Washington-Area Hotels Book Up For Inauguration

Good luck getting a hotel room if you're coming to Washington, D.C., in January to watch President-elect Barack Obama be inaugurated. Hotels in the area are already booked.

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ARI SHAPIRO, host:

The inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Barack Obama are still more than two months away. But if you're planning to attend and haven't booked a hotel room yet, you may need a tent. As NPR's Asma Khalid reports, hotels are already booked solid.

ASMA KHALID: At Washington, D.C.'s Ritz-Carlton, phones were ringing off the hook the day after President-elect Obama won the election. By the end of the week, every single room - the cheapest $1,100 a night - was sold out.

Ms. ELIZABETH MULLINS (General Manager, Ritz-Carlton): The inauguration is sort of our Super Bowl, only it happens once every four years.

KHALID: Ritz-Carlton General Manager Elizabeth Mullins says this year's sellout was the fastest she's seen.

Ms. MULLINS: We always sold out, but we sold out more towards the middle of December, as opposed to two days after the election actually happened.

KHALID: With business slow because of the economic downturn, hotels are trying hard to capitalize on this political extravaganza. At the Ritz, room prices are about double the normal January rate. And at the nearby Four Seasons, a new 4,000-square-foot suite, complete with bulletproof glass, is going for $15,000 a night with a minimum five-night stay. You won't find a place to stay at the motel Red Roof Inn either where rooms are a mere $359 a night. Even local residents are hoping to cash in on the room shortage. One ad on Craigslist is offering a three-bedroom house near the Capitol. $12,000 for the week. Asma Khalid, NPR News.

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