Willard Intercontinental Historic DC Hotel

Standing as a cradle of American history and culture, Washington DC is the place to be for any history buff. The Capitol Building, the National Mall, and an abundance of museums are more than enough to pique your curiosity.

13 Best Historic Hotels Washington DC

There are so many great historic places to stay in Washington DC. From hotels to inns, there is something for everyone who enjoys historic details. 

Some of the historic hotels below have housed multiple noteworthy politicians (including the late President Nixon!). That said, to make the decision much easier, we have selected a few of the best historic hotels in Washington DC, promising a step back in time enriched with the finest novelties. 

Let’s take a look at the the most famous old hotels in Washington DC. 

1. The Watergate Hotel – Most Scandalous History

Coming in as one of the best 5-star hotels in Washington DC, The Watergate Hotel will surely impress you with its array of modern amenities such the onsite hotel spa, and the Top Of The Gate rooftop bar. It also has large luxury suites that can accommodate families. The rooftop at the Watergate is also a very popular place to grab food and drink especially in the warmer weather. 

In addition to being a great luxury hotel, it is also one of the best hotels when it comes to historic significance. As you may already know, this hotel is famous for being the site of the Watergate scandal that happened during President Nixon’s time in office. 

Namely, The Watergate Hotel features the so-called ‘Scandal’ room (room 214) where E. Howard Hung and G.Gordon Liddy orchestrated the break-in at the DNC’s headquarters back in 1972. It was this historic event that ultimately leading to President Nixon’s resignation. The ‘Scandal’ room of this historic hotel in Washington DC has become a staple in pop culture. For $1,600 per night, you can stay in this exact room. Just keep the scandals to a minimum!

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: Farragut West Metrorail Station

2. The Line Hotel – Best Mix Of Modern Luxury & Historic Elements

At first glance, you may wonder why The Line Hotel is considered one of the finest historic hotels in Washington DC due to the contemporary interiors and numerous modern amenities, including fine-dining experiences and relaxing wellness services. Well, this hotel was built in a 110-year-old church, so despite its modern appeal, its historical allure is certainly unmatched.

The Line Hotel Entrance
The Line Hotel Entrance

You can immediately tell that this legendary hotel is historic due to the grand staircase leading up to its entrance. The public spaces here, including the hotel restaurant, are modern and comfortable. You can get a great mix of modern and historic here. 

Line Hotel Bar
Line Hotel Bar

Additionally, the Line Hotel is located in the Adams Morgan district of the capital, best known for its youthful scene and vibrant locales, so staying here will be the perfect blend of the past and present.

Line Hotel Lobby
Line Hotel Lobby

Star Rating: 4

Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle Metro Station

3. The Hay Adams – Best Views

The Hay Adams is not just another historic hotel in Washington DC, but one of the city’s landmarks! The hotel is named after its earliest residents: John Hay and Henry Adams. John Hay who was a private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and he later became Secretary of State. Henry Adams was an acclaimed author and descendant of U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Both of these famouse men lived in homes previously on the hotel’s current site.

Henry Adams’s home was particularly notable. After the death of his wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams, he commissioned the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a memorial to her, which can be found in Rock Creek Cemetery and is known as the Adams Memorial. After both Hay and Adams had died in the early 1900s, this hotel was sold and became the Brazilian embassy for a number of years.

In order to remain relevant and keep drawing the attention of celebrity guests and political dignitaries, the hotel had a a multi million dollar face lift in 2002. In 2011 a popular rooftop restaurant was added. This hotel has been meticulously restored with amenities of modern hospitality.

Many famous people have stayed here. Some well known figures include Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and even the Obamas. Some of the rooms offer views of the White House and the Washington Monument. 

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: Metro Center

4. The Riggs Hotel – Best Luxury Historic Hotel

If you’re looking for refined luxuries while still being immersed in the historical allure of DC, look no further than the Riggs Hotel! While today it’s one of the best 5-star hotels in Washington DC, in the past, it was home to the Riggs National Bank, more commonly known as the ‘Bank of Presidents’. 

As the years went by, this luxury property was crowned many times as the best hotel in the state and the entire country. The Riggs Hotel was even listed on the World’s Best Hotel list, coming in at #90! 

