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Hotel Rooms Expensive, Scarce for Inauguration

Those planning to visit Washington, D.C., for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump can expect to spend a lot of money on their accommodations.

The latest survey conducted by CheapHotels.org revealed that hotel rates are reaching record rates in the nation’s capital for Inauguration Day.

Currently, about 15 percent of hotels in central Washington are still offering available rooms for January 20, the day Trump will be sworn in as the country’s 45th president, the organization noted. On average, District hotels are charging guests 367 percent more than usual.

Some hotels are hiking up their rates even more. For example, the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, which is located less than a 5-minute walk from Dupont Circle, is charging $1,419 for a room on Inauguration Day — an increase of more than 800 percent compared to its regular rates.

An even bigger price gouger is the Liaison Hotel Capitol Hill, which is located less than one mile from the U.S. Capitol. The hotel is charging guests $1,499 for a room, a price tag that is almost 1000 percent more than is typical of the establishment, based on figures provided by CheapHotels.org.

For the cheapest available room in the center of Washington on Jan. 20, inauguration-goers must spend about $500. If arriving a day earlier on Jan. 19 and individuals are willing to stay two nights, they will spend at least $90.

Slightly more affordable hotels are available only on the outskirts of the city, around Ronald Reagan Airport and in the suburbs.

“Never have hotel rates been pricier in the history of Washington, D.C.,” said Barbara Adams of CheapHotels.org. “So attendees will have to spend even slightly more than for Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013.”

For the last inauguration in 2013, hotels in D.C. had a 66.8 percent occupancy rate and an average room rate of $444 from Jan. 18 to Jan. 20, according to the hotel industry group STR. Over that same period, hotels in the D.C. area had a 64.1 percent occupancy rate and the average room rate was $232.

The numbers were way up for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when hotels in D.C. had a 96.8 percent occupancy rate with an average room rate of $602. Hotels in the metro area saw an 86 percent occupancy rate with an average room rate of $333.

“That’s worth somewhere, a little bit more than a billion dollars to the Washington economy … could be $1.4 billion depending on the mix of visitors and where they stay,” said Stephen Fuller, a Dwight Schar faculty chair and professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Fuller told WTOP that he believes up to 400,000 people are likely to be in the District on Jan. 20, which falls on a Friday, for Trump’s swearing-in.

“The economic impacts will spread to Baltimore; there aren’t enough hotel rooms to accommodate all of these [people],” Fuller said.

There will also be large protests.

“Many different demonstrations are expected; 500,000 is a reasonable planning number — some people are using as high as one million,” Fuller said.

Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington are hoping to draw large numbers, as is the ANSWER Coalition, a group founded to oppose the 2003 Iraq War, which is planning a protest on Inauguration Day.

There’s also an offsetting economic effect for the presidential inauguration, Fuller added, which has never been measured or quantified.

“A lot of people who are residents leave Washington at times like these, and so there is a displacement effect, and nobody’s figured out what that is,” he said.

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Stacy Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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