Best of Washington: Steals and Deals

Where to pay less for luxury; A-list hotel bargains; why a beachfront home may be a smart buy; discounts on the Web.

By: Leslie Milk, Garrett M. Graff

Check-In Time

If you’re looking for a weekend escape but don’t want to travel, try one of the area’s luxury hotels. Because of the falloff in business travel on weekends, many high-end hotels like the Ritz and the Fairmont cut their rates—and some even offer special deals for locals.

The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner (1700 Tysons Blvd.; 703-506-4300) offers bargain rates on the weekend, including one package with a bottle of Champagne and seasonal fruit as well as breakfast for two for $259. Or upgrade to the club level, where five complimentary buffets are set up in the club lounge throughout the day—breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, and late night—for $299, nearly $200 less than the weekday rate.

The luxurious Mandarin Oriental (1330 Maryland Ave., SW; 202-554-8588) on DC’s Southwest waterfront, where rooms normally start at $400, is offering a deal through the end of December for residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia: Show your driver’s license and get a room starting at $255.

The Marriott Wardman Park (2660 Woodley Rd., NW; 202-328-2983) in DC’s Woodley Park also offers a “neighborhood” deal of $119 if you have a driver’s license with the 20008 Zip code and call the hotel directly.

If the holidays stress you out, take advantage of “Ohm for the Holidays” from Kimpton Hotels, including DC’s Hotel Helix (1430 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-462-9001), Palomar (2121 P St., NW; 202-448-1800), Hotel George (15 E St., NW; 202-347-4200), and others, and the Morrison House (116 S. Alfred St.; 703-838-8000) in Old Town Alexandria—where local residents can get a relaxing, Zenlike night away. The reduced rate, available through January 6, includes plush slipper socks, in-room TV programming of yoga and Pilates sessions, and a basket of exercise accessories to use while you’re there. Rates range from $129 to $149 a night at the DC hotels and 15 percent off the best available rate at the Morrison House.

Time to Buy a Beach House

Now! Bethany Beach agent Leslie Kopp says prices have come down significantly: “Serious sellers are negotiating.” In Rehoboth, house prices are down 10 to 20 percent from last year, when prices had already begun to slide. “Sellers are anxious,” says Rehoboth agent Debbie Reed. “They don’t want to carry the property into the winter season.” The biggest bargains, Reed says, are houses in the $1-million-to-$2-million range, where the large inventory makes this a buyer’s market.

Outlet Finds Worth the Trip

The best deals at outlets are often luxury brands that seldom if ever go on sale at department stores.

St. John Company Store: Classic St. John knits are up to 50 percent off. Prime Outlets in Queenstown; 410-827-5600.

Burberry: You’ll pay $599 for a trench coat that sold for $1,200 retail. The catch? The coats here are six months older than those in retail stores. Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets; 703-737-2300.

Coach: Most handbags are strictly for Coach outlets, but a few were in retail stores just a few months earlier. Queens town, 410-827-4930; Leesburg, 703-771-7881.

Movado Company Store: Watches are 30 to 70 percent off retail. Leesburg, 703-737-6580.

Tumi: The American luggage maker discounts discontinued styles. Leesburg, 703-737-2287.

Neiman Marcus Last Call: Merchandise that’s left after Neiman’s First Call and Last Call in-store sales, plus catalog merchandise, is sent here. Arundel Mills, Han over, Md.; 410-379-0159.

Leesburg Corner furniture stores: Some of the furniture and other home goods are a bit shopworn, but you can find major savings. At Pottery Barn, mahogany dining chairs that retail for $269 were less than $100. Crate & Barrel, 703-669-5003; Pottery Barn Outlet, 703-443-8113; Restoration Hardware, 703-443-1162.

Waterford Wedgwood: The crystal is all made by Waterford—but some patterns are also sold in retail stores (those with names), and some are exclusive to the factory store (those with numbers). The Wedgwood china is also the real thing, including patterns currently sold in retail stores. Leesburg, 703-443-9696.

Discounts on Discounts

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets have a VIP Shoppers Club that gives extra discounts to members. A recent member event offered 25 percent off purchases at the Off Fifth Saks Fifth Avenue outlet and 20 percent off any purchase of more than $150 at the Restoration Hardware outlet.

At Prime Outlets in Queenstown, Maryland, the 1 Club gives members extra discounts at selected stores.

Loehmann’s Insider Club gives members a 15-percent birthday discount and points on all purchases that can be used to save on future purchases. Joining these shoppers clubs is free.

Senior—or Middle Age—Savings

Are you over 50? If so, you’ll get a 10-percent discount at most stores in Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets every Tuesday. For a similar Tuesday discount at Queenstown, you have to be 55.

Dot-Com Deals

Designer Deals: Yoox.com offers discounts of up to 50 percent on end-of-season designer clothes from more than 300 leading designers.

Tops for Techies: Dealnews.com started life as Deal-Mac.com, specializing in finding the lowest prices on Apple hardware and software. It has branched out and now links you to sites with deals on cameras and computer hardware as well as coupons galore.

One-Stop Discount Shop: Bensbargains.net is a central clearinghouse for all the deals floating around the Web each day, everything from digital cameras to rose bouquets to mountain bikes.

Bargain Hunting as Extreme Sport

Baltimore discounter C-Mart (8511 Landover Rd., Landover; 240-487-2900; cmartdiscount.com) last year opened up a Washington outpost in the shadow of FedEx Field. Its cavernous warehouse makes most discount chains look like Tiffany. Merchandise ranges from corn flakes to couture. You’ll find such brand names as Drexel Heritage furniture and clothing designers Donna Karan, Prada, Petit Bateau, and Betsey Johnson. You’ll also find goods of more dubious origin.

Furniture and rugs are the big draw. Chinese, Pakistani, and Persian rugs can be 50 percent below retail. An armoire from Magnussen’s Biltmore Estates collection was list-priced at $5,280. C-Mart price: $1,745.

The best day to go is Thursday, when new merchandise shows up on the floor.