Filled with enticing attractions and tons of history and culture to discover, Des Moines, Iowa, is one of the Midwest’s most surprising destinations. But as Iowa’s biggest city—beset with cool areas and plenty of accommodation options—it can be a challenge to figure out where to stay in Des Moines, IA.
Des Moines teems with interesting areas and neighborhoods. Most travelers will be well-served by sticking around Downtown and the East Village, home to many of the best hotels in Des Moines and its top attractions. For a quieter visit, more suburban areas like West Des Moines or Altoona offer excellent lodgings at more affordable prices.
Need help figuring out where to start your lodgings search? Find the perfect accommodations with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Des Moines, Iowa!
Best places to stay in Des Moines, IA
Finding a place to stay for your trip to Des Moines, Iowa, can be a challenge, depending on what kind of activities you plan. Of course, staying close to the sights or attractions you would like to experience is best.
If you’re visiting for the first time, choosing a hotel around Downtown Des Moines or the East Village is your best bet. These areas are home to many of the top tourist attractions in Des Moines, including the Farmers Market, Iowa State Capitol, and the Science Center.
Or if budget is more your concern, slide into neighborhoods further outside the city center, like West Des Moines, Clive, and Altoona. Although you’ll be further away from the action, you’ll be well-placed to explore Iowa by embarking on some of the most popular Des Moines day trips.
The best areas to stay in Des Moines, IA, are:
Downtown Des Moines
✓ Recommended area to stay in Des Moines for first-time visitors
Traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, for the first time? Get a good night’s rest in Downtown Des Moines. Located west of the Des Moines River, the city center is a fantastic spot to base yourself to squeeze all the best of Iowa’s capital city into your itinerary.
The riverside neighborhood lets visitors experience plenty of shops, historical attractions, and the city’s hottest restaurants & bars, all within quick walking distance. There’s ample parking Downtown, too, making it easy to visit attractions like amusement parks and green spaces that are a little further afield.
Enjoy a relaxing walk in Rotary Riverwalk Park with a coffee from St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery for the ultimate start to a day of sightseeing. Explore the city’s nightlife by bar hopping along Court Street, home to several unique bars, like the tiki-themed Revival House and the American Outlaws Bar.
Downtown Des Moines is home to many of the city’s top hotels. Expect to pay slightly higher prices for the privilege of staying in the heart of the action.
Looking for a comfortable stay in the heart of the city? Look no further than the Marriott Downtown. This hotel boasts modern and simply elegant decor throughout the rooms and common spaces, making it the perfect place to relax after a night on the town. Top off your evening with lovely amenities like an indoor pool and fitness facility.
Level up your trip with a night at this chic 4-star hotel. With 182 rooms and 30 sleek and modern suites, this hotel offers the perfect way to add a feeling of elegance to your Iowa itinerary. The chic historic hotel was built in 1919 in a Colonial Revival style and has since been renovated to give guests the best experience possible. Order a bottle of champagne or sip cocktails in their onsite bar, Coda Lounge, while enjoying the historic and sophisticated atmosphere of the hotel.
This central Hilton hotel is a great choice if you’re looking for a simple and modern hotel with top-notch amenities. This sleek and modern hotel offers spacious and comfortable rooms as well as an indoor pool and fitness center for a reasonable price, making it a great option for those on a budget.
Spend a night immersed in history at the beautiful historic Hotel Fort Des Moines. A former favorite for famous actors and musicians like Elvis and Johnny Cash, this historic boutique hotel comes with all the top-class amenities you’d expect, from elegant decor to world-class service.
A midcentury modern dream, the Surety Hotel collaborates with local artists and restaurants to bring their guests the best experience possible. All the rooms here are decorated in an elegant mid-century modern style, with comfort and style in mind. Admire art and pottery in each room, brought in from local artists. You can bring your furry friend along, too, as all the rooms are pet friendly.
After enjoying superb views of Downtown from your room, head downstairs to grab a glass of wine from the lobby wine bar before heading out for a night on the town.
✓ Recommended neighborhood to stay in Des Moines for culture and a trendy atmosphere
The historic East Village neighborhood is a great option for staying close to the excitement of downtown, with less congestion and noise. This historic district features some of the city’s top attractions, like the Iowa State Capital and the State Historical Building.
The East Village started as a haven for new immigrants in the late 1800s. Some of the stunning Neoclassical and commercial architecture still remains today. It’s been brought into the modern era with chic apartments, happening bars, restaurants, and music venues.
Like New York’s Greenwich Village, the East Village is the spot where anything “cool and trendy” starts in Des Moines. It’s a great choice alternative to downtown for visitors who want to enjoy the city’s growing youth culture and more local vibes.
Perfect for those who are staying a little longer in Iowa’s capital and want to have a different experience, FRONTDESK Rowat Lofts offers beautiful studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments in the East Village. These beautiful modern apartments come with a full kitchen and bathroom, making this hotel great for group trips or families traveling together.
Right near transit and close to all the action in the East Village, you can’t go wrong with a homely stay at the FRONTDESK Rowat Lofts.
