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Around the World: Going Presidential

Jennifer Merin on

There are two days during any calendar year when it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to
stay in any hotel’s designated presidential suite. One of those days is Election Day.
And, the other is Presidents’ Day.

On both holidays, you can be sure that presidential suites across the nation will have been booked up long in advance -- either by candidates who‘re hoping their political campaigns will successfully boost them into public office on Election Day, or by travelers who are eager to experience the exclusive realm of presidential accommodations on the day when America officially celebrates its past and present heads of state.

But, any other day of the year, you have a good chance of booking yourself into the very suite of rooms where the likes of Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, the Bushes or our leaders of yore -- dating back to George Washington, even -- have rested and restored themselves during their arduous political campaigns or while they were traveling around the country on official business.

Presidential suites are a cut above other accommodations, and that’s for sure. They are larger and airier, have beautiful furnishings, are equipped with all the latest and highest tech gadgets and outfitted with extra amenities ranging from Jacuzzis to grand pianos.

Presidential suites represent a life style you could easily get used to. But don‘t get too settled into a presidential suite unless you can afford to dole out $5,000 or quadruple that amount per night for the high profile creature comforts.

However, if you’re ready to splurge to celebrate a very special anniversary or achievement, a presidential suite will certainly suit your needs. And, here are some of the best:

At Washington DC’s Mandarin Oriental, you’ll be able to spread out in 3,500 square feet of prime hotel real estate, divided into spacious and luxuriously appointed rooms with ceilings that are 25 feet high. The baby grand piano is programmed to play automatically, and there are numerous flat-screen TVs so you can surround yourself with news or sports or romantic comedies. Or just enjoy the magnificent panoramic views of the city. And, the beds are mighty comfy, too.

Also in Washington DC, the Hay-Adams Hotel, an exclusive boutique hotel, distinguishes itself with spectacular views of the White House, especially from the penthouse presidential suite’s master bedroom. The living room has a gas-lit fireplace and formal dining table. If you’re not sleeping IN the White House, this is considered to be about the next best thing.

Up north, In New York City, the famous Hotel Waldorf-Astoria’s 35th-floor presidential suite has been sheltering American presidents and other heads of state for eight decades. The hotel itself is an art deco landmark, and the threer-bedroom/3.5 marble bathroom presidential suite, encompassing 2,245 beautifully appointed square feet, is one of its most famous features. The hotel is notoriously discreet about who’s been staying there, but some items in the presidential suite’s famous collection of furniture present clues to the identities of former guests. That collection, for example, includes one of JFK’s rocking chairs and a writing desk that belonged to General Douglas MacArthur. Décor that resembles that of the White House makes the environment even more presidential.

Down south, In St. Petersburg, Florida, you’ll find that the historic powder pink Renaissance Vinoy Hotel, now a Marriott property, boasts two presidential suites, and both are lovely. They are furnished in sleek contemporary style, with an eye to providing every possible comfort. The larger of the two is located on the seventh floor of the hotel’s guestroom tower. It features a boat-sized Jacuzzi and a huge flat-screen TV. And, best of all, it has six expansive balconies with beautiful views of the famed Vinoy gardens and scenic bay. The second is in the main building. If they’re not occupied, you may be able to visit both suites while taking the Vinoy‘s entertaining property tour -- but the better option would be to occupy one of them yourself.

Clear across the country, in Southern California, that glamorous Tinseltown hideaway known as the Beverly Hills Hotel also has two presidential suites. Coincidentally, the Beverly Hills Hotel is also painted the same power pink color as St. Petersburg‘s Renaissance Vinoy. Are the two classy hotels our nation‘s presidential suite bookends? Not really. But, they are equally exclusive and well appointed.

The Beverly Hills Hotel built these suites several years ago to replace its former presidential accommodations – Bungalow 5 (originally built for Walter Annenberg, who frequented presidential circles) and another suite located in the hotel’s main building. The new presidential suites are considered modern upgrades. They occupy private bungalows (numbers 24 and 25) that stand next to each other. Similar in size and décor, each has about 1,900 square feet of interior space divided into sleeping quarters, living and dining room, full kitchen, and work room, with all the high tech gadgets you might want or need. And each has an extensive private patio with a swimming pool and exercise deck. The bungalows are too new to have accommodated many presidents, and the hotel is too discreet to disclose who they might be, but you can be sure that the bungalows’ presidential future is bright. Meanwhile, splurging on a stay will undoubtedly give you some sort of a presidential rush.

If you‘re looking to stop over in a presidential suite in the middle of the country, head for Denver‘s historic Brown Palace Hotel. Numerous US presidents have stayed at the Brown Palace, which now has three presidential suites. Reflecting the owner’s preferences, one supposes, each presidential suite is named for a Republican president and, reflecting the presidents’ preferences, one supposes, each decorated to reflect that president‘s character and lifestyle. The Roosevelt suite -- named for Teddy, who was the first US president to visit the Brown Palace, way back in 1905 -- is furnished with rich woods and a lot of hunting artifacts that are in keeping with the Rough Rider’s adventurous outdoors spirit. The Eisenhower suite’s fireplace mantle has a dent that was made by Ike when he was practicing his golf swing in 1955. The Reagan suite is breezy and Santa Barbara in style. Yes, all three presidents were guests at the Brown Palace Hotel.

This year, President’s Day falls on February 16. You can try booking a presidential suite for that holiday weekend, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find any of them available. The trick would be to book now for next year. Or just go presidential off-season!

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Copyright 2019 Jennifer Merin


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