Best Boutique Hotels in Washington DC

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Advisor - Mary Roberts
Curated By

Mary Roberts

  • City Travel

  • Boutique Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Washington, DC

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Best Boutique Hotels in Washington DC
Curator’s statement

As a DC-native, one of my favorite places in the world is my hometown of Washington, DC. I love to discover a new side of the city by staying in the different neighborhoods where some of our boutique hotels in Washington DC live. Find something new in these off the beaten path DC places.

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If you’ve ever visited Washington, DC, you’ve probably been to the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museum, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial. As a DC resident, I’ve had many special “staycations” in this beautiful city and I always look forward to deciding which of the boutique hotels in Washington, DC to make my home for a few nights. There are so many wonderful hotels to choose from in the city and finding some that are off the beaten path or in a new neighborhood is a great way to explore the city.

DC has many iconic and historic hotels across the city that I’ve been lucky enough to stay in, such as the Willard Intercontinental, the Hay-Adams, and The Mayflower - yes, of the Mayflower Madam fame. Most of the time, I prefer to stay in one of the many smaller, more intimate boutique hotels in Washington, DC if it’s a special event such as my birthday weekend, an anniversary or just to satisfy my wanderlust. Each of them has a different personality, a different view of the city, and usually a nearby restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try.

Poppy Georgetown Guesthouse and Gardens

One of my favorite new and smaller hotels or in this case, guesthouses, is The Poppy Georgetown Guesthouse and Gardens, an intimate, 15-room guesthouse. It feels like the perfect combination of a hotel and a private home. In 2022, the guesthouse was sold and refreshed. In June 2023, they unveiled their rebranding as The Poppy, a sweet nod to the many gardens and private outdoor spaces for guests and neighbors to use. There are two suites that feature a private garden with a firepit, dining table, and comfy seating for guests to enjoy - maybe with snacks or a glass of wine that the guesthouse can arrange from the many small, local shops or amazing restaurants.

The guesthouse is a historic Georgetown row home with a lovely garden where guests can gather and enjoy themselves. It’s a special place and they enjoy hosting families, couples, even doggie family members on occasion. They offer the chance to book the entire guesthouse - with a minimum of two nights - as well as the chance to have a wedding here or for a bridal party to stay if the wedding is in one of the nearby outdoor venues such as Dumbarton House. For food and wine lovers, you’ll love the many nearby restaurants, but especially 2-year-old Apero, which has been recommended by Michelin guide and is a favorite of the neighborhood.

While I personally think everyone would love The Poppy, there are some situations where it might not be the right place. Unlike most hotels, there isn’t someone at the property 24-hours a day, so for late check-ins, they have the sweetest little house-shaped lockboxes for guests to retrieve their room keys just inside the garden gate. Because there are stairs, guests who aren’t comfortable carrying their own luggage up and down stairs or navigating entry into the house on their own might prefer a more traditional boutique hotel.

The Rosewood DC

Next is another Georgetown favorite of mine, The Rosewood DC, which sits along the C&O Canal. The historic Federalist-style red brick building was originally built as an office building that was lovingly turned into a luxury hotel in 2013. There are 55 rooms, including 12 suites and six townhouses. Each guest room is unique with its own color, design, furnishings, original artwork, parquet flooring from a demolished French château and custom millwork. The Presidential suites each have a fireplace. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide both views of the surrounding Georgetown as well as wonderful natural light. The townhouses are just above the canal along a residential street. You’d never know they were part of luxury hotel offering space for families who want a 5-star stay.

The Rosewood is the pinnacle of luxury for a boutique hotel in Washington DC. Every service you can think of is available to you when you stay with them, from the infinity pool with an amazing city view, to Wolfgang Puck’s hard to get into CUT DC. The fitness room also has views that you only get in such a special hotel. CUT Above is the hotel’s rooftop bard and lounge, where you can watch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail or delicious snacks in the plush and modern lounge furniture.

Georgetown is fun to explore. The monuments and museums can wait for another day, but be sure to explore this special historic part of DC. I love to walk along the C&O canal and find little shops and cafes, high-end luxury retail stores, or take the canal boat tour. If you’re staying at the Poppy, it’s a gorgeous 10-minute stroll through the historic neighborhoods or along the path that follows Rock Creek Parkway to M Street. The Rosewood DC is right on the canal, so you can take a few steps to wander along the canal path or borrow one of the bikes provided by the hotel to ride down to the Potomac River and explore other parts of the area. You’ll find restaurants, bars, entertainment and shopping in excess. My grandfather attended Georgetown University Law School and it’s a beautiful campus to visit.

