Skift Take

Prices now are certainly high, especially if you want to book a stay on Airbnb. Whether or not consumers pay an exorbitant rate to stay at someone else's apartment is another matter. Because as the president-elect's campaign song told us, you can't always get what you want.

Want to visit Washington, D.C. for the inauguration celebration for President-elect Donald Trump? While there are multiple cases of very large price hikes, it’s not as expensive as you’d think to book a hotel room or roomsharing listing — if you know where to look.

While Airbnb hosts and some hotel chains have jacked up rates to extreme levels that border on comical, there are still many affordable options for staying in Washington, D.C. close to the inauguration festivities on January 20.

Editor’s Note: See update, below

The Pricey

In fact, Airbnb seems to be among the more expensive options for travelers. An examination of a four-night stay coinciding with the inauguration and the same stay the previous week shows a severe inflation in Airbnb rates in particular.

The average Airbnb nightly rate for a stay January 18 to January 22 was $1,027; the average nightly rate for the previous week was just $176.

Take a look at a break down of rates in downtown Washington, D.C. both inauguration week and the previous week.

The average nightly price of a four-night stay for two people the week before the inauguration on Airbnb was $188 a night (calculated on December 19).

The average nightly price of a four-night stay for two people the week of the inauguration on Airbnb was $1,070 a night (calculated on on December 19).

The most egregious example of Airbnb price gouging seems to be this house being rented out for $10,000 a night. Most remaining listings that would normally be priced under $200, however, have been jacked up to over $1,000.

Unfortunately, those looking to spend their lavish inauguration weekend at the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C. will not be able to; every room is booked according to the hotel’s website.

Taking a look at hotel listings on Expedia, a huge jump in nightly rate is apparent as well. There still appear to be affordable lodging options at economy hotels, which is good news for travelers without thousands to spend on accommodations.

Type of Booking 1/18-1/23 1/11-1/16
Property avg $858 $196
3 star avg $774 $175
4 star avg $1,090 $219
5 star avg $939 $317

The “Bargains” has hotels from $399 per night in neighborhoods close to the U.S. Capitol, and has hotel rooms available in nearby suburbs starting at $252 per night. Booking’s chart, below, also reveals that occupancy is nowhere near the levels that typically lead to higher prices.

For those who like to book direct, the websites of Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt have many affordable hotel rooms close to downtown Washington. Rates at hotels flagged under Marriott brands seem to have the widest array of low-cost options.

The real bargain seems to be Airbnb competitor Homeaway; Homeaway has studio apartments for about $200, an $800 discount compared to similar listings on Airbnb.

While Homeaway’s search function says there are apartments available for under $100 a night, viewing details of these low-cost lists shows that the prices are generally twice as high as pictured on the search page.

Update January 6, 2016

While prices at some luxury properties and many Airbnb listings remain high despite drops, there are still deals to be found on, HomeAway, and other sites. When you search for, for instance, a pop-up message says rates “Prices in Washington, DC for your dates are the lowest we’ve seen in 40 days!” Only 59% of available rooms on the booking site are taken.

The overall property average on Expedia is down to $666 from $858. average is down to $210 from $252. Interestingly, Airbnb no longer actually lists the average, but a use of the slider reveals it to be near $850, also a decrease. There are several “new” listings for reasonable amounts, too, under $500 a night.

HomeAway has rooms available from $65 a night, down from $200, while Marriott has downtown hotels for $303 a night. Starwood and Hyatt have higher end properties in the city, brining their lowest prices up to $550 and $709, respectively.


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Tags: airbnb, trump, washington dc

Photo credit: Lodging rates in Washington D.C. are inflated the week of Donald Trump's upcoming inauguration. Storm clouds hang over Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

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