VACATION IDEAS

Secret Hotels of Washington, D.C.

Our forefathers worked hard to make our nation's capital great. Unfortunately, not as much effort went into making it affordable. Just in time for our president's inauguration, we found five charming hotels that are refreshingly democratic in price.

Hotel Helix

A Kimpton boutique hotel with surprisingly large rooms—some with kid-friendly bunk beds—and a welcoming attitude to pets.

This boutique hotel's theme is "15 Minutes of Fame"—meaning guests are invited to think of themselves as celebrities. When you enter the lobby, red drapes open as if you're stepping onto a stage, the check-in desks look like podiums, and the walls are lined with Pop Art-style photos of actual celebrities. The lobby Helix Lounge is popular with guests and locals alike, thanks to its fun drinks and, during happy hour, half-price burgers; in winter, its spacious outdoor terrace is kept cozy with heat lamps. The rooms are surprisingly large—from 400 to 800 square feet—and even the smallest options have separate dressing areas. And in spite of the fact that the modern décor is heavy on bright colors and hard, sleek surfaces, the property still manages to feel homey. A bonus for families: Some rooms have bunk beds fitted into an alcove with a second flat-screen TV, so the kids can watch cartoons while parents tune out. Even Fido is welcome and, to prove it, the staff will provide treats, beds, bowls, and bottled water. Outside your room you'll find Logan Circle, home to eclectic shops and restaurants-and a Whole Foods if you're looking for the familiar. Be aware that rates fluctuate wildly depending on the season. You might find rooms for $99 or as high as $500. Weekends tend to be cheaper, as do low seasons like late summer and Dec-Jan.1430 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., hotelhelix.com, from $99 per night.

Adams Inn

A cozy trio of early 20th-century houses with a communal vibe, a large garden, and a pet-friendly policy.

You'll find the Adams Inn in Adam's Morgan, a neighborhood where restaurants wave flags from five continents and the bars crank up the music and host live bands. The trio of early 20th-century brick-town houses hasn't strayed far from its original roots as a group residence. More than half of the 26 rooms come with private baths; the remainder must share (ask the front desk for complimentary necessities like shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream before you strip down). The pragmatic, only-what-you-need furnishings are dated in a good way. The color palette is soothing, and there's a refreshing absence of noise boxes (no TVs or phones). Two kitchens and numerous dining nooks mean you can save money by preparing meals or reheating leftovers. There is also a laundry facility in the basement. 1746 Lanier Pl., adamsinn.com, from $99 per night (shared bath), $129 (private bath).

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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