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Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

auckland
Level Contributor
68 posts
15 reviews
Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Hi,

We will be arriving by train at the Union station around 8pm at night. We are a family of 5, 2 adults and kids aged 5, 8 and 12. We are yet to book accommodation as finding it quite expensive and getting confused where to look. We would be happy to do airbnb or hotel and have a budget of around $250ish per night. I guess it would be handy to be reasonably central as we will be very much doing the tourist things.

Could someone please recommend a hotel or locations we should be focused on. Happy to take the metro etc to get to places too. Would be good not to travel too far when we first arrive at 8pm.

On that note will safety be a concern getting off the train at 8pm?

Thanks

16 replies to this topic
Fairfax County...
Level Contributor
2,771 posts
29 reviews
1. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Union Station is pretty safe at 8 pm. As the commuters thin out, the few homeless people may be more noticeable, but they generally do not pose a safety issue. They only beg for food or money, usually in a discreet way.

Every time we talk about hotel or housing cost, we need exact check in and check out dates. July 1 to 7 can be drastically different than July 2 to 8, as hotel prices changes constantly. Your issue will be find a hotel that can accomodate the five of you in one room. But that should not be a surprise to you, as I find most hotels outside US often won't even accept three people in a room.

auckland
Level Contributor
68 posts
15 reviews
2. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Hi, yes sorry I missed that part. We are there for a weekend 28 September to 01 October.

Fairfax County...
Level Contributor
2,771 posts
29 reviews
3. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

You may try the Embassy Suites Convention Center. They are quoting a special "Honors weekender rate" of $232 per night (before taxes) for a two room suites with two double bed and one sofabed foryour dates. That rate is only for Hilton Honors members, but you can join online for free before you make that booking.

…hilton.com/en/…index.html

They have free buffet breakfast.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 09:08
auckland
Level Contributor
68 posts
15 reviews
4. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Wow that's helpful, thanks

washington dc
Level Contributor
4,789 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

A vacation rental apt. or house. is a great option for a family, and there are plenty of nice houses that will sleep five in good locations, right in the city. Most offer free street parking with a visitor pass.

DC is a small city, but no one place will be walking distance to all the sites, so look for something near a Metro station. (Although with five, you might wind up taking taxi/Lyft/Uber)

There are three primary listing sites for vacation rentals now; VRBO or Homeaway.com. (Both now owned by Expedia with basically the same listings.) and Airbnb.com. All the sites now charge a 9%-12% booking fee.

Many owners also post on Craigslist, which is actually very easy to search - but legitimate owners will always also be listed on one of the main sites, or have their own website. There are LOADS of scam listings on CL but it does give a savvy guest the opportunity to book directly with the owner and skip the booking fees.

1. Search results can vary a lot depending on what device you are using - desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.

2. Enter your exact dates if you have them, but if you are flexible you can search without dates.

Sorting by neighborhood will make it easier. On Homeaway/VRBO you can type a neighborhood in the search box - "Washington DC Columbia Heights" for example. On Airbnb you have to click on more filters, then you get a list of neighborhoods. (Too many actually, and some take you to a wrong location.)

The most convenient neighborhoods for tourists, with lots of rentals and nearby Metro stations are - Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, U St., Eastern Market, Foggy Bottom, Penn Quarter and Capitol Hill. (Woodley Park and Cleveland Park are also good, but have few rentals.) For all listings, but especially Capitol Hill - check the map first thing. Many people stretch the boundaries, but this is especially bad for Capitol Hill.

For larger houses, check the neighborhoods of Petworth and Brookland.

Some good bargains can also be found in more "developing" neighborhoods like LeDroit Park, Shaw, Bloomingdale.

Homeaway/VRBO gives you a map (usually) with a pin on the actual property. On Airbnb the "map" just gives you a big circle, but you can (and should) email the owner and ask for the exact nearest cross streets.

3.On Homeaway click on the "sort by" box and choose "price low to high." You might not be looking for the cheapest, but it makes it easier to organize. This will also let you scroll past all the bad listings. Don't even bother looking at anything under about $120.00 per night.

You can also do a "map search" - but you have to enlarge the map quite a bit to see all the rentals. This is useful however, to find properties close to a Metro Station. Metro Stations are blue squares with a white M.

