Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Old Town Alexandria
Kimpton's hotel Monaco is the most expensive hotel in Alexandria, but it has the best location and the nicest accommodations. It is located in the heart of Old Town closer to the water than any other major King Street lodging option. Prices are often as high as $200 in the off season, only going up from there. They have 241 rooms with free internet, huge flat screen TVs, and amazing rooms, some with two levels, and others as big as 1600 square feet! This impressive hotel has a pool, spa, fitness center, a nice restaurant and much more. The historic hotel was founded in 1749 and was formerly a Holiday Inn before reopening as the Monaco in 2008. The hotel offers free breakfast and free coffee in the lobby, but doesn't have coffee makers in the rooms... but, for some reason, my room had two phones.
When I checked in there was a gold fish named Lucy on the front desk. I asked the employee how many Lucys they had gone through, thinking they would only live a day or two, but he informed me the maids keep a big tank full of fish, so they can rotate them out of the non-aerated bowls and they live longer. The second day of my stay, there was a goldfish in a bowl, just sitting in the hallway. Supposedly they will even "loan" you a fish to brighten up your room during your stay. It would be more fun to borrow a puppy.
They also feature a very good restaurant called Jackson 20 that is supposedly named after the president and his dollar bill. They also have conference facilities and an outdoor courtyard.
The fortunes of James W. Jackson, a southerner from Alexandria, and Elmer E. Ellsworth, a Union Army Colonel clashed in Alexandria on 24 May 1861. On this day, the Union Army invaded northern Virginia, shortly after the state voted to secede from the Union. Northern troops from New York, including Col Ellsworth entered Alexandria, and quickly occupied the town. In the center of town at the Marshall House (where the Hotel Monaco stands today) a brave James Jackson was flying the Confederate flag. Ellsworth entered the Marshall House and removed the flag, only to be confronted and shot by Jackson, the inn's owner. Ellsworth died at the scene and Jackson was executed a short time later. Col Ellsworth was the first Union officer killed in the war, and his name became a rallying cry for the northern military. Jackson too became a martyr for the southern cause, as he represented a man trying to defend his home from Northern invaders.
A plaque at the Monaco hotel is dedicated to Jackson, and it celebrates his defense of the South. It reads: "The Marshall House stood upon this site, and within the building on the early morning of May 24, 1861 James W. Jackson was killed by Federal Soldiers while defending his property and personal rights, as stated in the verdict of coroners jury. He was the first Martyr to the cause of Southern Independence. The Justice of History does not allow his name to be forgotten. Not in the excitement of battle, but coolly, and for a great principle, he laid down his life, an example to all, in defence [sic] of his home and the sacred soil of his native state Virgina."