The robocalls and attack ads have ended. That’s cause for celebration enough for many of us. But January will bring to Washington a party like no other when President Barack Obama is sworn in on the 21st for his second term at the helm of the free world.
For D.C.-area hotels, the inauguration means big business. More than 1 million people attended Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and area hotel rooms brought in more than $100 million in revenue, according to Destination DC, a private nonprofit corporation with a membership of 850 businesses and organizations that support the Washington travel and tourism sector.
Since then, hotels have invested $250 million in refurbishing and renovating — and are ready to welcome guests for the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Most lodgings require a four-night minimum stay and carry hefty price tags, but all promise an experience fit for royalty (or at least a head of state), with lavish meals, personal fashion consultants, unique keepsakes and undivided attention.
Here are a few of the more sumptuous options.
Park Hyatt Washington
1201 24th St., NW
Celebrate the American tradition with the “American Style” package, which at $57,000 buys you a four-night stay — Jan. 18 to 22 — in the hotel’s 1,632-square-foot Presidential Suite complete with personal butler service. Besides a bedroom and living room with sitting area, the suite has a baby grand piano and a travertine-carved-stone tub with a dedicated bath butler.
Daily turndown amenities include the Blue Duck Tavern’s award-winning apple pie and hardcover books highlighting American crafts, heritage and art. To keep up with the Obamas, the package also offers a meeting with a stylist from Saks Fifth Avenue at Tysons Galleria, who will provide options for gala-worthy attire. Other package perks include a dinner for up to 12 at the chef’s table in Blue Duck Tavern and a five-course menu featuring the president-elect’s favorite foods, as well as a backstage tour of the John F. Kennedy Center followed by a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra, viewed from box seats.
Upon arrival, a signed, magnum bottle of the hotel’s signature wine awaits guests in their suite. And as a souvenir, the hotel will send guests a handmade timber rocking chair engraved with their initials and an inaugural seal. Lastly, the hotel will contribute at least $500 to the United Service Organizations (USO), which provides morale, welfare and recreational activities to U.S. troops and their families worldwide.
Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
1150 22nd St., NW
The $100,000 “Access Washington” package at the Ritz is as thorough as the Secret Service. It includes two first-class roundtrip domestic airline tickets; four nights in a luxury suite; an afternoon of behind-the-scenes private tours of Washington led by Ismail Naskai, named best tour guide by the Washington Area Concierge Association; access to the Capitol, National Archives, Library of Congress, Treasury and Arlington Cemetery; and a viewing of the inaugural parade from a party at the Newseum.
There’s also a three-course dinner on Jan. 18 prepared by executive chef Yves Samake and students from DC Central Kitchen, with the value of the dinner donated to the nonprofit, which not only feeds low-income city residents but also offers job training and school partnerships. And for some presidential pampering, there’s an afternoon of styling at the Fifth Avenue Club with a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director who will outfit you in a designer dress and tuxedo; a Saks fashion concierge to consult at any time; and a unique diamond and ruby pin by jeweler Ann Hand. But the real icing on the cake? A private cupcake-decorating party in Georgetown Cupcake’s lab for up to 10 people. The flavor you create will be the shop’s “secret” flavor of the day during the inauguration.
3100 South St., NW
The Ritz’s Georgetown property is offering its own inauguration package from Jan. 17 to 22. For $201,300, a group can reserve a block of guest rooms, one-bedroom and luxury suites in the West Wing of the Five Diamond boutique hotel, along with 24-hour butler service and direct access to the wing that lets you bypass the lobby. Among the other goodies: a custom-designed necklace by Dina Mackney and a $20,000 shopping spree at Bloomingdale’s. You can also host your very own inaugural ball at the hotel’s Fahrenheit Ballroom for up to 75 guests, including cocktail reception, five-course dinner with wine pairings, live entertainment and a photographer to capture the presidential moments.
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Situated on the inaugural parade route and between the White House and the Capitol, this stately hotel has been at the epicenter of presidential inaugurations for more than 150 years, as evidenced by photographs in the Willard’s history gallery. Among the notable guests were the Lincolns, who held his inaugural luncheon at the Willard and stayed there before Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office. In fact, Lincoln’s first presidential paycheck went to paying his bill at the Willard — for $773.75.
During this inauguration, rooms are selling for a four-night minimum at a starting rate of $1,149 for a deluxe room. Suites such as the Oval Suites — based on the White House Oval Office décor — cost $5,700 per night plus a $27,000 catering minimum. To welcome Obama back to office, the beaux-arts hotel will be festooned with patriotic bunting and hundreds of outdoor flags. The concierge can assist ball-goers by procuring a Lear Jet or helping with wardrobe needs. Each of the four nights, guests will receive a different amenity. For Obama’s 2009 inauguration, these included silver American flag pins from Tiffany & Co., white chocolate White Houses, and handcrafted, numbered Retro DC picture frames from Keith Lipert Gallery. This year’s theme will be “Sustainably Made in America.”
Four Seasons Hotel Washington
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
The president isn’t the only one with bulletproof protection in Washington. The 4,000-square-foot Royal Suite at the Four Seasons has bullet-resistant glass windows, its own private entrance and exit, and a closed-circuit security system. It also boasts a 1,000-square-foot outdoor terrace for watching inauguration goings-on.
The cost is $20,000 per night if the suite is configured into a one-bedroom space. For those traveling with an entourage, however, it can be converted to accommodate two and three bedrooms ($23,090 per night), or eight and 11 bedrooms ($40,050 per night). In addition to special gifts each night of their stay, guests can enjoy lunch or dinner at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. The hotel will also host a presidential Sunday brunch ($80 per person) on Jan. 20 with dishes inspired by Obama’s hometown and favorite foods, such as a Chicago hot dog cart serving Vienna Beef hot dogs with kosher pickles, neon relish and sport peppers.