Kimpton Hotels

If you’re hoping to be a bit closer to museums and monuments, you will find some incredible boutique hotels in DC closer to downtown or the Capitol. I’ve been lucky to stay in many of them, including the various Kimptons. There are a few Kimpton hotels in DC and they’re all so different from each other. It’s fun to try each of them if you have time.

The closest to my home is the Kimpton George Hotel. The hotel is close to Union Station, the Capitol, the Senate & House office buildings and a short walk from the National Archives, as well as some beautiful parks and the gardens and fountains that surround the nearby area. This is a favorite of mine because I love this neighborhood. The restaurant in the Kimpton George Hotel is Bistro Bis, where I’ve seen many of the Washington politicos as well as Wolf Blitzer! And the food is definitely worth a visit. The rooms are simple, comfortable and elegant, with fun, historic quotes from George Washington on the walls. There are several colorful and fun nods to its namesake.

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is another favorite with its eclectic style rooms, fun and bright and colorful décor. The rooms are each quite unique with a mix of traditional and modern. Some have clawfoot tubs, while others are more contemporary. Half the fun in staying at the Hotel Monaco is the surprise of your room when you open the door! The Hotel Monaco is closer to downtown DC and nearly halfway between the National Building Museum and the White House.

The National Building Museum is an architect’s dream with huge marble columns and fun, interactive exhibits. If you have time, don’t miss this museum. Once the pensioner’s building, it was restored and houses some thoughtful exhibits. One of my favorite exhibits was an LEGO exhibit where they had a whole room set up for people to play. Another must-see is the National Law Enforcement Museum and wall where every officer is honored with their name.

When you book any of the DC Kimpton hotels with a Fora Travel Advisor, you get some wonderful perks and benefits.

Washington DC is very easy to get to whether you’re arriving by train, car, bus, or plane. Union Station is a major railway station serviced by Amtrak, regional MARC and VRE commuter rail and Metrorail. Ronald Reagan Airport is only 15 minutes by car to several of the boutique hotels I’ve mentioned. You will hear people call the airport National Airport, since that’s what we grew up calling it, so don’t let that confuse you. Old habits die hard.

One hotel that I think is special and worth mentioning is the Morrison House Hotel in Alexandria, VA. Rather than being a boutique hotel in DC, it’s a boutique hotel in Old Town Alexandria. It’s usually ranked the #1 hotel in Alexandria in the US News & World Report hotel rankings. The hotel’s restaurant and bar, The Study, were reconceived and renovated in 2022 and have a chic and fun literary focus. The rooms and decor are a perfect blend of modern comfort with a touch of the historic and traditional taken from the hotel’s surroundings. Small and luxurious, this boutique hotel offers 45 guest rooms and ample space for a private event. The location is perfect for exploring Old Town, where you’ll find restaurants and tons of shopping and activities. Some of my favorite things to do in Old Town are visit the Torpedo Factory, take a cruise on the Potomac, visit Jones Point Park or head to Port City Brewery and enjoy local craft beer and great food. If you’re into history, there are so many historic sites and homes to visit, you could spend a week here!

Once you’ve finished exploring Old Town, Morrison House is a quick drive or Metro ride into DC. It’s also only a few miles from Reagan National Airport, so if you’re flying, spend a few days at one of the hotels in DC, then spend a couple days in Old Town before flying out. Whatever path you choose, there are more things to do and see than you can imagine. Visit the normal sites in Washington DC. Go to the Smithsonian museums; they're almost all free. See everything from dinosaurs to space shuttles. See all the art your heart desires. Shop until you’ve filled your hotel room. Then stray from the tourist areas and discover DC in a new way. Stroll around Georgetown, wander the books at the Library of Congress, head to The Wharf and watch a show at The Atlas, or find a park to sit and people watch or read a book. That’s the DC I know and love.

the Poppy lockbox garden
The Poppy Georgetown Guesthouse and Gardens Exterior Front Facing West Med Res

Need to Know

Be sure to venture into the neighborhoods rather than only doing the main museums and monuments. Families will love the parks and more intimate museums and activities of venturing away from the National Mall once in a while. Stay in a smaller hotel that is tucked off the beaten path to savor the neighborhood, eat at the local cafes and stroll the neighborhood streets.

Advisor - Mary Roberts

Travel Advisor

Mary Roberts

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