Do not even look as "Best Match," "Most popular," or "HomeAway Sort" - these are meaningless.

4. If you find a place you like - WRITE DOWN the listing number on a piece of paper! You might be looking at several properties, get confused and because of search algorithms, you might not be able to find it again.

5. Rates vary a lot by season. "Average Rate" is meaningless. You need exact dates to get exact rates. Also check the cleaning fee & tax policy. Some owners include cleaning & tax in the rate, some don't. It can make a big difference.

6. Email the owner. Tell them a bit about yourselves, ask any questions. Airbnb & Homeaway favor properties with "Instant Book" or "Book it Now" but you don't have to click these. (In fact Airbnb actually hides listings that don't offer instant book - so if you want to see all the properties, you have to actively click a box to switch off the instant book.)

If you want, post the exact listing number, or better yet, a link here and we can tell you more about the location, etc.

Airbnb.com in DC has over 6000 listings, and can be hard to sort through, but if you know the city well and are looking for a specific neighborhood, it can be a good option.

Do be aware that most condos and rental apts. do not allow Airbnb rentals, so be absolutely sure you are renting only from an owner of the entire property, or with written permission from their landlord or condo board.

Several posters on this Forum want me to "disclose" that I own a vacation rental myself. I'm happy to. If you can find it among the 3,000 or so available, you will be very lucky! (But it's a bit tight for 5 people, and your budget is twice as much, so you can afford more space.)

auckland
Level Contributor
68 posts
15 reviews
6. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Thats so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Sarajevo, Bosnia...
Level Contributor
56 posts
16 reviews
7. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

I would just like to echo the previous respondents. I live in DC, but in a small apartment (because, let's be honest, housing prices are insane). However, my family regularly visits me and they are also five, with two adults and my youngest brother is 9. They do not fit in my apartment, so they usually choose Airbnb or Embassy Suites. They stay at the Embassy Suites in Georgetown when they do because it is actually on the edge of Georgetown and very close to DuPont, including the eateries as well as the metro (approximately a ten-minute walk and in the opposite direction of the bars, so safe at all hours).

Craigslist can be a bit iffy, but in DC it is usually very good. I have never heard of it being used for vacation rentals, but I know it is a relatively reliable source for long-term housing here, so temporary housing makes sense.

I would also add that the metro is always reasonably safe, including both Union Station and the outlying stations. There is a monitor by the entrance to every station and guards commonly ride the trains, especially at night. They close at midnight. As the previous respondent stated, there will be some homeless individuals and they are more noticeable in the evenings when crowds are thinner. However, nobody will give you any trouble. It is really one of the most secure places to be in the evening. You might have to explain the complexities of homelessness to your kids, but otherwise, there's no danger. Really the only problem with going late in the evening is that trains only come every ten minutes or so instead of every five so you have to stand up a little longer.

washington dc
Level Contributor
4,789 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

There is lots of wrong information in the above post. Thought the Metro is generally safe, there are not any monitors at the entrances for Metro stations. There are station agents in a booth who may or may not be helpful. "Guards" do not ride the trains. There are emergency buttons in every car that may or may not work. The fact is that in any city, with any system, systems fail. 99.9% of the time you will be fine. But it is always a good idea to have an emergency plan, or at least know how to activate the flashlight on your cell phone.

Hope, RI
Level Contributor
204 posts
9. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

We have stayed at the Embassy Suites in Georgetown many tines. The rooms are quite large and include a fridge and microwave. The full buffet breakfast and nightly happy hour are included in the cost of the room. This is quite a savings for a family of five. (We are a family of four)

Sarajevo, Bosnia...
Level Contributor
56 posts
16 reviews
10. Re: Washington Accomodation help and train station safety?

Victoria m

I apologize if I was unclear. By “agent” I meant the people who sit in the booths. They generally discourage any kind of crime in the metro (plus the fact that there are cameras). No they aren’t going to draw a sword and rush to your defense, but you aren’t alone in a dark building is what I was saying. And by “guards” I meant the transportation police and regular police officers. I am young and live in DC so I am often on the metro at night (usually several times a week). Officers frequently ride at night to patrol, usually sitting in those back two seats behind the window. I can understand how you might have missed them, especially if you don’t often ride late at night. But these factors add to the safety. As you said, there’s always that one case in a thousand, but that’s true anywhere you go.

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