Barack Obama and Washington DC are ready for round two.
With the US President’s inaugural
address taking place on 21 January, scores of politicos, diplomats, history
buffs and pop stars are expected to converge on the US capital this weekend in preparation
for the historic occasion. Even though the number of attendees is estimated to
drop from the President’s first inaugural address (1.8 million people attended in
2009), the expected crowd of 700,000 is still significantly higher than the
second inaugurations of the two previous US Presidents, George W Bush and Bill
And this drop off is good news for travellers.
Many of city’s historic hotels have rooms still available, and all of the ones listed
below are within walking distance of the Capitol building steps (where the
swearing-in ceremony will take place at 11:30 am) and the parade route on
Pennsylvania Avenue (which will start at 2 pm). Unfortunately, there’s no word
yet on where Beyoncé
will be staying.
The Jefferson Hotel
Built in 1923, the Jefferson was one
of two buildings besides the White House
that was deemed a target during the air
strikes of World War II. At the time, the Jefferson was the British military
headquarters, with a rooftop-lit glass atrium that could be seen from the sky.
Quieter times and a complete renovation followed, and in 2012, the hotel’s intimate
Gallatin meeting room was used to host re-election campaign meetings for
Willard InterContinental Hotel
Before his own inauguration in 1860, Abraham Lincoln used his first
presidential pay check to cover his stay at the Willard. The hotel is also
where Martin Luther King Jr wrote his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. For the 2013
inauguration, the Beaux Arts-style hotel is using their Oval Suites overlooking
Pennsylvania Avenue to host private parade-viewing soirees. You do not have to
be a guest of the hotel to attend, just know someone who can put you on the
Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
A presidential favourite, the Mayflower
hosted the very first inaugural ball for President Coolidge in 1925. It’s also
where President Franklin Roosevelt wrote “we have nothing
to fear but fear itself” in 1933, where President Truman lived while the White
House underwent renovations in 1945, where President Kennedy held his inaugural
ball in 1961 and where Monica Lewinsky stayed during the Clinton scandal in
In 1930, the quaint Hay-Adams offered the
first air-conditioned dining room in DC, luring legendary US aviators Amelia
Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. In 2009, it became the temporary home of the
Obama family for the two weeks leading up to the first inauguration. Today, the
Hay-Adams is also known for its Author
Series, which invites renowned literary figures for intimate conversation
with hotel guests. Past authors have included Joyce Carol Oats, Toni Morrison
and Clinton’s 1993 inaugural poet Maya Angelou.
The only DC inn to make the list of Historic
Hotels of America, the Morrison-Clark
once served as a lodging club for military servicemen, with each First Lady up
until Nancy Reagan presiding as honorary chairperson. After the club closed in
1987, the Victorian twin townhouses reopened as an inn with the original
fixtures and a 19th-century art collection.
Henley Park Hotel
The restored Tudor mansion is the
closest hotel to the Washington Convention Center, where Obama’s inaugural ball
is scheduled to take place the night of 21 January. The hotel’s award-winning
Tavern at Henley Park, is a favourite dining spot of senators, ambassadors
and the rest of Washington’s political elite.