Five for Five

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Local Weekend Hotel Deals for Under $500

Have you ever gone to a hotel’s Web site and noticed those nifty little package deals offering the promise of a sumptuous night’s sleep, unparalleled balcony views and luxurious amenities for a sweet all-in-one price?

The Washington region certainly boasts its share of high-end and boutique accommodations, with many fanciful themed package deals to boot—from lavish “girlfriend getaways” to Zen-like spa experiences—but with a hot hospitality market, finding a deal among these “deals” can be difficult. So can quality, perhaps even indulgent, weekend lodging be found for less than a typical monthly mortgage payment in the nation’s capital?

With a little research, The Washington Diplomat came up with a “Five for Five” list: five weekend hotel stays for under 0. To make our results consistent, we decided to compare rates during one weekend this fall (Nov. 9-11), and to ensure we’re comparing apples to apples, we excluded additional discounts such as those offered through memberships to various associations.

Finally, because online rates offered by hotels tend to be more affordable and accurate—not to mention easier to cancel should the unexpected occur—we chose to go directly to hotel Web sites rather than rely on phone inquiries and discount travel sites. And although the prices listed here as of press time may change, the bargains appear to be reasonably durable. So, what can you get for less than 500 clams?

Two Money-Saving Marriotts

If you’ve hosted out-of-town guests at a nearby hotel, the chances that they’ve stayed at a Marriott are pretty high. When counting suburban areas such as Greenbelt, Md., and Woodbridge, Va., the chain has more than 100 locations throughout the area. We took the long list and narrowed it down to two interesting selections.

Among the target audiences for the Westfields Marriott in Northern Virginia are businesses and associations looking for a state-of-the-art place to host conferences and other events. As a result, the hotel, which is close to Dulles International Airport, can get both jam-packed and noisy during large gatherings. On the other hand, hitting the hotel on a weekend when no big events are planned can be like discovering a goldmine. And because so many conferences and business retreats take place during the week, there tend to be a lot of weekends from which to choose.

For our November weekend of choice, nightly rates at the Westfields started at 9 for a room including a king-size bed, workstation and marble bathroom. That’s half of what it would cost per night for the same room on any of the preceding weeknights. After taxes and fees, a two-night stay would come to about 0. Selecting a two-night romance package with breakfast for two, an in-room movie and a bottle of champagne bumped the price up to a still-reasonable 0.

Although it’s removed from the restaurants and theaters of downtown nightlife, the resort-style property’s location eight miles from Dulles means there’s room for a golf course and day spa. Also within a 30-minute drive are close to a dozen wineries where samplings and a bottle of wine can be sipped for well under .

In the heart of downtown, the Renaissance Mayflower is another upscale Marriott property that has some surprising rates for leisurely stays. The lavish hotel, dripping with chandeliers and luxury amenities after an million renovation, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located five blocks from the White House. The bonus for leisure guests is that it’s designed for business travelers, which means the rates here also tend to go down on the weekends. So although weekday rates for a deluxe room in November start at 0, charges for the same accommodation drop to 9 for Friday and Saturday overnight stays.

Most surprising was that a spacious one-bedroom suite with a separate living room—above our 0 limit during the week—can be reserved for 9 on a Friday or Saturday. Check in on a Friday evening after work and that extra money can go a long way on food and drink at the on-site Town and Country Lounge, where you can choose from a renowned menu of 101 martinis during happy hour and sample a free buffet of tasty appetizers.

One Washington Circle Hotel

It’s affiliated with George Washington University, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this hotel’s ambiance was fashioned solely for college parents and visiting academics (although be forewarned that it can get busy during particular times of the school year).

The all-suite boutique hotel is at the tail end of a renovation project that has added spacious balconies, upgraded in-room amenities and improved the on-site restaurant. Located less than a block from the Foggy Bottom Metro station and three blocks from both the Kennedy Center and Georgetown, it’s a prime spot for weekend explorations.

Better yet, its spacious accommodations fit remarkably well into a 0 budget. For a two-night stay, use the full amount (including taxes and fees) for one of the larger deluxe penthouses or spend 4 for either a junior suite or a smaller guest room with a view, all of which have kitchens. For an even better deal, call the hotel to check on the availability of its two Grand Stateroom Suites, each of which measures more than 700 square feet and includes a kitchen and separate dining area. Although reservations for the apartment-style accommodations are not available online, The Washington Diplomat was able to snatch up the suite on a Saturday this summer for less than 0.

