Hotels with White House Ties

by  Laura Powell | Aug 23, 2016
Courtesy The Watergate Hotel
Courtesy The Watergate Hotel

When a new leader enters the White House this fall many Americans will flock to Washington, D.C. to check out the vibe under President number forty-five. Let a little presidential pizzazz rub off by staying at one of these hotels with political pasts and presents.

Stand on the roof of the Hay-Adams Hotel, which overlooks the White House. Thanks to its location and its luster, this independently owned hotel has hosted many heads of state, including, of course, U.S. presidents. Notably, the Obama family lived here for a few weeks before moving into their new digs on January 20, 2008.

Also White House adjacent is the Willard InterContinental, known as the residence of presidents. The hotel has hosted many, dating back to the 19th century. Zachary Taylor was the first president to stay, shortly after the hotel opened. Amid death threats, Abraham Lincoln moved in pre-inauguration under the protection of the Pinkerton Agency. Ulysses S. Grant stayed at the hotel immediately after the Civil War. The apocryphal story: Grant liked hanging out in the lobby. But when he did, he was barraged by favor-seekers. Hence, the term “lobbyist” was born here.

Harry Truman used to host poker games at the hotel that is now The Capitol Hilton. Stay in the Harry Truman Suite, and you can play the same baby grand piano that the 33rd president presided over.

President Calvin Coolidge cut the ribbon during the opening of the then-Carlton Hotel more than 80 years ago. Years later, Ronald Reagan’s barber was located at the hotel, conveniently located three blocks from the White House. The property was renamed the St. Regis Washington in 1999, but it still retains the grandeur of its presidential past.

No, Thomas Jefferson never frequented the Jefferson Hotel, but the property does offer a glimpse into the former president's lifestyle and tastes. Antiques, period artifacts, documents signed by Jefferson, and maps of his travels can be found throughout the hotel. Guestrooms evoke Thomas Jefferson’s life as it would have been during his years in Paris and at home in Monticello. In the private dining room, be sure to check out the working dumbwaiter (a Jeffersonian invention) that brings bottles up from the hotel’s extensive wine cellar.


The newly re-opened Watergate is as famous as the name of the scandal that brought down the Nixon administration. Once the site of the infamous political break-in, the Watergate Hotel has recently been transformed into a luxurious urban resort.

The Washington Hilton is located just north of Dupont Circle. As a hotel, it would be nothing out of the ordinary -- except for its political ties. Due to the fact that it has the city’s largest hotel ballroom, the Hilton hosts the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner every year. More notably, the Hilton was where John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Regardless of election results, the Trump Organization is making a power play in Washington. It has transformed the historic Old Post Office Pavilion into an opulent Trump International Hotel. It wouldn’t be a Trump property without superlatives -- this one has the “hugest” hotel suite in the city. It opens in September.

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