Low-cost flying has just got better as Icelandic airline WOW Air's transatlantic flights are taking Brits across the pond for as little as £99 each way. After launching budget flights from London Gatwick to Boston in March, WOW Air's new Washington DC route has brought America's vibrant capital city closer to British travellers and specifically those on a budget.
What to expect
Compared with the established airlines offering flights from the UK to the States, WOW Air provides a no-frills option for you to save more money on the travelling part of your trip so can spend more once you get there. With no in-flight entertainment you will want to bring a book or tablet to keep you entertained, but being without on-demand movies at your fingertips is not as challenging as you might imagine. For starters, flying WOW Air affords incredible views that you would probably miss if you were watching the latest flick - and how many flights take you over Greenland?
It also gives you an opportunity to de-tech. With no WiFi on board you really can switch off and enjoy the ride. Your ticket doesn't include in-flight food but there are snacks (mini burgers, flatbreads, Icelandic yoghurt) available for purchase. If legroom is important to you, passengers can pre-book a seat with extra space. Everyone gets 5kg free hand luggage but it is worth paying £28 for checked luggage (20kg) as the shopping malls in America are hard to resist! The flight from London Gatwick takes two hours and 30 minutes to Reykjavik and five hours and 45 minutes from Reykjavik to Baltimore–Washington International Airport.
What to see in Washington DC
Whether you're visiting for a couple of days or longer, a visit to Pennsylvania Avenue for a glimpse of the White House is a must. The more-than-100-year-old home is the centre of political life in Washington DC and the most famous residence in America. The US Capitol is one of the most impressive monuments in the city, where senators and representatives meet to shape US policy. Go on a free guided tour at the US Capitol Visitor Center, where you won't want to miss the beautiful Rotunda, the 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection and the impressive interior of the landmark's dome. On a sunny day, head for Georgetown Waterfront to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy an al-fresco lunch (try top notch Italian restaurant Fiola Mare, a favourite of the Obamas), and mingle with the locals at an outdoor bar at this picturesque part of town.
Where to stay
Check in to Phoenix Park Hotel, located just one block from architectural marvel Union Station. The hotel dates back to 1922 and boasts traditional decor, original oil paintings and an opulent marble staircase. The elegant bolthole provides an Irish country-style setting and was named after the famous 1,760-acre park in Dublin. While at the hotel, relax with a beer and authentic Irish cuisine at The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub, a hangout for locals and visitors alike. Full superior rooms at Phoenix Park Hotel cost from $298 (approx. £194 per night).
Where to eat
Take a trip to historic U Street to sample the famous chilli con carne at long-time eatery Ben's Chili Bowl. The Obamas and Bono are fans of the wonderful food and atmosphere of the restaurant, which serves up dishes that include Bill Cosby's Original Chili Half-Smoke, Ben's Famous All Meat Chili Dog and bowls of chilli con carne for as little as $4.40. For sophisticated dining in Washington DC, dress up and head for The Hay-Adams, a downtown hotel near the White House. The Lafayette overlooks Lafayette Square and offers upscale American cuisine in a stately setting, with delectable dishes such as American Red Snapper and Colorado Rack of Lamb.
Where to go out
Looking for a stylish night out in Washington DC? Look no further than the W Washington DC's trendy P.O.V. Roof Terrace and Lounge, located on the 11th floor of the sleek hotel. The view of several of DC's most beautiful monuments, including the Washington Monument, is one of the best you will find in the city. Inside the Lounge, there is live music and DJs, plush sofas and a well-heeled crowd sipping high-end cocktails.
Get out of the city
Pretty Annapolis is known as America's sailing capital and one of the most beautiful waterfront destinations in the country. The charming port city is home to 18th century brick buildings and many sail and power boats strutting their stuff along the City Dock. Arrive in the late morning for brunch at relaxed eatery The Blackwall Hitch, which boasts a stylish interior and a glittering oyster bar. Afterwards, take a tour of the US Naval Academy, the training ground for officers of the US Navy and Marine Corps. It features an impressive chapel and displays various models of ships used throughout the centuries. Spend the rest of the afternoon boat watching as you walk along City Dock and enjoy a stroll through town as snap the stunning architecture.
WOW Air flies daily from London Gatwick to Washington DC via Reykjavik from just £99 each way.