Residence Inn Washington, DC / Capitol Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Food freebies and a convenient location make this Residence Inn a great value for families. A free hot breakfast buffet is served each morning, and a free "social hour" dinner buffet is served on Mondays through Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m (which includes a meat, veggie, salad, and dessert). The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums. If that isn't enough, kids will love the indoor heated pool, and parents will love the large, suite-style rooms with fully equipped kitchens.
Washington Plaza Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
A five-minute walk to the White House and within five blocks of three Metro lines, the Washington Plaza is perfectly placed for families wanting to tour the capital's top attractions. Plus, there's a terrific outdoor pool deck for summer months, a reasonably priced restaurant with a kids' menu, and spacious (and, in many cases, newly renovated) rooms.
Embassy Suites Hotel Washington, DC Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This hotel offers big suites with sinks, refrigerators, microwaves, and two 32-inch flat-screen TVs; a really solid free breakfast buffet; a small but recently renovated pool; and a fun atrium lobby with palm trees, waterfalls, glass elevators, and a koi pond where kids can feed the fish. The on-site Italian restaurant offers a lunch buffet and a kids' menu with fettuccine, pizza, chicken fingers, and the like. And the staff is tolerant of (and used to!) rambunctious kids running around the lobby. The rooms aren't pristine, and it's not within easy walking distance of D.C.'s prime tourist spots, but otherwise this is an excellent family choice.
Courtyard Washington Embassy Row Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Located three blocks from the White House, this hotel caters to families with little perks that keep both parents and kids happy: do-it-yourself laundry, freshly baked cookies all day, a kids' menu at on-site Nage Restaurant, and a small indoor pool. Standard rooms here are large (450 to 500 square feet), and can fit up to five people using a crib or rollaway bed (both available for free). The hotel offers a family package, the main benefit of which is getting a second guest room at 50 percent off. Guests also get free access to the pool and gym facilities at the YMCA across the street.
Omni Shoreham Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Given the Shoreham's excellent outdoor pool, ample space to play outside (assuming there's not a wedding going on), and a great location near the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, it is an excellent choice for families in the summer. Kids get a free backpack upon arrival with games and treats from the Omni Sensational Kids program, including a first-aid kit, night-light, and outlet covers (for parents).
Embassy Suites Hotel Washington, DC -Convention Center Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Families looking to spread out in a home away from home will find what they need at this Embassy Suites, where all guest rooms are suites with pullout sofas, a mini-fridge, and a microwave; cribs are available for free. Kids will enjoy the indoor pool (open 5 a.m. to midnight) and the on-demand video games and movies (each suite has a 32-inch flat-screen TV in the living room). Room rates include a free (and ample) breakfast buffet, and the on-site restaurant offers a kids' menu. When it's time to hit the sites, the hotel is walking distance to the White House, the Smithsonian, and the Mall. (Plus there's a trapeze school right across the street!) The only negative: The hotel is showing some wear and tear, and is due for a renovation.
The Carlyle Suites Hotel Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Parents shouldn't be intimidated by the sleek Art Deco lobby and tranquil atmosphere of this gem near Dupont Circle -- touches like kitchenettes and kids' menus make family trips here trouble free. Besides fully outfitted kitchenettes, standard studio suites average a lofty 450 to 500 square feet and come with pullout couches. For families not cooking in their kitchenettes, the informal on-site restaurant, Twist, has menu items just for kids (chicken tenders, burgers, mac and cheese), and for just $6 kids can order an entree, drink, and dessert; tots under three eat for free.