Looking for a hotel for the Inauguration? Try Williamsburg.

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December 5, 2008

12:04 AM

Students at the College of William and Mary may notice an influx of visitors during the Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguration. Washington’s 95,000 hotel rooms are full — completely booked — and now observers are seeking available rooms as far away as Williamsburg.

The Hilton at the Washington Dulles International Airport, approximately 27 miles from the capital, has no vacancies on Jan. 19.

“[We have been booked] I would say maybe three months just prior to Election Day, so, since August or September,” said Maria, a member of the Hilton’s reservation staff who would not give her last name. “Most of the hotels in the area are booked up.”

Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty told The New York Times that attendance could reach 3 million.

This poses a problem for the millions of observers hoping to attend and hundreds of bands chosen to participate in the Inauguration parade, and many have been forced to book rooms hours away from the capital.

The marching band from Lowdnes School, a public high school in Valdosta, Ga., plans to stay the night in Williamsburg.

“We’ll probably leave Williamsburg at 3 or 4 a.m.,” Charles Todd, the school’s band director, told The Washington Post. “We’re just anticipating the traffic to be horrendous that day.”

At least three Williamsburg area hotels have been booked for the Jan. 19.

The Residence Inn on Richmond Road and the Marriott Courtyard Williamsburg on McLaws Circle have been completely booked. The Fairfield Inn and Suites on Richmond Rd. still has at least two vacant rooms for Jan. 19, but the rooms are going for $149, compared to the approximately $84 cost of renting a room today.

The Marriott Vacation Club at Ford’s Colony is also booked for the days surrounding Obama’s swearing in.
Since the club is composed of time-shares, a Marriot representative could not be absolutely sure if this is related to the Inauguration, but she was certain at least some timeshare owners planned to attend the Inauguration.

Williamsburg is not alone.

According to a Marriott representative who would not give her name for fear of management reprisal, the hotel chain is booked during Inauguration in cities as far away as Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The representative said many people made reservations before Election Day in anticipation of attending.

The Hospitality House, however, has plenty of vacancies the day before the presidential Inauguration, and the reservation desk expected a miniscule crowd the days preceding the Inauguration. The same is true for multiple low-rate hotels in the area, including Super Motel Eight, Red Roof Inn, EconoLodge and the Days Inn.

No tickets are required to attend many of the Inauguration ceremonies, but accommodations — and good views — will be hard to find this January.

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