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Are Hotels Really Sold Out for the Inauguration Already?

The District has 29,000 hotel rooms and the number swells to 95,000 in the greater Washington area. For people looking for places to stay for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20, the trick is finding a vacant room. Stories have abounded that all the rooms are already booked for that week.

We put the question to Destination DC, a tourism organization that keeps tabs on such things. Victoria Isley, a spokeswoman, said there are a few hundred rooms left in the District and, probably, a percentage more in the suburbs. Exactly how many and where they are is not clear, she added, noting that Destination DC is trying to conduct a survey.

In normal periods, hotels release rooms through a central, online global distribution system. But for the inaugural, the city's hotels are controlling rooms more closely, through an on-site management system, Isley said. She said that some groups have reserved rooms but have yet to pay deposits or sign contracts, making the situation somewhat fluid.

Usually, hotels release blocks because of late cancellations. In this case, however, there are likely to be far fewer cancellations because groups with rooms can find other people to take the reservations, said Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington.

"I'd be really surprised if any group gives any up," said Durso, 58. "I've lived here all my life and never seen anything like this."

By David A Nakamura  |  November 19, 2008; 3:09 PM ET  | Category:  Housing
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I looked for a room within a day or two of the election. To find something decent under $300 a night, I ended up in Baltimore. Hope the trains run OK that day!

Posted by: tbd61 | November 20, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

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