Home The Washington Diplomat October 2008 Presidential Pampering

Presidential Pampering


Election Results Are In: VIPs in D.C. Room in Style

When it comes to hotels, not all luxury is created equal.

The presidential suite is almost always the best room in the house. It’s the epitome of luxury and typically involves several thousand square feet of space, the best views of Washington, customized pampering such as a personal chef or butler, the latest in security arrangements and other discerning amenities. The suite also comes with a hefty price tag — anywhere from ,000 to ,500 a night. (The latter is the cost of the Four Seasons Royal Suite, debuting in January at the Four Seasons in Washington.) In a city driven by politics, you can bet Washington has no shortage of presidential suites, all of which vie for the business of VIPs, foreign dignitaries and their delegations, and of course presidents and heads of state — enticing them with the most palatial, cushiest, convenient and safest hotel experience money can buy.

But who’s tops among the top? As the city prepares to welcome the country’s new president next month, The Washington Diplomat offers an informal survey electing its own “presidents” so to speak among area hotels, all of which offer a winning ticket when it comes to rooming in style.

Willard InterContinental Washington Hotel The Willard InterContinental Washington is home to three presidential suites, which allows the hotel to simultaneously host several large delegations, typically spanning multiple floors of the property with perhaps more than one head of state at a time. The suites — the Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — each cover around 2,000 square feet of space. They cost anywhere from roughly ,300 to ,500 — rates that are likely to double for the upcoming U.S. Presidential Inauguration, to which the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel has front-row seats.

Fabien Odry, diplomatic sales manager for the Willard, said the Jefferson and Washington in particular — both of which directly face Pennsylvania Avenue — are highlights among the hotel’s 40 suites.

The Jefferson features a grand harlequin marble entryway, an oval-shape dining room that seats 10 with an adjacent prep kitchen, two powder rooms and a dual-parlor living room. The suite sits on the sixth floor and also boasts custom-designed Aubusson carpeting and hardwood floors, original artwork and stately furnishings accented by a dramatic red and gold-themed décor very reminiscent of Old European royalty. For the sleeping arrangements, the Jefferson can be expanded from a large one-bedroom to a three-bedroom suite, taking up the entire corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“The Jefferson is very Washingtonian,” Odry said. “It’s more conservative than the Washington Suite, and there’s a 98 percent chance of heads of state staying there.”

The Willard’s Washington Suite, meanwhile, offers the best view of the Washington Monument and National Mall from its 10th-floor perch. The latest addition to the hotel, the nearly 3,000-square-foot suite with floor-to-ceiling windows has a more open, modern, residential feel to it. The dining and sitting areas can also be closed off from one another and still be accessed separately from the outside corridor to allow for more privacy.

The “baby” of the Willard suites stands at nearly 1,500 square feet. The Lincoln is a smaller version of the Jefferson Suite and actually faces it on the sixth floor. It also features a spacious dining area for eight, punctuated by a soft blend of nautical blues and crèmes. Odry noted that the Lincoln is typically reserved for the number two of a delegation or a presidential advisor.

Mandarin Oriental The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Washington DC features a more classic, contemporary look, interspersed with Asian influences in its furniture and décor.

The three-bedroom, 3,512-square-foot suite offers unprecedented panoramic views of the city, from the memorials to the Kennedy Center to Arlington Cemetery. During cherry blossom season, the sweeping vistas are especially spectacular, said Renee Sharrow, onsite public relations manager for the Mandarin.

The Mandarin Oriental Presidential Suite features a foyer with Chinese “mystique” marble, a grand parlor with 25-foot-high ceilings, a dining room and kitchen, and a study and media room with leather walls, wood inlays, game table and the largest plasma screen of the suite’s 10 televisions. Other unique touches include a grand piano, chess table, telescope and exercise area complete with a treadmill in case you run out of things to do.

The suite also features two bedrooms with an optional third, as well as a powder room, two small balconies and three bathrooms — one of which holds an infinity-edge soaking tub that fills from a ceiling-height nozzle, as well as a separate shower area with body jets.

“It’s a very grand, ultra-luxurious and over-the-top experience. We host high-profile business people, entertainers, officials and foreign dignitaries,” Sharrow said of the ,000-a-night suite. “We’ve had people also use the suite to have parties. Money is no option.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. At the Ritz, “presidential” doesn’t always mean best. The premier room at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., on 22nd Street is the simply named Ritz-Carlton Suite. Designed by Frank Nicholson, the 2,250-square-foot suite is bathed in a soothing palette of taupes, beiges and other neutral colors.

