WASHINGTON — Visitors coming to the nation's capital for President Obama's second inauguration can't stay in the one place President Ronald Reagan's family once called an eight-star hotel. That spot is the White House, and it's booked for the next four years.
But because second inaugurations tend to draw fewer spectators, finding a place to stay in Washington won't be nearly as difficult as in 2009.
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. 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 four years ago.
''Very few hotels are actually sold out at this point, so there's a lot of availability,'' said Elliott Ferguson, chief executive of the tourism bureau Destination D.C.
In 2009, hotel occupancy in the city for the night before the inauguration was 98 percent, and visitors paid an average rate of more than $600 that night, said STR, a company that tracks hotel data.
This time, some hotels still have half their rooms available. Some establishments have relaxed minimum stays to three nights and could drop prices closer to the inauguration.