Willard Hotel — places to visit in Washington DC
The Willard InterContinental Washington is a historic luxury Beaux-Arts hotel located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. Among its facilities are numerous luxurious guest rooms, several restaurants, the famed Round Robin Bar, the Peacock Alley series of luxury shops, and voluminous function rooms. It is two blocks east of the White House, and two blocks south of the Metro Center station of the Washington Metro. As of May 2014, rooms at the Willard Hotel start at $489 per night, with suites starting at $960 per night. It is a Washington tradition since Franklin Pierce that presidents spend the night before their inauguration at the Willard Hotel. The term “lobbyist” actually refers to the lobby of the Willard Hotel. When Ulysses S. Grant was president, he frequently used to go to the bar at the Willard after a hard day’s work at the White House. When it became known that he would go here, people started hanging out in the lobby waiting for a chance to talk to him to sell him on a government job or get a government contract of some kind. He said, “These damn lobbyists never leave me alone.” Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in his hotel room at the Willard in 1963 in the days before his March on Washington. Pennsylvania Avenue became more and more run down during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Willard Hotel shared this fate. In 1968, the hotel was shuttered, and the building became derelict. A huge auction was held to sell everything down to the plumbing fixtures and the terra cotta structures on the exterior of the building. The Willard was slated to be torn down. Eventually, the Intercontinental hotel chain bought the property and did a total renovation. Nowadays, the Willard Hotel has resumed its roll as one of the foremost hotels in the city.