Last Updated on March 28, 2021 by Katrina

Photo credit: The Hay-Adams

Any true sightseeing in Washington, D.C., involves at least a little time along the National Mall. It’s home to the Capitol building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument, along with war memorials and Smithsonian museums. Staying near the National Mall puts you close to a lot of those big sights, but the best hotels near the National Mall also add something extra. Some have their own place in the city’s history, while others offer contemporary ambience and timeless views. Here are five hotels that will put you in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The Willard InterContinental (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-628-9100), Downtown

First opened in 1818, this grand hotel was originally known as The City Hotel, and has been central to some chapters of American history. Lincoln stayed here before his inauguration. Martin Luther King, Jr. put the last touches of his “I Have a Dream” speech in the lobby. And Ulysses S. Grant coined the term “lobbyist” as a weary comment on the political players who pestered him while he was trying to relax in the lobby bar. “This is Old Washington luxury at its best,” says Washingtonian, thanks to “mahogany furnishings, crystal chandeliers, and afternoon tea just minutes from the White House.” “If you’re a history lover, this InterContinental is for you,” says one Tripadvisor user, who also liked the in-room Nespresso machine. “They even have a mini museum in a small hallway where they display memorabilia—really enjoyed it.”

The Hay-Adams (800 16th St. NW; 202-638-6600), Lafayette Square

This stately, Italian Renaissance-style hotel, built in the 1920s, got its name from the two Washington insiders whose homes used to be on the premises, right across from the White House and Lafayette Square. Today the hotel still exudes insider access, in the best possible way. “Old-school grandeur, luxurious decor, impeccable service, and stunning views of the White House make this a Washington fixture,” says Washingtonian. “The room was beautiful and tasteful, although a little small,” says one Google reviewer, who had special raves for the hotel’s onsite bar, the cheekily named Off the Record, for being buzzing yet not too crowded on a Friday evening. “A really fun bar, with great drinks and food.”

W Washington DC (515 15th St. NW; 202-661-2400), Federal Triangle

Just steps from the White House, this Beaux-Arts-style building dates to 1917, but as you might expect from a W Hotel, its modern interior caters nicely to anyone who wants a sleek atmosphere and amenities. There’s the Bliss spa, a FIT gym, and a beer garden called The Corner Office. “While most of Washington’s luxury hotels are all about overstated elegance, the W is an ultra-trendy exception,” says Washingtonian. To wit: The lobby’s color scheme of red patent leather and zebra print. Google reviewers rave about the views from some rooms. One user wrote, “My room was smaller than it seemed in photos online, but still nice. Loved the 24-hour room service—the restaurant, Pinea is amazing—and great ambience at the Rooftop bar upstairs, POV.”

Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square (806 15th St. NW; 202-730-8800), Lafayette Square

It’s perhaps fitting, in a town largely designed by a French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, that a great hotel just two blocks from the White House has plenty of Parisian panache. This elegant 237-room Sofitel has a brasserie, offers in-room spa services, and is pet-friendly. “This stately boutique, French-owned hotel takes its cue from the nearby White House, with its eye-catching, French-accented, American heritage décor,” says Fodors, which also gives it accolades for “spacious and sumptuous rooms.” Tripadvisor reviewers rave about the convenient location—plus the beds. “The king size bed,” one reviewer wrote, “might be the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in.”

Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC (1330 Maryland Ave. SW; 202-554-8588), Southwest Waterfront

If you want to come to D.C. for cherry blossom season, this 373-room branch of the luxury hotel offers a killer location on the Southwest waterfront overlooking the cherry blossoms of the Tidal Basin. Year round, reviewers give it accolades for its staff. “Perhaps the kindest, most accommodating staff I have ever encountered,” says one Tripadvisor user, and “beautiful views in and out of the hotel… a bit on the pricey side but paid back in service.” One user was charmed by the little details, including the stuffed panda at check-in, and an excellent in-room breakfast with “the special touch of the fresh roses in the bowl.”

Related: