Washington D.C: The bargain holiday you didn’t expect

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ICONIC: The Washington Monument

Well, now you can jet off to Washington DC on a budgetfriendly plane blessed with beer by a pagan chief. Icelandic budget airline WOW has launched a new route to the US capital from London s Gatwick Airport for just 129 one-way. Sampling the new service, I found the cabin crew to be very efficient at serving the potent local vodka and foodie treats available on board.

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WOW: Cheap flights via Wow airline to the USA

I had to keep pinching myself how far I d travelled for so little money

This light-hearted attitude saw Icelandic Pagan Chief Hilmar Orn called in to anoint the airline s newest jet with a silver horn filled with beer! WOW are able to offer such cheap flights by using smaller Airbus A321 aircraft than those normally seen on transatlantic flights. Their US routes fly from Gatwick via Keflavik Airport near Reykjavik, giving travellers a quick glimpse of the amazing Icelandic landscape.

Then, from Iceland, it s on to Baltimore Washington International Airport, recently voted one of the top ten most userfriendly in the world. The airport connects directly to DC via train, and once in town I had to keep pinching myself how far I d travelled for so little money. Washington is stuffed full of world-famous tourist attractions, with many of the most popular a stone s throw from one another. We took the obligatory selfie outside the White House and had a look at the huge Washington Monument just behind it.

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IMPRESSIVE: The Capitol building well-worth the guided tour

Also on our itinerary was the famous U.S. Capitol building the American equivalent of our own Houses of Parliament. It is well-worth paying for one of the guided tours through the Capitol s impressive visitors centre and iconic white dome. Our expert Tom made a few of my patriotic travel buddies blush by reminding us how the original building had been torched by Brit soldiers in 1814. It felt pretty special standing on the steps outside too, where presidents including Barack Obama have been sworn in to office.

If you ve got longer to spend in DC, check out some of the nearby museums and monuments. The Smithsonian is the most famous in America. It is packed with fascinating exhibits and, unusually for the US, is free. It sits close to the Newseum, which focuses on journalism, the National Gallery of Art and Holocaust Memorial Museum. If all that appreciation of the past makes you peckish, Ben s Chilli Bowl restaurant in the historic U Street district is a must.

The hot dog joint, with Obama among its fans, sits on a strip of shops and theatres once dubbed America s Black Broadway . It was moving to hear how African American locals could enjoy a night out there during the segregation years without fear of racist abuse or discrimination.

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WHITE A BARGAIN: 129 flights to Washington D.C.

U Street is now a wealthy neighbourhood and rivals the upmarket Georgetown area for places to eat and drink. But Georgetown is still the place to go for shopping. It has dozens of chains and independent shops lining its quaint Federal-style buildings. Our hotel, the Irish-themed Phoenix Park by Union Station, built in a Georgian Revivialstyle in 1922, complete with its own Irish pub and restaurant, The Dubliner, was a great place to chill out away from the big city buzz.

Another very relaxing option is the coast town of Annapolis, about an hour outside DC. Annapolis is home to the US Navy and offers tours of its impressive Naval Academy, which turns out over 1,000 new sailors each year. Annapolis is also a pretty seaside town, with plenty of places to eat, drink or just gaze at the peaceful harbour waters. Film buffs may recognise some streets from the spy film Patriot Games, where Harrison Ford s CIA agent is pursued by a murderous IRA gang.

Telly fans may also want to track down locations visited by evil US President Frank Underwood in Netflix drama House of Cards. But while the show is set in Washington s corridors of power, most scenes are actually shot in nearby Baltimore. DC and its surroundings offer everything a traveller could want iconic monuments, vast museums, glamorous shopping and the excitement of knowing you re visiting the world s most powerful city.

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