1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
202/628-9100 or 800/827-1747
COST: More than $250 per night
The staff at the historic Willard is quick to point out their hotel’s historic heritage and Washington clout, but it is no wonder: The Willard is where a fire one evening in 1922 forced the evacuation of its 500 guests, including long-term resident Vice President Calvin Coolidge, John Philip Sousa, four senators, and numerous members of congress and captains of industry.
At the Willard in 1861, Julia Ward Howe penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and in 1963, Martin Luther King polished his “I Have a Dream” speech. Presidents Lincoln and Coolidge lived here for brief periods as well.
“If you want to give an impression that you mean serious business, you stay at the Willard,” says concierge Guillaume Tourniaire. An inn has been operating on this site since 1816; the current building was constructed in 1904.
Guest rooms in this Second Empire-style building are opulently furnished with Federal and Edwardian reproduction furniture, as are the public spaces, including the Round Robin Bar, a watering hole favored by Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, and Abraham Lincoln. Guest rooms along Pennsylvania Avenue offer views of the Washington Monument , the Ellipse, and the National Mall.
The Jenny Lind Suite is the hotel’s most requested guest room for romance; tucked under the mansard roof, this three-room space features a bedroom with a canopy bed and vaulted ceiling and direct views of the Washington Monument from the two-person soaking tub.