This opened-in-1816 hotel remains steeped in Washington history, even though the rooms where Lincoln lived, Coolidge governed, and Martin Luther King Jr. wrote have long since been renovated away. Today's Willard, a bit like the political world it esteems, is grand in public, bland in private: its majestic lobby dazzles with soaring Corinthian columns and a marble mosaic floor, while the 332 guest rooms, while spacious and comfortable, are comparatively spare. Café du Parc sells enticing French pastries to go—a great breakfast and a surprisingly great deal.
Tip: The Willard is admirably green: low-energy lightbulbs, lit by wind-generated power, are standard, and the hotel composts food waste.
Room to Book: Suite 1212 (the Jenny Lind Suite) is all romance, with a white-draped wrought-iron bed tucked into a roof turret, and a double Jacuzzi looking out a giant porthole at the Washington Monument.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.