Looking for a chic and upscale hotel in the East Village? The AC Hotel by Marriott has the perfect room for you. All of their classy and upscale rooms are comforting and stylish, perfect for business or leisure travelers. Their unique 6th-floor bar serves artisanal dishes paired with craft cocktails, perfect for a night in or the start of a night out.
In town on business? The Staybridge Suites Downtown has all the amenities a business traveler could need, alongside its clean and comfortable rooms. With everything from office space and supplies to laundry services and relaxation, this hotel will meet all of your unique travel needs.
West Des Moines
✓ Recommended place to stay in Des Moines for shopping and outdoor adventures
Looking for more affordable digs in a quiet neighborhood? Extend your lodgings search to West Des Moines. This quiet suburb offers all the necessities for traveling, like grocery stores, restaurants, and even some attractions of its own.
From upscale West Des Moines, Downtown is easily accessible, just a quick 12-mile drive or bus ride away. The area’s hotels are more affordable than in the city center, making them appealing to families or large groups.
Want to escape the city buzz? Nearby Raccoon River Park is great for family picnics, an afternoon swim, a hike, or a softball game. Or, for some retail therapy, check out Jordan Creek Town Center, a beautiful mall with over 150 stores and its own lake.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites lets you get close to some of the city’s best shopping, with Jordan Creek Town Center just across the street! The hotel rooms are clean and comfortable and offer a pool and indoor whirlpool to relax after your shopping spree.
Have a great night’s rest at the Drury Inn & Suites West Des Moines. The comfortable beds and homely decor at this top-notch hotel will give you a home away from home feeling. Not only does this hotel offer free breakfast, but they also have a free evening snack with a rotating menu to keep things interesting.
Located amidst all the suburban action, this Hyatt Place is a top-notch hotel choice. This hotel is located right near some big-name chain stores as well as popular American restaurants. It’s a great spot for those who want to relax and not have to travel too far to get a delicious dinner. The rooms and common spaces are cozy and modern, suitable for any kind of traveler.
This eco-conscious hotel is a great choice for those looking to minimize their environmental impact while traveling. The Element is Green Globe Certified, contributing a lower carbon and water footprint compared to other hotels. You won’t even notice “going green” while staying in one of their warm and inviting rooms or enjoying its world-class amenities.
Looking for a more upscale hotel in the area? The Rewind by Hilton has everything from sleek bathroom features to elegant and stylish decor to make your visit feel like the sophisticated vacation you hoped for.
✓ Recommended area for travelers looking for a quieter stay outside the city
Clive is a small, off-the-beaten-path Des Moines suburb and is a great choice for travelers who are looking for a quieter area outside the busy downtown and other urban centers. Clive is located next to Highway 235, connecting you to Downtown and all the city’s fun and exciting activities.
While visiting Clive, check out the nearby Urbandale, a beautiful suburb just north of Clive featuring several lovely parks and green spaces. Or step back in time at the Living History Farms, a replica village from 1875 that showcases what life was like on the frontier.
The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson is a homely hotel that creates a cozy and welcoming environment for its guests. Take a relaxing dip in the pool or enjoy a complimentary coffee by the fireplace before heading up to your room after a day of exploring.
Close to some of the area’s top attractions, the Courtyard in Clive is the perfect choice for a clean and relaxing stay. Their rooms and common spaces feature a refreshing and modern decor that welcomes you into the hotel. As the hotel was Awarded AAA Best of Housekeeping for 2022, you can rest assured you’re staying in one of the cleanest hotels in North America!
This classy hotel is an excellent choice for those who want to spend their nights in a sophisticated and modern hotel that’s away from the noise of the city but still close to all the action. Located in Urbandale, the Revel Hotel, Tapestry Collection By Hilton, offers free airport shuttles and an artistic and intriguing lounge for guests to enjoy, along with all the other world-class amenities you’d expect from the Hilton chain of hotels.
✓ Recommended neighborhood for families
Altoona is a quiet suburb northeast of Des Moines, still easily accessible by car from the heart of the city. Although it’s easy to get to many of the city’s main points of interest from here, this area also boasts some fun attractions of its own.
Bring the whole family over to Adventureland Park. With over 100 rides, games, and shows, the fun theme park is a hit for visitors of all ages. Or, for a night on the town, try your luck at Prairie Meadows Casino and Racetrack.
As Altoona is further from the city center, hotels are more reasonably priced than in other areas, making it a great choice for where to stay in Des Moines for families on a tighter travel budget.
With its location close to the Outlets of Des Moines, the Hyatt Place Altoona offers perfect lodgings for guests who love to shop till they drop. The rooms here are comfortable, adding in small extras like coffee makers and a sitting area with a flat-screen TV for your comfort. Other amenities here include an indoor pool and a buffet breakfast.
If you want to spice up your itinerary with a little gaming excitement, spend a night at the Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack and Hotel. Besides the 85,000-square-foot casino and race track, the hotel offers comfortable and beautifully decorated rooms. Guests will also enjoy an array of amenities here, from on-site dining to live entertainment.
Offering comfortable rooms at a reasonable price tag, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Altoona is a fantastic option for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. Aside from the spacious accommodations, guests will enjoy a barrage of amenities like an indoor pool, shared lounge, hot tub, and free bike rentals.