Washington, DC, is loaded with monuments, museums, white columns, and neoclassical architecture. It’s also home to some of the country’s best and most beautiful hotels. Whether you’re coming to Washington, DC, for work, vacation, or you’re a local coordinating a place for out-of-town guests to stay, this list of eight of the coolest hotels in our nation’s capital is for you. It covers a wide range of styles and a wide range of budgets and I think there’s something everyone would love in each of these hotels. Because the District is best experienced on foot and so full of hitstorical structures and charm, I’ve also included neighborhood attractions when discussing the hotels.
So without further ado, and in alphabetical order, here are eight of the coolest hotels in DC that you'll love to Instagram.
The Avery Georgetown
The Avery Georgetown feels a bit more like a bed and breakfast than a hotel. Its 15 unique guest rooms and suites span several interconnected row houses in Georgetown’s East Village. The Avery Georgetown bills itself as “the first luxury boutique inn” in Washington, DC. And added bonus, if you like to shop local, is that the Avery Georgetown is locally owned and operated.
Georgetown’s East Village is a beautiful location and makes it easy to walk to Dupont Circle, Georgetown shopping, amazing cupcakes at Baked & Wired, Georgetown University, the George Washington University, The Kennedy Center, and Georgetown’s waterfront park. All these are within a 10-minute walk yet the Avery Georgetown feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The hotel’s overall palette feels fresh and vibrant.
Each room features colorful wallpaper and patterned fabrics with minimal, modern furniture and accents.
Bathrooms are minimal yet dramatic — totally selfie-ready.
Common spaces feature a mix of historical and modern elements.
Patios are furnished with funky outdoor furniture.
All of the surrounding East Village neighborhood is loaded with charm and 100% Instagrammable.
Canopy by Hilton
Most locals stick to a 10-block radius for all their essentials—favorite coffee shop and bookstore, restaurant and watering hole. For tourists and business travelers staying in an unfamiliar city and in search of authenticity, these neighborhood spots are highly sought after, but hard to come by. Now, however, visitors to Canopy by Hilton—a hotel brand that’s developed to become an extension of the local neighborhood—in Washington, D.C.’s The Wharf… don’t have to fret about being confined to the tourist traps. With the help of [an insider]… with impeccable taste and boundless enthusiasm, we developed a guide to the hidden gems...
The hotel’s dramatic lobby staircase.
The soaring common spaces off the lobby with bright colors and killer views of the Potomac River.
An artfully landscaped terrace on the lobby level with landscaping that’s to die for, three walls of reflective high-rise glass, and views of boats and pedestrians on the boardwalk below.
The views from Whiskey Charlie, the rooftop bar, where you can see the Capitol dome, planes taking of and landing from National Airport, plus sunrises and sunsets, while having a cocktail.
The Wharf was designed with Instagram in mind (I’m not kidding)—giant swings, fire pits for s’mores, angular modern architecture, and interesting lighting galore. There are always events like the annual Running of the Chihuahuas, and concerts every night at multiple music venues, large and small.
The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Hirshhorn, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the National Mall, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the newly relocated, bespoke International Spy Museum.
A 5-minute walk along the river from the hotel, the Municipal Fish Market is the nation’s oldest continuously operating open-air fish market. It’s also tons of fun, very photogenic, and great for people watching. You can check out some of my photos of the fish market in this blog post and this article I shot for the Washington Post about local celebrity chef Tobias Dorzon.
Last year, just before the hotel opened to the public I shot a round of photos for Eaton and TAA PR. The interiors (designed by Parts and Labor Design and Gachot Studios) have a vintage vibe but still feel very current. The public spaces are very obviously designed and meticulously curated but they never overwhelm or feel like they’re trying too hard. Because Eaton has an ambitious and sprawling mission I’m going to quote from their website—they’ve said it better than I ever could:
Eaton DC pioneers an interdisciplinary hotel experience to travelers seeking inspiration, innovation and impact. We set the stage for residing guests, locals and house members to congregate around creativity and consciousness-building. Eaton Hotel offers provocative content and programming, social and creative incubators, as well as a radical approach to food and beverage, wellness and the arts.
With a remarkably central location in town, Eaton is a great choice for business travelers (it’s 3.5 blocks from the convention center) and vacationers, alike.
Basically every square inch of the hotel’s coffee shop, Kintsugi.
Basically every square inch of the hotel’s speakeasy-style bar, Allegory.
Wild Days, the rooftop bar/entertainment venue has a lush greenhouse vibe indoors and an expansive outdoor terrace with great views.
The main staircase in the lobby.
If you’re staying the night you’ll swoon over the tile and fixtures in your bathroom.
There are beautiful textures throughout the hotel (kilim rugs, wood paneled walls, books) so if detail photos are your thing you’ll love Eaton DC.
During their first year, I helped Hotel Hive realize their online visual aesthetic. DC’s first micro hotel and a consistently top-ranked choice on Trip Advisor, Hotel Hive brings minimal, sleek design and luxury vibes to folks who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a hotel. All the rooms are 125–250 square feet. The only rooms with two beds are the bunk bed rooms (however, multiple adjoining room options are available). The rooftop bar has one of the best views in town (and a spectacular view of the 4th of July fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial) and there’s a pizza shop and bar on the main level of the hotel.
The view from the roof, for starters. It’s got a straight shot view of the Lincoln Memorial and the Watergate complex.
The 115-year old building is full of architectural charm and was lovingly restored.
