after the hotel began operating; it hosted the Inaugural Ball of President Calvin Coolidge.
In addition to that, J. Edgar Hoover, a longtime director of the FBI, had lunch at this hotel every working day from 1952 until he died in 1972. So, when you’re here, make sure to visit the hotel’s restaurant that offers innovative culinary explorations! Today, this gay-friendly hotel in Washington, DC is a landmark that brings timeless elegance and modern style.
Of course, you can’t talk about the historic hotel in DC without mentioning Capital Hilton. Only two blocks away from the White House, this hotel has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2014, and it dates back to 1943. Once it opened its doors, it quickly became one of the city’s most popular destinations. Many were awed by its state-of-the-art features.
Aside from that, it attracted many illustrious people as well, including politicians and celebrities. Some of the names that have stayed here include Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Fred Astaire. That’s not all, as the hotel also has hosted Inaugural Balls and presidential interviews. Speaking of which, this Washington DC hotel has also hosted presidential visits from every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
St. Regis Washington, DC
While St. Regis Washington, DC, isn’t the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer, it’s old enough that it has changed its name. The hotel was built in 1926 by Harry Wardman, and it was known as The Carlton at that time. Featuring Beaux Arts-style architectural design, the eight-story hotel, until today, is a great example of the popular architecture style following World War I.
Because of the Great Depression, the hotel had to be sold in 1930. It then functioned as office space for the White House during World War II and the Truman administration. In 1953, it was sold to Sheraton Hotels. At this time, the hotel was known as the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel. It closed in 1987, and after a year of extensive renovation, it opened in 1988 as the Carlton Hotel (again). Then in 1999, it was renamed St. Regis Washington, DC.
Omni Shoreham Hotel
Another historic hotel in DC worth considering is the Omni Shoreham Hotel, a registered Historic Hotel of America. Also called by many “The Omni,” it’s a site packed with plenty of history. It’s been a preferred hotel of celebrities and big names for over 50 years. The Beatles stayed here for a few days during the first US trip in 1964, making the hotel a sacred ground for international music history.
That’s not all, as the Rolling Stones also stayed at this hotel not long after. Apart from that, President John F. Kennedy was also said to take Jackie Onasis to the hotel’s Blue Room for dates before they got married. With so many prominent names spending their nights here, you should also do the same! Today, many stay here as the hotel offers fantastic amenities and an unbeatable location near the city’s main attractions.
One of the most popular hotels in the city is Washington Hilton. Constructed from 1962 to 1965, the hotel is known for its modern and innovative design. However, this historic hotel in DC is more than just an aesthetically pleasing building. Since its opening, it has played host to numerous US presidents and world leaders in its huge international ballroom.
What’s more, this hotel was also where John Hinckley, Jr. tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Today, it’s loved by many because of its location. This modern urban retreat is only steps away from some of DC’s top neighborhoods and attractions.
The Watergate Hotel Georgetown
Though The Watergate Hotel Georgetown isn’t the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer, it sure has plenty of history, including the bad ones. A stay at this hotel means you’ll be near the location of one of the most infamous burglaries in American history. It all began in 1972, when the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters, which were inside the Watergate complex, was ransacked and robbed. Because of that, President Richard M. Nixon had to step down from his position.
Throughout the years, this Georgetown hotel has been a hot spot that welcomes high-profile guests. A redesigned Watergate Hotel was then opened in 2016. Thankfully, it has fully embraced its history since then. There’s even a dedicated room called the Scandal Room, which was decorated with Watergate memorabilia. Now, a stay at this historic hotel in DC means you’ll get celebrity treatment and world-class service.
The Jefferson Hotel
Yep, you’re right! The Jefferson Hotel is a 95-room hotel that pays homage to the US’ third president, Thomas Jefferson. Situated in downtown Washington, this hotel is only four blocks away from the White House. Thanks to its perfect location, it has been a favorite among travelers since so many years ago. The hotel’s history dates back to 1923. At that time, the structure was used as a new residential building.
