140 miles from Philadelphia (2 hours and 40 minutes by car)
Surrounded by grand Victorian mansions on the oak-lined streets of the historic Dupont Circle neighborhood, Swann House delivers everything you expect of a good B&B. From the unpretentious, helpful staff to the plush, quiet, stately rooms and common areas, it’s obvious that mimicking — or, rather, improving on — the comforts of home is the priority of owners Richard and Mary Ross at this restored 1883 inn. Breakfast (waffles and bacon, muffins and coffee) is served in a formal dining room, but it’s a friendly event, shared with a diverse grouping of guests. (We struck up a conversation with two grandmotherly types about the joys of downloading music on “the iTunes.”) Our suite — the Parisienne — boasted a cozy sitting room, the softest, most comfortable pile of comforters and pillows we’d laid our heads on maybe ever, and a giant, spa-perfect shower. All of which made tearing ourselves away from the actual reason we came — the history and the shopping and the museums and restaurants and the D.C. hustle that sits (conveniently) outside the Swann House door — something to actually look forward to each night.
Book it: 1808 New Hampshire Avenue NW, 202-265-4414, swannhouse.com.
Rate per night: $175-$395; 2-night minimum on weekends, but shorter stays can sometimes be accommodated.
Snacks: House-made madeleines, assorted nuts, cheese and crackers in the afternoon; complimentary sherry, iced tea and lemonade in the evening.
Meals on-site: Breakfast, Continental-style.
Don’t miss: Sounds morbid, but be sure to hit the so-called “Hinckley Hilton” — where Hinckley tried to assassinate Reagan. It’s a stone’s throw from the inn, and not marked by signs or placards, so the tourist factor is low.
Insider tip: Limited off-street parking is available only by advance reservation for $14 per day, plus tax.
Consider the train: It’s as little as $88, and gets you there in two hours instead of almost three. Bonus: The recipes for our favorite breakfast dishes — cheese blintz pie and egg soufflé — are online.