I’ve always been a history nerd. In high school, I took advanced placement United States history for fun. Needless to say, I was beyond excited when my family suggested visiting Washington, D.C. for spring break vacation. After all, my sister attends college nearby on the East Coast.
Vacations sound like a blast until you start actually trying to plan them. For hours and hours, my mom and I surfed the internet like crazy, looking for decently priced accommodations in downtown DC. We ran into some appalling finds- people’s sketchy basements on AirBnb, over-priced hotels with nasty reviews galore, and numerous other hotels that didn’t even have queen size beds available. We were starting to think that planning this trip only a month and a half in advance was an epic fail.
Eventually, we ran into a vacation rentals company called “Stay Alfred”. The whole setup looked almost too good to be true- a two bedroom apartment with a king and queen size bed in downtown DC. Their Trip Advisor page seemed to have good reviews. Slightly skeptical, we called and asked them about our travel dates.
A helpful reservation expert named Kyle told us that Stay Alfred’s properties in DC had been booking fast, but he had room for us if we were willing to move to another unit after three days. Figuring that a change of scenery wouldn’t be a bad idea, we booked a 3 night stay at Mass Court and another 3 night stay at Thomas Circle. Even with the unit change, our stay came out to about the same price or less than most of the DC hotels we had seen online. (In retrospect, I can’t believe that my mom and I ALMOST booked a hotel with only one room for about 200 dollars more than Stay Alfred.)
Let the vacation planning commence! Judging by the locations of the rentals we were staying in, nearly all the sights we were aiming to see in DC were pretty close by. My family decided that we would love to visit the National Mall, the White House, ALL the monuments, Arlington National Cemetery, Georgetown, Mount Vernon, and of course, the Smithsonian Museums. Since we were going to be staying downtown, we knew that we wouldn’t have to worry too much about finding restaurants or bars to pop into for a bite to eat. I was excited to see that Mass Court was even right near Chinatown!
Mass Court: We were half-way dead and tired of air travel by the time we arrived at our first rental. However, it was incredibly easy to check in. When we opened the door and turned on the light on in the apartment, we were amazed by how identical our unit looked to the online photos. Spotless, clean, and very modern. The apartment was incredibly spacious, and mom and dad were able to sleep upstairs in a king size bed while my sister and I took the queen size bed downstairs. Everyone had plenty of room to spread out all their belongings, and having two bathrooms was perfect. Not far down Massachusetts Avenue we were able to find a Wal-Mart to buy some groceries. Because we had a full kitchen in the unit, we were able to make ourselves a nice breakfast every day instead of spending more money in town. I can’t remember what floor, but upstairs there is both a gorgeous rooftop deck and pool with a hot tub. From both amenities, you can see a view of the Washington Monument glowing in the distance. There was a bit of construction and city noise outside, but I didn’t find it to be bothersome.
During our time at Mass Court, sight-seeing was incredibly convenient! While my family preferred to take taxis, we also were able to walk to Union Station to check out other transportation options such as tour buses or the Metro Rail. Since we had a rental car, we also drove down to Mount Vernon and Alexandria. The day after that, we took a taxi (right outside of our apartment) to Arlington National Cemetery and then walked the National Mall area to explore all of the capitol’s best monuments and the White House. We also spent a day exploring the wide variety of Smithsonian Museums. My family tends to freak out about getting lost, but navigating Washington, D.C. was incredibly simple as long as we looked at a map or asked a friendly local for directions.
Thomas Circle: Moving from the Mass Court into Thomas Circle turned out not to be a big deal at all. The staff at Thomas Circle was incredibly friendly, and we were also able to call Stay Alfred’s customer service line when we had a question about our check-in. While this unit wasn’t a 2 story loft like Mass Court, it was also beautiful, clean and identical to the photos online. Also, plenty of space! If you go to the 2nd floor near the business lounge, there’s even free coffee and tea out in the morning. My family liked this unit a bit more because the surrounding Logan Circle neighborhood was very quiet and full of interesting old churches. We stepped into one of the churches out of curiosity and witnessed a beautiful organ performance.
While staying at Thomas Circle, we took time to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Georgetown. We also went back to the Smithsonian because there is an overwhelming amount of museums to see. One day, we even walked around the Logan Circle area and checked out some nearby stores. My sister and I loved a local used-clothing boutique called Buffalo Exchange.
Overall, I couldn’t imagine that staying in a hotel would have given us the same comfort as our vacation rental. I think it’s normal for a bit of stress to arise during vacations, so it was PERFECT to have an abundance room and space for everyone in my family. I’ve stayed with my family in hotels where we only had 1 bathroom, and it would take us FOREVER to get ready in the morning. If you’re looking for twice the space of a hotel, Stay Alfred is the way to go. A trip to see all the sights in Washington, D.C. looked pretty intimidating at first, but I found that DC is not a difficult city to get around in as long as you stay somewhere downtown and hop on Google Maps for directions.
Simply put, Stay Alfred was a great choice for DC, and I highly recommend that others go witness the legendary monuments in our incredible capital.
-Allie, age 23
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