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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Suite Hotels near Washington D.C.

This is part of a series on Washington D.C. with kids. Most of the attractions in Washington D.C. are free, making a trip like this much less expensive than trips elsewhere (after factoring in hotel costs!).

After two trips to Washington D.C. in two years, I feel like a hotel search expert. I spent hours trying to find the right combination of things I wanted for our meager budget. If you can get a hotel that works for you in Washington D.C., by all means go for it. When we went the rates were too high (not to mention parking costs). We opted for Arlington, VA, which is very easy (and quick) to get to on the Metro system.
Here was our criteria for a hotel:
-suite (I wanted a bedroom separate from the kids)
-breakfast included
-low-cost parking
-not far from the Metro

Here are the two places we stayed, with reviews:

I’m quickly becoming a convert to Marriott Residence Inns. There’s a lot to love, like suites (duh!), free breakfast, manager’s reception, in-room wi-fi and cookies.

ROOMS: You can get a studio (which is not a suite!), or a 1-2 bedroom suite. While we initially signed up for a studio due to cost, they upgraded us to a 1 bedroom suite because we were Marriott Reward members. I’ll add that we only became Reward members when I booked the hotel, so it’s not like I had some special standing. The room was clean, modern and in great shape.

Marriott Residence Inn Courthouse Square suite
INTERNET: free in-room wi-fi

POOL:  They had a small indoor pool (4 feet deep) and hot tub, with a LIFEGUARD. That seemed like overkill, but okay. The room echoed insanely, making it impossible to hear anyone talk, but the hot tub was nice. (There’s a gym too, but we didn’t go)

FOOD: Free breakfast includes a large selection, with hot items changing daily (they always have some sort of eggs & potato). Selections included a make-your-own-waffle station with chocolate chips, whipped cream, strawberry sauce and more. Cereal. Pastries. Yogurts. Breads. Mondays through Wednesdays they have a manager’s reception (some Marriotts provide wine/beer, but this one didn’t). The reception means free dinner. Not the best food, but it was free.

RESTAURANTS: Tons of restaurants within one block walking distance, including a nice looking pizza place just outside the hotel. That weekend we ate Italian (from a NJ pizza guy - see below), sushi and Thai – all found on the way to the Metro station.

New Toscana Grill - Under New Jersey Management
METRO ACCESS: Very easy (and safe) one block walk to the Courthouse Metro station from the back door to the hotel – taking you through a shopping area (mostly with restaurants). This is the second stop in Arlington.

PARKING: $14/day self-park indoors

PERKS: Warm cookies available at the front desk every night. The front desk manager while we were there (didn’t get his name) could not have been more helpful.

NEARDeep throat parking garage marker. Yeah, that didn’t make it onto our itinerary.

HOW I BOOKED: Got a great weekend deal on, but then found even better weekend deal on the hotel website.

We stayed here on our first trip, and I thought I scored until I stayed at the Marriott for less, and had a better experience. This was a totally functional hotel though.

ROOMS: We got a one bedroom studio which was quite spacious. The hotel is a bit outdated but clean and comfortable.

Virginian Suites
INTERNET: free in-room wi-fi

POOL:  They had a small outdoor  pool in season.

FOOD: Free breakfast that included pastries, bagel/cream cheese twists (prepackaged), cereal, juice, coffee, toast.

METRO ACCESS: First Metro stop in Arlington. The downtown was dead, and I didn’t see many restaurants open at night. It was about a 15 minute walk to the hotel from the Metro stop. Not scary/dangerous, but you did have to cross a number of streets (not all with good sidewalks and some felt like you were on a freeway) and it wasn’t always clear which way to go. I wouldn’t want to do that walk with a stroller, necessarily, but it was okay with my kids (and me alone). They do offer shuttle service at various times during the day. We took one in the morning once, but didn’t want to wait the other days. I’m not sure how you’d get the shuttle at night.

PARKING: outdoor self-park.

RESTAURANTS: Nothing I saw in walking distance, though near the Metro stop you could get fast food/sandwich. Some restaurants deliver there.

NEAR: Iwo Jima monument – just across the street (walking distance). Very close to Arlington National Cemetery as well.

Iwo Jima monument - walking distance from the hotel
HOW I BOOKED: Got a fantastic weekend deal on that included free parking and breakfast.
Check out my other posts on Washington D.C. with kids including:

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