Exactly Where to Stay and What to Eat to Experience the Inauguration Like a VIP

By Amy Moeller | June 17, 2016 | Culture Feature

Our VIP guide! Navigate the inauguration in style.


Every four years, hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the nation’s capital for the swearing in of the leader of the free world. Whether it’s an incumbent president taking the oath for the second time or a fresh face making his or her first appearance on the platform in front of those Capitol steps, Americans from coast to coast journey to the city, more than doubling its population for the days bookending the inaugural celebration. While the next one—on January 20, 2017—is still six months away, reservations are already heating up, and with the political conventions just around the corner, everyone is in planning mode. To help you navigate the event without getting lost in the crowd, we studied the parade route and talked to the A-list vendors, restaurants, and hotels nearby to determine how to make this the ultimate VIP experience. We’ll show you where to stay and how to see and savor the best of inauguration weekend.


While some say you can’t beat the energy of the crowd, others prefer to keep a luxuriously comfortable distance. Fortunately, many hotels and other venues offer prime locales for getting an “aerial ” view of the inaugural festivities. Here’s where to host your inauguration party.


The US Marine Corps marches down Pennsylvania Avenue after George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001.

The rooftop of the Hay-Adams hotel (800 16th St. NW, 202-638-6600)—called the Top of the Hay, and overlooking the White House and St. John’s Church, where the inauguration’s morning service will be held—already had a number of private events scheduled as of press time, with some availability remaining. The location comes with a hefty price tag—weddings on uneventful weekends reportedly begin around $200 per person, with a 340-person capacity—but you can hardly beat the view for such a historic event.

With its Pennsylvania Avenue location, all of the event spaces at the Ronald Reagan Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) offer some kind of access to the parade route, but only two have direct sight lines. The larger of the two, the Pavilion, can accommodate up to 450 people for a reception, while the Rotunda holds 250.

The 7,300-square-foot 14th-floor terrace at the JW Marriott (1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-393-2000) directly overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue.

And finally, at the W Hotel (515 15th St. NW, 202-661-2400), two of its restaurants, Pinea and the rooftop POV (so named for its view of the White House), were both still available for buyouts at press time.


The trickiest reservation at this point in the planning process will certainly be the hotel. Providing the utmost convenience—and, in some cases, a sneak peek from the comfort of your room—hotels along the parade route have the most direct access to the festivities, allowing guests to walk to events, significantly cutting down on time spent in traffic. If you can still snag a room—most of the hotels we spoke with estimated that they’d hit around 50 percent capacity by convention time—there are a handful of options front and center.


The Presidential Suite at the Sofitel, tied to a promotional package totaling more than $200,000, is fit for a king—or president!

Trump International Hotel (1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-695-1100), in the old Post Office building, officially opens September 12, and could be an especially interesting choice for this election’s inauguration. Situated directly along the parade route, rates begin at $1,250 per night with a five-night minimum and top out at $100,000 per night for the Trump Townhouse, the largest Presidential Suite in the city at 6,300 square feet, with dining-room seating for 24.

The Willard InterContinental (1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 202-628-9100) will offer rooms priced from $1,000 to $10,000 per night, and reservation interest is already strong. At press time, just a few of its rooms and suites facing Pennsylvania Avenue (and the parade) remained, starting at $1,500 per night. We recommend checking out the Oval Suite ($4,500 per night plus a food and beverage minimum), a corner unit named for its elliptical living room with perfect views of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capitol.

Across the street at the W Hotel (515 15th St. NW, 202-661-2400), standard rooms start at $999 per night, while suites are priced from $5,000 per night, with a four-night minimum. At press time, the hotel was taking reservations only for blocks of 10 or more rooms, with general reservations opening up late this summer (it anticipates being fully booked by convention time). If you’re able to snare a reservation, ask for one of the WOW Suites, which are located at the corner of 15th and Penn, offering a view of the parade; they begin at $20,000 per night.

Just north of the parade route, overlooking the White House, the Hay-Adams hotel (800 16th St. NW, 202-638-6600) offers rooms ranging from Superior Rooms (with a four-night minimum) for $1,199 per night to the two-bedroom Federal Suite for $8,999.

The JW Marriott (1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-393-2000) also boasts a prime location. Its concierge-level guest rooms start at $1,250 per night and require a four- or five-night minimum. Looking for a view? Ask for a Pennsylvania Avenue View Room.

For the ultimate inauguration experience, look a block north of the parade route to Sofitel (806 15th St. NW, 202-730-8800). Standard rooms are priced between $950 and $1,400 per night—but the Presidential Suite Package is the crème de la crème. For a whopping $201,700, it includes a four-night stay in the 1,800-square-foot Presidential Suite, private limousine transportation to and from the airport, 24-hour French butler service, a personal hair and makeup stylist, in-room massage, and the opportunity to host up to 20 guests for a French Champagne and caviar cocktail reception in your room. The package also comes with dinner for two at iCi Urban Bistro, the loan of his and hers Cartier watches from Tiny Jewel Box, a special gift from Hermès, and VIP access to CityCenterDC shops. Sofitel will also provide two first-class tickets on Air France and a three-night stay at the Sofitel Fauboug, located adjacent to the Parisian “White House,” the Elysée Palace. A presidential package, indeed!


Refuel between events with delicious meals without having to travel too far off the inaugural path. We recommend making reservations—or hosting your party—at any of these favorites, which also offer private dining and buyouts. Here’s the breakdown.


Joe’s Seafood

600 13th St. NW, 202-347-1500
Blocks from the parade route: 2
Buyout capacity: 406
Private dining rooms: Four (seating from 16 to 147).
In the event of no buyout, reservations will be accepted.

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-626-0015
Blocks from the parade route: 0
Buyout capacity: 300
Dinner reservations: Available after 6 PM.

Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St. NW, 202-347-4800
Blocks from the parade route: 0
Buyout capacity: 1,000 Dinner reservations: Traditionally available after 6 PM.
Private dining room: The Cabinet Room seats 50.

The Capital Grille
601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-737-6200
Blocks from the parade route: 0
Buyout: Booked for lunch.
Dinner reservations: Available after 5 PM
Private dining rooms: Two (seating for 12 and 30).

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
750 15th St. NW, 202-489-0140
Blocks from the parade route: 1
Buyout capacity: 516
Private dining rooms: Seven (seating from 10 to 150).
In the event of no buyout, reservations will be accepted.

Del Frisco’s Grille
1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-450-4686
Blocks from the parade route: 0
Buyout capacity: 100 to 150
Private dining rooms: Three (seating for 20 to 35).
In the event of no buyout, reservations will be accepted.

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