The Howard Johnson's hotel and restaurant chain has signed a long-term management contract to operate the International Hotel, a fixture for 20 years on the northeast side of Thomas Circle in Northwest Washington, according to a spokeswoman for the chain.

International Associates, headed by owners of Blake Construction Co., one of Washington's biggest development firms, sold the hotel to Code Washington Associates last December for $14 million and an undisclosed amount for the building's furniture, fixtures and equipment, said a Blake spokesman. The Blake officials sold the hotel because "we're not hotel operators," and prefer to concentrate on their specialty of developing commercial property, he added.

The hotel has changed ownership and names so frequently since it was completed in 1963 that in local real estate circles it is sometimes called the Hotel Formerly. It has been the International Inn, the Hotel America, the Hotel Sonesta, the Ramada Inn and now the International Hotel.

Howard Johnson's has been managing the hotel since early December, when it signed the management contract with Code Washington. The Howard Johnson's spokeswoman said the chain and the owners of the hotel are working on renovation plans. Although final decisions have not been made, the management "will not put an orange roof on it." The bright orange roofs are the most visible symbol of chain's establishments along the nation's highways.

Little evidence of the Howard Johnson's presence is evident in the hotel lobby. A small sign at the entrance and brochures at the "concierge desk" identify the new management. Little else has changed, including the bright red and orange macau and the green parrots that share a large cage near the entrance to the domed swimming pool.

Paul Dopp, a Code Washington owner, would not comment on his plans for the hotel.