Homewood Suites

As it turns out, Washington’s reputation as the nexus of power benefits the leisure traveler in a variety of ways. Take, for example, the extended-stay hotel. Many of these brands, which target the ever-growing business travel community, have begun a transformation in recent years from drab little rooms with tiny kitchenettes to chicly decorated suites for business and leisure travelers alike.

Although many extended-stay accommodations are located in the suburbs, Homewood Suites has plopped one its properties along Massachusetts Avenue, NW, right in the urban center of D.C. Amenities in the hotel’s two-room suites include graciously sized kitchens, dining areas, separate living rooms, wood laminate flooring and plush beds. Reservations at the Hilton-owned chain include a hot breakfast buffet, as well as a complimentary grocery shopping service for guests who want to take advantage of the fully equipped kitchens.

A new online feature also allows members of Hilton’s rewards program to view floor plans, photographs and detailed descriptions of each room before booking. Rates for our selected weekend started at 9 a night, with the cost for a two-night stay totaling 7.

Bethesda Court Hotel

There is nothing fancy about the Bethesda Court Hotel, located in Bethesda, Md., and past visitors gave mixed reviews about the front desk staff and the size of accommodations. On the other hand, the price is hard to beat for a boutique hotel surrounded by dozens of restaurants and located less than two blocks from the Bethesda Metro station. Nightly rates start at a base of 9 a night for rooms that, if not luxurious, are at least clean and nicely decorated.

Park Hyatt Washington

Like the Renaissance Mayflower, the Park Hyatt Washington is known for its sophistication, with prices to reflect the high-end charm. One-night rates for Friday and Saturday start at 0 for a 408-square-foot room and go all the way up to just under ,000 for a penthouse-level suite three times the size of a regular room.

So where’s the bargain? For starters, weekend rates are a good deal lower than prices charged Monday to Thursday, when the cost falls in the 0 range. And although the 0 (0 with the hefty taxes and fees) may still seem costly compared with some of the other deals listed in the article, you get what you pay for: spacious rooms decked out by a renowned interior decorator, high-quality bed linens, and spa-style bathrooms with rain showers and plush robes.

Last month, the hotel also began a nightly program to offer pairings of artisan cheese ( per ounce) and high-end wines ( a glass)—an indulgent but great way to spend the extra 0. On the Other End of the Financial Spectrum

Can luxury be found for less in the D.C. hotel scene? As we show you this month, the answer is a definitive yes. But where to go when a big-ticket celebration comes along? Anniversaries, milestone birthdays, high-profile business meetings—all of these may be reasons to pull a little harder on the purse strings.

Certainly options abound, especially with the explosive growth of boutique and high-end chains such as the Kimpton and Sofitel brands. But for the quintessential D.C. experience, there’s a hotel that’s hosted virtually every U.S. president since its inception in 1850, which consistently delivers an experience that’s tough to top.

Spend a night at the Willard InterContinental Washington and you’ll join a guest list that’s included hundreds of celebrities over the years, many of whom have made history there. (The fact that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Willard is just one of the hotel’s many landmark moments).

And all that history comes with facilities that offer modern technology, elegant quarters, luxurious spa services, a new outdoor Parisian café and an environmental sustainability program to boot.

The hotel receives consistently high marks from customers on service and experience, both of which come with a price. The accommodations are far from inexpensive, reaching the ,000 range for a one-bedroom suite. But when there’s room in the budget, the hotel consistently offers specials and package deals that are worth looking into.

A search on the Willard’s Web site—guaranteed by the hotel to have the absolute lowest rates available—revealed five package deals for the weekend of Nov. 9. Among them was the “Insider Occasion,” starting at 0 a night depending on room size, including complimentary breakfast and two-hour long spa treatments for two guests.

Bump the budget up to ,300 and try for another weekend and you may land a night in the honeymoon-style suite with the hotel’s advertised “Capital Night of Romance” package, featuring add-ons such as breakfast in bed, champagne, chocolates, and a Jacuzzi decked with rose petals and bath amenities. And although the price is in line with what most would expect for a top-tier hotel, the package also throws in a gift certificate for a future one-night stay in a standard room.

About the Author

Heather Mueller is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.

Last Edited on November 29, 1999