The Riggs Washington DC has been renovated so that it has all the comforts of a modern day hotel, while still preserving some historical elements. The soaring ceilings in the lobby and at Café Riggs remind you that this hotel use to be a grand financial institution. It is one of the best boutique hotels in the Downtown DC area and is the best luxury hotel in this area as well. 

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: Metro Center

5. Kimpton Hotel Monaco

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is a Washington DC hotel near museums, featuring elements of both the old and new. This establishment is ideal for travelers who want to collect experiences with an unquenching thirst for knowledge and history. As previously mentioned, some of the most iconic DC museums are practically a stone’s throw away, so after you explore them, you can unwind in the hotel’s comfortable rooms that also provide in-room dining! Simply put, if you’re looking for a truly historical experience, this 200-year-old historic hotel in Washington DC is not to be overlooked!

Star Rating: 4

Nearest Metro: Gallery Place Chinatown

6. Willard Intercontinental – Best Location

The iconic Willard Intercontinental Hotel is very close to the White House and is the heart of downtown Washington. It is one of the best historic hotels in Washington DC for many reasons.

This 5 star hotel has a very rich history. Before Abraham Lincoln was officially made president in 1860, he used his first paycheck to pay for his stay at this hotel. This historic hotel is also the place where Martin Luther King Jr. penned his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Another famous person to visit this hotel was Samuel Clemens, better know by his pen name of Mark Twain. During the late 19th century, this author would stay at the Willard Hotel and it is during this time that he wrote parts of his novel “The Gilded Age”. Due to his prominence as an author, Mark Twain’s visits often drew attention, and his stays at hotels like the Willard add to the hotel’s historic past.

When you stay here, don’t forget to visit the Round Robin Bar at this hotel. The bar claims a historic association with the mint julep, and legend has it that U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the Southern-style mint julep to Washington, D.C., at this hotel bar in the 19th century. It is unclear if this is completely historically accurate, but the hotel certainly embraces this part of its history. The Round Robin Bar continues to serve mint juleps, and visitors often order the drink there to partake in a piece of D.C.’s storied past.

For the inauguration in 2013, this architecturally grand, Beaux Arts-style hotel offered their Oval Suites which have views of Pennsylvania Avenue, to hold exclusive parties for viewing the parade. People didn’t need to be staying at the hotel to go to these events, but they did need to know someone who could get them on the guest list. 

Willard Intercontinental Historic DC Hotel
Willard Intercontinental Historic DC Hotel

Apart from the central location, this 200-year-old hotel has many modern amenities, including a concierge service for your kids! Additionally, the wellness center of the Willard shouldn’t be missed as they offer a vast array of rejuvenating treatments, ideal for a day after avid exploring!

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: Metro Center

7. Morrison Clark Inn – Best For Old Time Charm

Built in 1864 and noted in the National Register of Historic Places, the Morrison Clark Historic Inn is a haven for travelers who want to experience the intricacies of DC’s past. Although remodeled to include modern hospitality amenities, this historic hotel in Washington DC still has some of its original features like Carrera marble fireplaces and a vast range of antiquities. 

This beloved hotel once served as separate residences for two affluent families. Later, the property uniquely functioned as both a military boardinghouse and as well as a Chinese community church. Recognized for its historical value, the inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is one of the most historic hotels of America. 

The old-time charm of the establishment perfectly meshes with the sophisticated atmosphere, making the Morrison Clark Historic Inn one of the best places to stay in the US capital.

Star Rating: 3

Nearest Metro: McPherson Sq. Metro Station

8. The Mayflower – Famous For Being Campaign Central

Original and bold are just a few words to describe this historic place to stay in Washington DC. The Mayflower was opened back in 1925 and has welcomed its guests in timeless elegance and a contemporary style that has always kept up with the time. Eventually, the hotel became a recognizable landmark in the capital as it has completely redefined luxury experiences, providing a service that’s hard to forget. That said, allow yourselves to feel the Mayflower’s exceptional hospitality, one that has stood the test of time for over 100 years.

On two occasions, The Mayflower Hotel was the launch site for a U.S. presidential campaign. In March 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt was vying with Al Smith for the Democratic presidential nomination of 1932.

