Hotels available for 2nd Obama inauguration

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With second inaugurations tending to draw fewer spectators, finding a place to stay in Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration won't be nearly as difficult as in 2009, according to travel experts.

City officials are expecting 600,000 to 800,000 visitors for the Jan. 21 inauguration, far less than the 1.8 million people who flooded the National Mall four years ago to witness the inauguration of America's first black president. Back then, some hotels sold out months in advance and city residents rented out their homes for hundreds of dollars a night.

This time, hotels say they're filling up more slowly, with rooms still available and prices at or slightly below where they were in 2009.

"Very few hotels are actually sold out at this point, so there's a lot of availability," said Elliott Ferguson, CEO of the tourism bureau Destination DC, who added that he expected demand to pick up after Christmas.

In 2009, hotel occupancy in the city for the night before the inauguration was 98 percent, and visitors paid an average daily rate of more than $600 that night, according to STR, a company that tracks hotel data.

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This time, some hotels still have half their rooms available. As a result, some establishments have relaxed minimum stays from four nights to three and could drop prices closer to the inauguration if demand does not increase.

Despite the muted enthusiasm, many of the city's posh hotels are still offering pricey packages. Visitors with an unlimited budget can check in to accommodations almost as grand and historic as the White House.

There are options for visitors looking to spend less, too, though some wallet-friendly choices have filled quickly.

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