Have you made your summer vacation plans? The official start of summer is just a few weeks away.
Maybe you’ve been avoiding making plans because you’re not going to have as much time off as you’d like this year. You may be busy trying an important case or working on a big project. Perhaps you just started a new job and haven’t accrued any vacation time yet, or maybe you hit a financial bump in the road and can’t afford much this year.
Lucky you live in one of the most popular vacation destination in the world! But I’m not going to tell you to traipse around the Smithsonian or go see the new monument du jour (although that’s fun too), because you can do that anytime, so it isn’t really special.
What’s fun and economical is pretending you’re from out of town. Take a look at these three ways to plan an exciting vacation right where you live.
- Stay in a hotel
D.C. is one of those odd cities where it costs less to stay in a hotel on the weekend than it does during the week, because hotel rooms here are packed on weekdays with sultans and lobbyists and diplomats who presumably don’t even look at the price when they book. The same hotel room can be anywhere from $20 to $200 more on a weekday than a weekend. You won’t even need to take time off from work to take advantage of deals like this.
The Donovan, a Kimpton Hotel, is on Travelocity for $339 a night on Wednesday, June 8, and three nights later it’s $139. This sleek, 192-room boutique-style hotel overlooking Thomas Circle is the perfect spot for a quick getaway. You can work out at the fitness center, then spend the afternoon sunning yourself at the rooftop pool while sipping cocktails. Day passes to area pools are between $20 and $50 a day, per person, so look at all the extra you get staying overnight for a few more bucks. Have dinner at their popular Japanese restaurant, Zentan, or head out to a different neighborhood for the evening and hit a couple rooftop bars while you’re at it.
- Stay in a hotel just for the day
No, day rates and hourly rates are not the same. Hourly rates are for secret lovers having trysts, expensive hookers and Eliot Spitzer. Day rates were invented for business people. Some business travelers arrive from another country early in the morning and need a place to freshen up and take a nap before their meeting. Others have lots of time in between meetings but aren’t staying overnight. Either way, they need someplace to go.
Because most hotels that offer day rates cater to business travelers, these hotels are often near airports. Three local ones that advertise day rates are near Dulles — the Hilton, Holiday Inn and Marriott. Day rates run about $100, more or less, and rooms are advertised as being available from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but you might be able to negotiate the time.
So here’s how it works: You book a room for the day — say it’s Wednesday, hump day — and you and your sweetie call in sick and go enjoy eight hours of uninterrupted fun. Smuggle in a bottle of champagne, a container of strawberries and some whipped cream, and polish it all off in a king-sized bed while watching a dirty movie at 9 in the morning. Sleep it off, order room service for lunch, then hit and the gym and the pool.
I know what you’re thinking, you can save money and do this at home. The dog will scratch at the door to get out, you’ll go throw in a load of wash while your honey’s in the bathroom, and those piles of clothes and shoes next to the bed will not act as an aphrodisiac. You’ve got to get out and go somewhere different, where they have crisp, cool, new sheets and fluffy, white towels. What you need for your getaway to truly feel like a vacation is a change of venue. That’s why the third option is a good choice too.
- Try Airbnb
Here, you can get a whole house (or apartment) or just a room. On the one hand, you don’t really want a whole house, because you don’t want to cook and do dishes. What kind of vacation would that be? On the other hand, if you get just a room, the people you rent it from will be able to hear you in there. And what kind of vacation would that be? But if you look at these listings carefully, you should be able to find a number of situations that would suit you perfectly.
Many of the whole house listings are really reasonably priced. And not all of the single room listings mean you’ll be sharing the bathroom with grad students in their boxers — some have separate entrances, and some are efficiency apartments.
You need to relax, recharge and get away this summer — even if you don’t go far. Being busy or being broke shouldn’t stop you. And if you do it right, that eight-to-24-hour vacation might be the most memorable one you take!