Star Rating: 4

Nearest Metro: Farragut West

9. The Waldorf Astoria – Most Luxurious Experience

The building that houses the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington, D.C., is historically significant because it use to be the Old Post Office and Clock Tower. This was originally constructed between 1892 and 1899. The building served as the main post office for Washington DC until 1914.

The building itself is an example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style with a prominent clock tower. It was actually one of the tallest structures in the nation’s capital at the time of completion. The Old Post Office and Clock Tower have been listed as historic sites on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.

Now the building is a luxury hotel. It has luxury hotel rooms along with a fine dining restaurant. Sushi Nakazawa is also located here and is one of the best sushi restaurants in Washington DC. The Federal Triangle Metro is located just outside. 

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: Federal Triangle Metro

10. The Jefferson

Looking for luxury draped in historical charm? Look no further than the Jefferson Hotel! This 5-star hotel in Washington DC was first a luxurious apartment block, all the way back in 1923. Then, in 1955, the establishment started welcoming guests into its premises, providing a stay in a highly elegant setting. Finally, its final ‘form’ was reached in 2009 and became a hotspot for the elite thanks to many amenities, such as a state-of-the-art kitchen, exceptional restaurants, opulent rooms and suites, and ultra-exclusive personalized service.

Star Rating: 5

Nearest Metro: McPherson Sq. Metro Station

11. The Phoenix Park Hotel

The Phoenix Park Hotel, formerly known as the Commodore, is one of the oldest hotels in the city, first opening its doors in the 1920s’. But although it’s steeped in American culture, don’t get too surprised if you get some hints of the Irish! Namely, the hotel was designed akin to Irish manors, and you can still feel some of these vibes to this day. After all, the hotel’s pub, The Dubliner, which is also the oldest-running Irish bar in the city, should tell you all there is to know!

Star Rating: 3

Nearest Metro: Judiciary Square

12. Washington Hilton

The Washington DC Hilton, often known as the Washington Hilton or Hilton Washington may be the most historic hotel in DC because of an event that happened here. The Washington Hilton was the site of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which was a very significant event in U.S. history.

The assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan happened on March 30, 1981. The President was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. after delivering a speech when he and three others were shot by a man named John Hinckley Jr.

Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and sustained serious injuries, which left him permanently disabled. D.C. Police Officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy were also injured but recovered. President Reagan was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off the limousine. Initially, it was not clear to him that he had been shot, but he experienced difficulty breathing and was quickly brought to George Washington University Hospital. He underwent emergency surgery and recovered fully.

In addition to the infamous assassination attempt, the hotel also traditionally hosts the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This is a widely publicized event attended that is attended by journalists, celebrities, and the President of the United States. The dinner is traditionally held at the Washington Hilton on the evening of the last Saturday in April of each year. 

Another famous person that was known to stay at the Washington Hilton is actress Audrey Hepburn. The actress was known to stay here during her visits to the nation’s capital for humanitarian causes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hepburn visited D.C. in her capacity as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for children’s issues. 

Star Rating: 4

Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle Metro

13. The Omni Shoreham

To close off our list of the best historic hotels in Washington DC is the spectacular Omni Shoreham Hotel. First opened in the 1930s, this hotel has become an icon in the capital’s history. Why? Well, The Omni Shoreham has hosted every presidential ball from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama! Boasting over 800 rooms equipped with cutting-edge technologies and luxurious furnishing, staying at this grand establishment will make you feel nothing short of presidential!

Star Rating: 4

Nearest Metro: Woodley Park / Adams Morgan

Best Historic Hotels Washington DC: Summary

The best historic hotels in Washington DC offer a unique stay in the nation’s capital. Washington DC is a hub of American history and culture. In addition to having many historic landmarks, it also has many hotels with historical significance. Popular places include The Watergate Hotel, famous for the Watergate Scandal, The Line Hotel which is a modern transformation of a 110-year-old church, and The Riggs Hotel which was once the ‘Bank of Presidents’. Other popular choices include the Morrison Clark Historic Inn, the Omni Shoreham, the Phoenix Park Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, and the The Mayflower. Whichever option you choose, history enthusiasts won’t be disappointed!

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