Priced at ,800 a night, the Ritz-Carlton Suite features a king bedroom, master bathroom with double vanity, separate Jacuzzi tub and shower, a private terrace, a dining room that seats 10, and a living room with a fireplace.

The second-best suite here is actually the Presidential Suite, encompassing more than 1,300 square feet on the hotel’s eighth floor. This suite costs ,500 a night and includes a library, dining room with seating for six, a king bedroom and living room.

The Ritz also has a smaller presidential suite not located on the hotel’s Club Level, which also spans 1,350 square feet and is priced slightly lower at ,500 a night.

Elizabeth Mullins, the new area vice president for Ritz-Carlton, said that what sets the Ritz apart from other hotels is its specialized, exacting level of service. In fact, the company performs research on its guests, so if for example an avid wine collector stays in one of the Ritz-Carlton’s top suites, the hotel is likely to customize a tasting of their favorite wine or vintage for each night of the stay. Or, a bath connoisseur might look forward to a specially prepared bath every evening. That’s on top of the monogrammed pillowcases with guest initials and personalized stationary with the guest’s crest or country flag.

“It’s really about accommodating every guest request,” said Mullins, who oversees all four area Ritz-Carlton hotels, including the properties in Pentagon City and Tysons Corner in Virginia. “If a guest brings their own furniture, we’ll clear out the suite and make it ready for their furniture.”

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown The other Ritz property in Washington is the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, a boutique 86-room hotel close to the waterfront. The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown features an edgier flair than its 22nd Street counterpart, with red brick and rich cherry wood accents to complement the property’s claim to fame, so to speak, of being built inside the old Georgetown incinerator.

The Royal Potomac Suite starts at ,500 a night and spans 2,980 square feet. Incorporating elegant dark woods, the suite has one bedroom with an optional second, one-and-a-half limestone and slate baths with standing showers and soaking tubs, a formal living room with fireplace, a pantry and dining room that seats 14.

The Ritz-Carlton Suite at the Georgetown property also runs ,500 per night and covers 2,465 square feet. Notable is the nearly 800-square-foot terrace that overlooks the Potomac River and surrounding Georgetown neighborhood. The suite comes with one bedroom, one-and-a-half baths, living room with gas fireplace, and formal dining room that can accommodate six.

The smaller Presidential Suite, at just over 2,000 square feet and priced at ,000 a night, features items similar to the Ritz-Carlton Suite, but with a less sizeable terrace, though it offers nice views of Grace Church and Georgetown.

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown is already preparing for the inauguration of the 44th U.S. president with a presidential-themed package that adds an ecological twist — for a price.

The “Red, White, Blue and Green” deal is geared for the traveler looking to usher in the new president in style, while contributing to the environment along the way. The eco-minded package actually begins at home, where guests receive a new sustainable luggage set from Gucci to pack their belongings, along with first-class roundtrip airline transfers to Washington.

Then, you’ll be welcomed at the airport by a personal driver, who will chauffeur you via a state-of-the-art hybrid SUV to an eco-friendly home away from home for four days at the Georgetown Ritz property. The package also includes seating for two at the Inaugural Parade and two tickets to the one of the official inaugural balls. In addition, guests enjoy a private dinner in the striking Chimney Stack dining room featuring — what else — an all-organic menu and organic wine pairing.

When the Presidential Inauguration is over, the ride doesn’t stop there. Guests will then travel first-class from dreary, cold D.C. to the Cayman Islands, where they will experience a four-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, including admission to eco-adventure activities offered by the “Ambassadors of the Environment” program in partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Cost for this jet-setting slice of presidential luxury: a mere ,000.

Hotel Palomar Arlington Chic and modern, the Kimpton line of boutique hotels recently opened the Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview in Virginia. Spanning just 1,100 square feet, Palomar’s presidential suite is a smaller, though no less sophisticated, sanctuary filled with vivid splashes of amber and teal, bold artwork, sleek lines and interesting geometric patterns created by Beverly Hills designer Cheryl Rowley.

Rates start at class=”import-text”>2008October.Presidential Pampering.txt,500 to ,000 a night. During the Presidential Inauguration, the suite will be priced at ,000 a night and will require a four-night minimum stay.

