Travel | August 12, 2022 7:04 am

DC’s 5 Most Notorious Hotels

From former political haunts to the really haunted

Watergate building in Washington DC
Watergate building in Washington DC
Phototreat via Getty

DC has an excess of history and an excess of hotels. For better or worse (usually worse), basically all of DC’s many, many, many hotels have a weird historical quirk. Seriously: There are a lot of hotels in DC, and all of them built before 1990 have a ton of history. If you want to sleep where Lincoln pondered whether or not this experiment was/is worth the effort, just go to the Willard and feel like the best POTUS possible. End of list. 

But the slightly less Lincoln-centric hotels of DC will provide a much more interesting history lesson. Here are five DC hotels with a history interesting enough for at least a one-night stay. 

The Watergate

Foggy Bottom, rooms from $299

Obviously. The name of the hotel has become a shorthand for political scandal. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in a monument to the biggest political scandal from the past 50 years that didn’t include a violent insurrection? Also, you could teach the young people in your life about surveillance without involving a single smartphone. Throwback! 

If you are visiting and/or seeing a show at The Kennedy Center, you cannot find a better location. It’s a block away, and the love JFK still receives would really, really piss off Nixon. 

Waldorf Astoria Washington DC

Downtown, rooms from $690

We’re sticking with the dark side of DC — but we’re getting modern! The recently renamed Trump International Hotel was a place of protest for the 94.6 percent of DC residents who did not vote for the hotel’s former namesake in the most recent presidential election. But now it’s not named after a previous president, and José Andrés is once again involved.

If you’re looking for a five-star hotel located between The White House and Capitol Building that was the location of about 20 times more scandals than The Watergate and was the former Nation’s Old Post Office, consider the Waldorf! 

Hotel Washington

Downtown, from $260

It’s difficult to avoid politics when considering a historic DC hotel. So how about a hotel that caters to both sides, at least when it comes to poultry? The Hotel Washington, recently renamed from W Washington DC, is home to the turkeys that are pardoned every year at Thanksgiving. 

Every year before their big day, the pardoned turkeys get a massive suite, wrapped in so much plastic it looks like an American Psycho set. Conveniently located across the street from the Treasury Department, which is next door to the White House, Hotel Washington is as close as you can stay to the White House without staying in the White House. 

If you have any time to visit the rooftop bar, do it at night. It has one of the best views of the Washington Monument. 

Omni Shoreham Hotel

Woodley Park, from $180

A few miles from the National Mall, the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park is a massive hotel with enough political history to warrant interest. But it’s The Beatles’ stay that helps put it on this list. To commemorate this historic 1964 visit, there’s a tiny shrine to the Mop Tops’ stay near the rental car office. Guess what you might want when you visit the Nation’s Capital? A rental car! Why not look at some photos of men who drove on the wrong side of the road while you wait for your car? Also, FDR had his first inaugural ball there. I guess that’s more interesting than a band’s tour stop. 

Oh, and some people think it’s haunted.

The Line Hotel

Adams Morgan, from $189

There’s no shortage of hotels infamous for presidents and politicians in and around DC. But there are some hotels whose history is more “normal” — or at least apolitical. One such hotel is Adams Morgan’s The Line. The boutique hotel opened in 2017 after years and years of construction and curiosity from locals. A hotel opening typically doesn’t cause a big stir — but this 1912 building was repurposed from the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Is it blasphemous to open a hotel on the site of a church? Or does it make sense to repurpose a building that sat dormant for nearly 25 years? Whatever you decide is between you and your god.