1 Lafayette Square NW
202/638-6600 or 800/853-6807
COST: More than $250 per night
Barack Obama and his family lived at the Hay-Adams for several weeks before his inauguration in 2009, mainly because Blair House, the presidential guesthouse where presidents-elect usually stay for a few days before taking the oath of office, was already booked.
Of the historic hotels in DC, why did the Obamas choose this one? Its location in their new neighborhood afforded them great views of their future home, and it definitely was the most convenient: They moved into neighboring Blair House on January 15 and into the White House  on January 20.
The Hay-Adams on Lafayette Square  has hosted luminaries and legends for more than 83 years, including Ethel Barrymore, Sinclair Lewis, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh.
Named for the powerful men who lived in homes on the site (Lincoln’s Secretary of State John Hay and journalist and historian Henry Adams), the Hay-Adams has a classic historic feel; guest rooms are richly decorated in fabric and fine wallpapers and feature plush upholstered furniture, luxurious Frette linens, and marble bathrooms.
Public areas are not spacious but are beautifully decorated and boast Old World charm; the lobby is vaguely reminiscent of a famous hotel lobby in Paris, and the Off the Record bar brings to mind a few establishments at fine hotels in London.
If the Hay-Adams doesn’t fit your style or budget, consider stopping in for a drink: The gin with house-made tonic is among the city’s best.