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The Best Affordable Hotels in Washington DC

A new president, a booming culinary scene, the historic debut of the Smithsonian's latest museum. A lot is happening in the nation’s capital, and these affordable hotels in Washington DC make it that much easier to experience it all.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels |

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

There is no shortage of places to stay in Washington D.C., from five-star luxury chains to landmark hotels that keep a sense of history alive. This is a city of power and politics, but for every Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons, there is a budget-friendly hotel that combines great value with stylish design and a location as desirable as the rest. Hoping to see the capitol without burning a hole in your wallet? These are our favorite affordable hotels in Washington D.C. right now. See if we missed any.

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The Embassy Row Hotel

A top-to-toe makeover in 2015 has put Dupont Circle’s famous Embassy Row Hotel, on Millionaires’ Row, back in the spotlight. The boutique’s bold new look—shades of teal and dandelion yellow in guest rooms; metallic gold coffee tables; graffitied stairwells—sets a stylish stage for the city’s power players, who gather in Station Kitchen & Cocktails (a coffee shop and locavore restaurant by day; a cocktail bar by night) and at the rooftop lounge to seal deals and booze and schmooze. After splurging for one of the private cabanas (or just make fast friends), don’t forget to hit up the 24-hour Chef’s Pantry downstairs for pre-bedtime light bites.

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Kimpton Palomar

Like many other Kimpton properties around the country, the Palomar injects a playful dose of personality into its urban digs near Dupont Circle. Each of the 335 rooms is a study in color and texture, layering faux-fur throws with geometric-patterned carpets, mod art, and pops of orange and magenta. Its other focus is on its social scene, which you’ll find during nightly wine hours at the fireside “living room” (complimentary, of course) and at the heated outdoor pool (during summer). Pet owner? Four-legged guests are spoiled here with their very own beds, food, and water “bar” in the lobby.

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The Madison Washington DC, a Hilton Hotel

White-glove service. A top-shelf restaurant from Iron Chef Jose Garces. A guest roster that includes every U.S. president since JFK. Classy, elegant décor—wingback chairs, Egyptian cotton linens, double vanities—that echo its five-star competitors. That the Madison maintains its unbelievably low room rates is beyond us. Despite its 356 rooms and suites, the mood is intimate and the hospitality welcoming (pets are welcome, no matter their size). We especially love the antique prints and paintings scattered throughout the building, as well as the live jazz on weekends, which draws in a more eclectic scene than its usual business crowd.

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The Fairfax at Embassy Row

While the 50s and 60s—the hotel’s golden years, when Eisenhower, the Kennedys, and Frank Sinatra dined here on notable occasions—may be a thing of the past, the Fairfax still manages to feel relevant in DC’s sea of notable stays. Chalk it up to its attractive Beaux Arts design (think antique chandeliers, gilded crown moldings, and wood-paneled walls), an old-world approach to service, and name-drop-worthy guests that still pass through its halls. We love the location, a block from Dupont Circle, but not more than rubbing elbows with politicians and diplomats (and their entourage) in the fireplace-lit lounge.

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The Graham Washington D.C. Georgetown

Blink and you might miss this 57-room gem, on a quiet side street between M Street and the Potomac River, whose red-brick Federalist façade blends right into the rest on the block. But it’s worth seeking out: expect a genteel Georgetown clientele, a sophisticated Art Deco lean (think geometric motifs, silver carpets, and white leather headboards in guest rooms), and—the pièce de résistence—a scene-stealing rooftop lounge, known as the Observatory, loved for its low-slung wicker chairs and sweeping city views that stretch all the way to the Washington Monument. After taking in the city’s rooftops, head down to the cellar for more craft cocktails, small plates, and, on Saturday nights, live jazz.

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The Melrose Georgetown

The Melrose is an eclectic departure from Georgetown’s more traditional hotels, and we dig it. Neutral-toned spaces are bumped up with vibrant splashes of green and blue and walls are definite focal points with their watercolor paintings, blow-up murals of the U.S. Constitution, and portraits of America’s founding fathers who smirk from their frames. But there’s still a cosmopolitan air to the place, thanks to tufted leather sofas and Molton Brown toiletries in rooms, a lobby library with high-back wing chairs and some 1,000 titles, and seasonal farm-to-table dining at Jardenea that spotlights regional seafood from Chesapeake Bay.

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The Dupont Circle Hotel

Arguably no hotel feels as at home in this slick, powerful town quite like the Dupont Circle Hotel—and we’re not just referring to its fashionable address on sleepless Dupont Circle. Interiors make a sleek, stylish statement behind the building's 1940s façade, from the gleaming marble lobby to the 327 elegant and contemporary rooms (with their heated bathroom floors, 300-thread-count linens, and iPod docking stations) to the moodily lit Bar Dupont, a favorite rendezvous point for suits and hip young things as well as the neighborhood people-watching spot. Ask for a Grand Deluxe room, which faces the Circle—or, better yet, one on Level Nine, which come with bath tubs, glass balconies, dedicated concierges, and access to a club lounge—the usual VIP requests.

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The Normandy

What this charming, no-frills boutique, on a leafy street near Embassy Row, lacks in amenities it makes up for in sheer coziness. Each of the 75 rooms are compact yet delightfully homey, with paisley Parisian wallpaper with matching drapes, velvet armchairs, and marble bathrooms. Downstairs, an equally warm lounge features parquet flooring and plush armchairs gathered around a fireplace—perfect for warming up between walks down Connecticut Avenue. A clutch of first-floor rooms features French doors that open onto a private garden terrace, and while there’s no restaurant on site (there are plenty to choose from in the area), the complimentary wine and cheese happy hour every evening hits all the right notes.

Note: Rates fluctuate depending on availability and seasonality.

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