So the ladies don’t feel left out, starting Jan. 1, the hotel is also offering a “First Lady” package inspired by Michelle Obama and priced at $525. A chauffeur-driven car will take guests from any D.C. location to the Four Seasons, where they’ll receive a customized iPod for a one-hour workout with Mrs. Obama’s favorite play list, including music by Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson. Next up: an 80-minute full-body massage with Amala’s organic rose oil, in honor of the first lady’s favorite flower, a 50-minute facial, and a wash and blow dry at George’s Salon.
1330 Maryland Ave., SW
Available from Jan. 17 to 22 for $15,000 per night, the Mandarin’s P.O.T.U.S. Package features four nights in the 3,500-square-foot Presidential Suite, round-the-clock butler service, use of the house car and a keepsake. The acronym stands for “Presiding Over the Ultimate Suite” because the Presidential has three bedrooms, a gym, study and dining room. If you don’t need a hotel stay but would like a warm meal, you can host a private dinner for up to 80 people at CityZen, Washington’s only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant, inside the hotel.
Kimpton – Morrison House
116 Alfred St., Alexandria, Va.
Named one of the “Top 50 Hotels in the World” by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, the Morrison House, a Kimpton hotel, is offering a $200,000 buyout package that covers accommodations for up to 90 guests in the hotel’s 45 rooms for four nights. Other perks include 24-hour butler service; a house car; keepsake pillowcases and silk pajamas monogrammed with your initials and the inauguration date; all meals from the Grille at Morrison House; and an evening performance by former White House pianist Robert Smith, who played for every president from Nixon through Clinton.
Kimpton – Hotel Madera
1310 New Hampshire Ave., NW
If only getting part of the Morrison House is not enough, then get the whole thing at Hotel Madera, also a Kimpton property. For $320,000, you can rent all 82 rooms in the boutique lodging. The hotel will also provide a keepsake animal print robe embroidered with the inauguration date; etched Riedel wine glasses with a Democratic donkey; an inauguration “survival kit” that includes bottled water, hand warmers and ponchos; and a four-course dinner with wine pairings at Firefly Restaurant.
515 15th St., NW
Just a block away from the White House, the W offers pristine views of the inauguration route. Room prices start at $1,000 a night with a four-night minimum stay. If simply staying in one of the hotel’s 317 rooms isn’t enough, you can rent out the rooftop terrace, P.O.V., for the inauguration for $200,000. J&G Steakhouse inside the hotel and situated on the parade route is available for $100,000.
800 16th St., NW
Situated across from the White House, the Hay-Adams is about as close as you can get to actually celebrating in the Oval Office. In fact, before moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009, the Obamas stayed at the Hay-Adams. Rooms start at $1,050 per night with a four-night minimum. The largest suite, the 1,400-square-foot Federal Suite, which can also be reserved as an 1,800-square-foot space, starts at $7,900 during the inauguration. Gifts for guests in all rooms will be produced by Mottahedeh fine china, and Neiman Marcus will set up a boutique at the hotel for guests’ shopping needs.
Mayflower Renaissance Washington, DC
1127 Connecticut Ave., NW
Opened in 1925 four blocks from the White House, the historic Mayflower has a storied past when it comes to the inauguration. It has hosted a ball for every inaugural since Calvin Coolidge. Franklin D. Roosevelt holed up there to work on his 1933 inaugural address — which included the famous “only thing we have to fear is fear itself” line — and Harry S. Truman stayed there for the first 90 days of his term. Details of the hotel’s extravagant 2013 inauguration plans were unavailable as of press time, but for those looking for a basic package, a room at the Mayflower can be snagged for $849 per night for a minimum of four nights. It includes binoculars to watch inauguration events.
201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.
Although the hotel itself is not offering inauguration-related specials, it will host one of the best-known inaugural balls: the Texas State Society’s Black Tie & Boots Ball. The open-bar party will feature all-you-can-eat food buffets with Texas favorites such as barbecue, enchiladas, and chips and queso. Entertainment includes various genres of music. Last year, 20 artists performed on six stages, and past performers have included Clint Black and Sara Evans. Tickets to the 12,000-person event cost $250 for society members and $300 for nonmembers. A spokeswoman for the event said the ball was held at the Gaylord in 2009 and will be again this year because it’s the only place in the Washington area big enough to hold the party.
44050 Woodridge Parkway, Leesburg, Va.
Although not tied specifically to the inauguration, the resort’s $17,000 “Presidential Treatment” package is geared toward making guests feel like a head of state. The package includes a three-hour ride aboard the U.S.S. Sequoia, a 104-foot yacht used by several U.S. presidents and world leaders since 1925; an overnight stay in the Presidential Suite; a private four-course dinner for two; a three-hour limousine tour of the Washington monuments; and a 75-minute couples massage at Spa Minérale. Stay a second night at the 500-acre resort, located about 40 minutes from downtown D.C., and the cost is $19,000.
No matter which hotel you make your home base for the 2013 inauguration, you’ll want to look your best for the historic event. For busy professionals, especially out-of-towners not familiar with the area’s salons, a new service called Sprezza provides mobile beauty services for local hotel guests. Licensed pros will come to your room for hair styling and up-dos, makeup application, and manicures and pedicures. Services are available seven days a week in hotels throughout Northern Virginia and by request in-homes.
About the Author
Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.