Contrary to popular belief, hotel rooms are still available for the innauguration

Is it true that hotels have already sold out of hotel rooms for President Obama’s second inauguration?

D.C.’s chief tourism officer says no. Having talked to managers of some of the top hotels, Elliott L. Ferguson, chief executive of Destination D.C., said rooms are still available but that hotels are almost exclusively requiring guests to book rooms for multiple nights.

“There’s a lot of availability in Washington in terms of hotel rooms,” Ferguson said. He and his staff said hotels including the Capital Hilton, the Fairmont, the St. Regis and many others still had rooms available.

“I think the key thing is understanding that those hotels usually require a stay of three or four nights. So somebody might search for a hotel room for the inauguration and it might say that there are no rooms available for that search because of that requirement.”

An estimated 1.8 million people endured frosty temperatures to witness Obama’s first inaugural address in 2009, the largest crowd to attend any event in the history of the city, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

D.C. is not expecting the same number of people this coming January. “The reality is it’s not as historic this time around,” he said. “Anticipating 1.8 million might be a bit of a stretch.”

Even though Obama will be officially sworn-in on Sunday, Jan. 20, inauguration day will take place on Monday the 21st. That is also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which could add to the draw for out-of-town visitors interested in both the inauguration and the new King Memorial, which was unveiled last year. The city is also playing host to Delta Sigma Theta, a predominantly black sorority that is celebrating its centennial with events at Howard University and downtown from Jan. 11-13.

For those who can’t find a hotel room to their liking for the inauguration, locals have already begun putting their houses, condos, rooms and basements on Craigslist. Here’s a one-bedroom apartment in Capitol Hill offered at $305 per night (the living room has a couch).

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.

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