Washington D.C. on a Budget - Hotels

So you are thinking of visiting Washington D.C. but have heard how expensive it is to visit? The rumors are true however with a little forethought and this blog you can visit Washington D.C. and NOT break the bank. I traveled with my family in June of 2011 for 8 days which is not the cheapest time to visit, but school schedules did not allow cheaper travel dates. In this part of my blog I hope to help you find affordable lodging.
I began my search 6 months prior to my travel dates. I have 2 criteria when looking for a hotel: #1 clean and #2 safety of my family. After exhaustive searching and reading reviews I decided I could get the best deal in one of the outlying towns around DC. Yes, there are beautiful hotels in Washington D.C. however my family was on a budget and paying $300-$400 per night for a 3 star hotel was a bit steep. Hotels in D.C. that were more affordable left me worried about the safety of my family.
I looked at many options for lodging in cities around DC. I needed a hotel that was near a Metro station as my family would be travelling by subway.  Some areas you might want to consider include: Arlington, Alexandria, and Crystal City. I chose Old Town Alexandria Virginia and was glad I did. Old Town is very safe and is within walking distance from the King Street Metro Station. You have several hotels to choose from including, Embassy Suites, Hilton, Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, etc. The hotels that face the Metro Station (Embassy & Hilton) are about $50-$75 per night more expensive than those off the main street. I was lucky to find the Residence Inn on Duke Street about 2 blocks from the Metro. It was a perfect solution for my family. The price was affordable (based on DC prices), the hotel was extremely clean, and I felt safe in the neighborhood. It was a win win win situation!

Listed below are the reasons you should choose Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria:

  1. Residence Inn Old Town was extremely clean. All areas, room, indoor pool, hearth room, etc. were impeccably clean. The staff does a phenomenal job of keeping the hotel in tip top shape.

  2. The hotel was in a safe part of town. We arrived at midnight and had to walk 2 blocks from the Metro and we did not feel the least bit unsafe.

  3. The price was right. When I originally booked the hotel 5 months prior to travel dates I received a discount of about $9/nt because I am a teacher which made the room $211/nt. We were spending 8 nights and I wanted the best possible deal so I chose to have the option of cancelling the reservation up until the day before check in. Boy, am I glad I did! Over the next 5 months prior to travel I searched high and low for a hotel that would be less expensive but still adhere to my cleanliness and safety requirements. Needless to say, I did not find such a hotel within my budget. However, 2 weeks prior to travel dates I checked the Marriott web page and discovered Residence Inn Old Town was offering a weekend special that made the room $129/nt Thursday-Sunday. I called Marriott and a great rep was able to help me change my reservation. That one phone call saved me a couple hundred dollars! Yippee! I guess the moral of that story is to be sure and check back at your hotel website to see if a better deal can be found closer to check in time.

  4. Great FREE breakfast and evening social light meal. The best free breakfast I have experienced at a hotel. Every morning you have the option of a variety of breakfast options that alternate daily including: waffles, eggs, sausage, ham, biscuits, gravy, pancakes, bagles, pastries, fruit, yogurt, cereal, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, and juices. During the evening hours Monday - Thursday from 5:30 -7:00 PM a FREE light meal is served. Each night a different meal is served. For example one night stuffed peppers, mashed potatoes, and salad was served. In addition every night during the social you get 2 FREE Budweiser, Bud Light, OR wine per room. There is also Pepsi fountain drinks and tea available included. This really saved us ALOT of money as food is unbelievably expensive in and around DC. For example, the average meal price at lunch at a sit down restaurant is $22/ person and dinner is even more expensive.

  5. Full size kitchen in all rooms. It was nice to have a full size refrigerator, cooktop, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and microwave in our room. We were able to eat in the room 2 nights during the weekend thereby saving money. Note: Whole Foods grocery store is 1/2 block down Duke Street and is a great place to purchase items to stock the fridge. Pizza Hut and Dominos delivers to this hotel. We used Pizza Hut delivery one night and had the left overs the next night. We stayed in the smallest suite which was the studio. They also have available 1 and 2 bedroom suites if your family is larger than mine. The studio was very much like having your own efficiency apartment making it really feel like a home away from home.

  6. Close to shopping and entertainment in Old Town Alexandria. (See my other blogs for more information about touring Old Town.)

  7. Close to the King Street Metro Station. We cut through the courtyard of the Embassy Suites hotel and were able to make it to the Metro in about a 5-7 minute walk. We decided NOT to rent a car as parking is a premium in all of the DC area including Old Town. The Residence Inn charges $18/nt to park your car. However, I was told you could park your car during the weekends for FREE along the street in front and behind the hotel. If you have the option of bringing a car I would recommend NOT having a car. Driving is difficult in and around DC from all I have heard from locals ect. The Metro system is a great way to travel. (See my other blogs for more info.)

  8. You are 2 stops down the Metro line from Reagan International Airport. If you are flying to DC you definitely want to fly into Reagan if you are staying in Old Town.