Washington, D.C. attractions on the National Mall are not only engrossing and educational, they are also free. The Smithsonian museums, the monuments, even a tour of the White House, are paid for by your federal taxes. After a day of museum and monument touring, you don't want to be far from your hotel, and you won't have to be; many hotels are within walking distance of the Mall.
L'Enfant Plaza Hotel
The L'Enfant Plaza Hotel is named for Pierre L'Enfant, the Frenchman who designed this city. Fittingly, the hotel that bears his name overlooks some of the monuments and museums on the Mall. The hotel is fashionable and sophisticated, in a down-to-business Washington way, and the Mall is two blocks away. A rooftop pool offers a view of the Potomac River and the city at night. The hotel is directly atop the L'Enfant Plaza subway station, and 15 minutes by car from Ronald Reagan National Airport.
The boutique Hotel Monaco is half a mile from the Mall. This thoroughly modern, striking hotel is set in the original Post Office Building, which is all white marble and a registered National Landmark. The stately facade (you'll think you're entering the White House) yields to a playful interior, with chandeliers, a colorful lobby, library and public areas, a vibrant brasserie and bar, a Chef's Table for solo travelers, and rooms or suites that are a mix of elegant and bold contemporary.
Courtyard Washington Convention Center
Marriott's Courtyard Washington Convention Center hotel is a mid-range alternative that is less than half a mile from the Mall. Outside, the hotel is somewhat ornate and traditional; the building used to house Riggs Bank. Inside, the decor is clean, efficient and modern. A home theater sits off to one side of the two-story lobby. The hotel has an indoor pool, a marketplace for snacks and drinks, a restaurant and business center. A piece of the past survives in the door to the bank vault, which was saved in the transformation.
The Willard InterContinental calls itself "America's Hotel,'' but it aims at a very high-end clientele, and it has been at the center of social life in Washington for generations. Here you rub elbows with Washington's movers and shakers, and possibly heads of state, only a stone's throw from the White House and the Mall. The lobby is palace-like, sophisticated, luxurious, a place to see and be seen. Take afternoon tea in red-carpeted Peacock Alley and see how many power brokers you can name as they saunter by. The hotel is also the site of the Occidental Grill and Seafood restaurant, a power lunch and dinner spot for those with expense accounts, and Cafe du Parc, with a French flavor.
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