In 1955, the apartment was turned into a small historic hotel. It took two years for the apartment to be transformed into a hotel, adding plenty of elegant upgrades. Then, by 2009, the Jefferson was redesigned and became a renowned hotel that we all love and admire today. It resulted in the addition of Thomas Jefferson-related artifacts, which you can still find today. Also, did you know this historic hotel in DC is also named one of the most romantic hotels in Washington DC?
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC
No, Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Washington, DC, isn’t the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer. However, it is one of the most historically rich hotels! This historic hotel in DC is housed inside the city’s original General Post Office. The building was first operated as Blodgett’s Hotel in 1795, and it’s set in one of the city’s busiest areas. After there was an accidental fire, the building was made into the post office, which was relocated in 1897.
In 2002, the Hotel Monaco opened and maintained much of the building’s historical grandeur. Staying here means you’ll find numerous historical touches throughout the hotel. You can expect hanging globe scones, a five-foot-wide medallion of a lion’s head in most rooms, and many more. However, our favorite spot is the Dirty Habit, the perfect spot to grab a drink. Unlike the hotel’s classic design, this bar features a more futuristic, Gotham-like design.
Willard InterContinental Washington
Say hello to Willard InterContinental Washington, the oldest hotel Washington DC has to offer! Also known as “The Willard,” this historic hotel in DC was once a series of small houses on Pennsylvania Avenue. Built in the year 1818, the houses were then bought by Henry Willard in 1847. As you can guess from his name, he was the one who combined the houses and make them into a four-story hotel at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue.
At that point, the hotel was already historical. The hotel’s bar, Round Robin Bar, was where Henry Clay introduced the Mint Julep outside of Kentucky in 1830. Of course, the bar is still there today! On top of that, Abraham Lincoln also once stayed at the hotel for 10 days before his 1861 inauguration. Not to mention, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. finished making his “I Have a Dream” speech in the hotel’s lobby.
The Hay – Adams
On the top of our list is The Hay – Adams, a historic hotel in DC that’s named after Lincoln’s private assistant John Hay and historian Henry Adams. In the 19th century, both of them, along with their wives, owned Romanesque homes near Lafayette Square. Their homes were often used as gathering places for famous guests like Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain.
The hotel is now housed where the homes used to be, and it still has many historical details throughout. For instance, the famous Hay – Adams Room boasts wood paneling from the original Hay residence. Since its opening, the hotel has been a prominent landmark in Washington and attracting famed guests. Among them are Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Then, in 2001, this hotel underwent renovations, resulting in the addition of many modern and lavish amenities.
Recommended Bars/Restaurants in DC
- Old Ebbitt Grill – Founded in 1856, this restaurant is set near the White House. Its collection of antiques and memorabilia makes it a hot spot for journalists, celebrities, and theater-goers. Of course, it also has a wide collection of beer, wine, and cocktails to accompany your dinner.
- Cedar Knoll – Opened in 1975, this restaurant offers a mix of French and American cuisine in a historic atmosphere. Some of its most popular menus include the Pork Schnitzel, Local Oyster Stew, and Crab Cakes.
- Ben’s Chilli Bowl – Want a reason to visit this eaterie? Well, Duke Ellington, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Barack Obama have all been seen eating here! Everything, from its burgers to sandwiches and fries, is to die for!
Recommended Things To Do in DC
- Washington, DC: Big Bus Open-Top Panoramic Night Tour – Have fun discovering the city’s most famous landmarks from the comfort of an open-top double-decker bus! Don’t forget to bring your camera and enjoy this two-hour panoramic night tour!
- Washington DC: Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour – Together with a guide and fellow travelers, experience the sights of DC at night on this trolley tour! You’ll also learn about the amazing history of the nation’s capital.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Guided Tour – Visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which has the biggest natural history collection on Earth. You’ll have the chance to marvel at dinosaurs’ bones, shiny gemstones, spooky mummies, and more!