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Ready for the inauguration? Better make plans after Election Day

November 05, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Crowds swarm the National Mall waiting for the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.
Crowds swarm the National Mall waiting for the presidential inauguration… (Chicago Tribune )

It's a presidential election year, which also means that 2013 will be an inauguration year for whomever emerges as the victor Tuesday. If you plan to go but haven't yet made hotel plans, well, that's a good thing.

"Most people making a visit to D.C. on average book three weeks in advance," says Kate E. Gibbs, media manager for the district's tourism agency Destination DC. "So this is still very early, even though it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." She says many hotels still haven't posted their rates and special packages yet.

But all that changes Wednesday after the results are in. There are inaugural balls and parades to be planned, and those who want in on the city's biggest party-time will be making plans too. In 2008, an estimated 1.8 million people came to the district's National Mall to celebrate.

This year the inauguration falls on Jan. 20, a Sunday, which means the president will be sworn in privately at noon and all the public hoopla will be pushed back a day to the  Monday (which makes Martin Luther King Jr. Day a double holiday). 

Because of the extra day, hotels are selling rooms in four-night blocks, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a room for Monday night alone. Gibbs expects this to change come mid-November when single-night reservations should open up.

And the hotel landscape will look different from 2009. The 317-room W hotel on 15th Street that's to the White House wasn't there during the last inaugural cycle, and the vintage Hay-Adams Hotel on 16th Street hadn't yet added its cool roof-top deck. A new boutique hotel called Capella Washington is expected to open in Georgetown in January as well.

So how much can you expect to pay? It's too early to tell, Gibbs said. But if the past is a predictor of the future, $605 was the average daily rate for hotel rooms on Jan. 20, 2009, according to one analyst.

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