If you’re spending the night you’ll find your room is very photogenic—playful quotes on the wall, high ceilings and exposed brick walls.
The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean memorials, and the Kennedy Center.
The hotel is a 15-minute walk from the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.
DC’s most awarded hotel offers a lovingly updated historical experience with layers of luxury not often found. Built in 1923 as a luxury residential building and fully renovated/reopened in 2009, this 5-star hotel has modern day conveniences added to the stately Beaux Arts structure.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more convenient location in town. The hotel is 4 blocks north of the White House, convenient to museums, and a 5 minute walk from world-class shopping and dining in Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and 14th Street.
The hotel boasts a unique collection of antique furnishings, curated art, a noteworthy collection of books, as well as nine framed original documents bearing Thomas Jefferson’s signature.
Rooms are incredibly well-appointed with mouldings and textures for days.
The hotel has an in-house historian, Susan Sullivan Lagon, PhD., who is available most Saturdays from 9:00am – 1:00pm in the Book Room. She can help you plan your excursion throughout DC’s historic neighborhoods or you can download one of her curated itineraries.
The LINE Hotel DC
Even though it’s only a couple of years old, I think of the LINE Hotel as the grand dame of DC’s new wave of design-focused, boutique hotels. The photo below is a PR photo I took for them while the hotel was still very much under construction (they had to remove the scaffolding from the front of the hotel so we could take this shot).
The LINE DC endeavors very much to be part of the community. The lobby welcomes co-working, the attached community center offers classes and programming geared towards residents of the neighborhood and beyond, the radio station features local creatives sharing and talking about myriad topics that all spotlight this city and its residents. It’s a hotel that feels woven into the fabric of the city.
The façade, for starters.
In comfortable weather the front stairs of the hotel are covered with groupings of gorgeous throw pillows to encourage conversation, reading, enjoying a coffee, whatever.
The mirror on the stairs. Just scroll the hotel’s hashtag feed on Insta and you’ll see it. It’s one of those shots everyone takes at the hotel and you likely will, too.
The wallpaper in the bathrooms off the main lobby area.
The original building was a church. The chandelier in the main lobby is made from the pipe organ.
You’ll want to take selfies or portraits in the lobby during the morning or evening golden hours when the yellow and white milk glass of the upper lobby windows floods the lobby with beautiful, soft, golden light. It’s important to know that the LINE only allows photos with a camera phone in public spaces. If you pull out your full-sized camera you’ll be scolded.
The rooms. Custom woven blankets, vintage nightstands (that my friend Morgan sourced in 8 states over a 60-day period), herringbone wood floors, lots of 😍, I promise you.
The neighborhood, Adams Morgan, is loaded with quirky locally-owned shops, bars, and restaurants.
The Mayflower Hotel
Speaking of grand dames, this one, here, is the real deal. The Mayflower is the largest luxury hotel in DC and the longest continuously operating hotel in DC area (it opened in February of 1925). The rooms and public spaces have been updated many times over the years. Thankfully the bad design decisions of the late-60s on through the 80s have been rectified and the Mayflower is once again a glorious, grand, and gorgeous hotel.
The two-story tall lobby with massive skylight and gold gilt columns.
The mezzanine offers beautiful lounging and working spaces and up-close views of the gold gilt column capitals.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to any of the ballrooms during your stay you’ll basically pass out when you see them.
The neighborhood is convenient to Dupont and Logan Circles, 14th Street, and the museums.
The Watergate Hotel
Yes, that Watergate. The one that gave rise to our habit of adding -gate to the end of anything scandalous. But long before the political scandal became associated with the name, the Watergate complex (which includes the hotel, condos, office, and retail spaces) was no stranger to controversy. The modern, curvilinear design ruffled feathers from the moment the architectural models went on display in 1961 and you’ll still find widely differing opinions of the architecture today.
The hotel opened in March of 1967 and has had quite a convoluted history over the years but reopened in 2014 after a $125m renovation that appears to be worth every cent. The hotel’s public spaces have a retro-futurist aesthetic that feels right at home with the architectural elements of the building, itself. And the personality of the hotel these days is wry and obviously capitalizes on the Watergate’s infamy.
To quote from the hotel’s website:
Since Nixon infamously declared "I am not a crook," The Watergate Hotel has been renovated time and again, but no one embraced its original design or posh patrons. Until now. We have arrived at the hotel's newest chapter as a luxury hotel in Washington DC. Moretti disciple Ron Arad has restored The Watergate Hotel with a dramatic undulating copper lobby and lush, mid-century modern furniture. Our staff is poised to create a memorable experience for every guest. When it comes to hotels near Georgetown, Washington DC, nothing tops the history of The Watergate Hotel.
The Next Whiskey Bar, just off the hotel’s lobby, looks like a set from a Kubrik film.
The views from Top of the Gate (and if you’re up there in the winter you can even go ice skating).
The far back dining room of Kingbird, the restaurant off the lobby.
The hotel’s signage in the porte cochère.
The Watergate, itself.
Since it’s right next door, there’s really no better place to stay in town if you’re going to an event at the Kennedy Center.
The REACH, the new expansion of the Kennedy Center is imminently Instagrammable, as are the views from the roof of the Kennedy Center.
Which hotels did I miss?
Do you know a totally gorgeous, totally Instagrammable hotel in Washington, DC, that needs to be on this list? Let me know in the comments or get in touch by email!