The suite offers a spacious living room, a dining area that can accommodate six, small kitchenette with wet bar, king-size bed with Frette linens, oversize walk-in closet, a half bath off the living room, and a full bathroom with Fuji soaking tub.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and an in-room telescope allow guests to gaze at the breathtaking skyline from its 12th-floor location, which boasts vistas of Georgetown, the Kennedy Center, Potomac River and the Washington Monument.

“At Kimpton, we strive to deliver an exceptional level of personalized care to all of our guests. This means providing a very customized — rather than standardized — attention to each guest’s preferences,” said Sarah Crocker, regional director of public relations. “We go to great lengths to make sure that we’re responding to the expectations and needs of each individual guest, and our success in that area is what makes us such a well-loved hotel company.”

Hotel Palomar Washington DC The Hotel Palomar in downtown Washington features two vibrant and unconventional presidential suites that are, frankly, a breath of fresh air. Each covering 1,130 square feet, the two suites are punctuated by bright dashes of magenta and blue, along with subtler tones, while the décor is a fusion of 1930s French moderne-inspired design mixed with an understated yet swanky ambience.

The rooms, peppered with taupe and golden hues, include offbeat additions such as a mulberry chaise lounge, fuchsia bed pillows, and a beige upholstered faux leather headboard on the bed that stretches from floor to ceiling.

Notably, the suite — which features a living room, private workspace and dining area that seats four — can be connected with up to five additional guestrooms to create a five-bedroom suite. Rates are the same as the Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview.

Crocker said the purpose of a presidential suite is to be both a “home away from home” for some, while for others it’s a luxurious alternative to home.

“For our more high-end clientele, a presidential suite would provide them with the level of service, comfort and high-style accommodations that they are accustomed to enjoying at home. So, in that case, we’re maintaining their lifestyle for them while they are on the road,” she told The Washington Diplomat. “However, for the majority of our guests, the presidential suite offers an opportunity to be truly pampered and indulged. It’s an escape to the extraordinary where they can experience true luxury.”

Four Seasons Hotel The Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC in the heart of Georgetown has five presidential suites — appropriately located in the “East Wing” and “West Wing” — ranging in size from 1,300 square feet to 3,535 square feet, with rates that go from ,500 to ,500 a night.

By December though, the hotel’s sixth — and most lavish — suite will be ready for VIP occupation. This Royal Suite also comes with the highest price tag: ,500 per day, and during the Presidential Inauguration, the cost jumps to ,000 a day with a five-night minimum.

Besides the price, several factors really set this new suite apart from others around Washington. Covering 3,000 square feet, the suite features a 1,000-square-foot terrace and elegant, contemporary furnishings that cost the hotel 0,000. But the views aren’t just pretty — they’re protected. Every window here is bulletproof.

“We have always been known for our attention to detail, discreet service, guest recognition and Georgetown address,” said Liliana Baldassari, director of public relations for the Four Seasons in Washington. “Our security is trained to expect the unexpected. With over 25 years of experience and a team of 10, security and safety is their top priority.”

The Royal Suite has the capacity to become an entirely separate wing within the hotel, and the entry hallway from the main corridor may be closed, allowing guests to encompass two additional bedrooms or the entire six-bedroom wing for absolute privacy and flexibility.

The suite will lead guests into the living space below via twin stairways. The private dining room will feature glass doors, a kitchen pantry with separate service entrance, and a view to the private terrace. The public space includes a wine bar, library, conversation area with oversize Italian sofas, and media area outfitted with Bang & Olufsen audio and video systems, including a 60-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) drop-from-the-ceiling screen for amazing movie watching.

The private living space of the Royal Suite will include his and her walk-in closets, an oversize bathroom with vessel tub, a ladies dressing area, bedroom with wool-and-silk wall-to-wall carpeting, and an exercise room with massage table, elliptical trainer and treadmill.

Park Hyatt Washington D.C. Like the Four Seasons, the Park Hyatt Washington D.C. will be debuting its newly renovated presidential suites just in time for the Presidential Inauguration.

The Park Hyatt — which underwent its own million overhaul in 2006 — is home to five presidential suites, which start at ,000 a night. The hotel’s suites will combine the upscale, modern details for which the hotel is known along with touches of classic Americana. According to the hotel, a refined mix of solid walnut floors and walls, hand-woven carpets, hand-carved red travertine tubs, and linen-covered walls and ceilings will create an eclectic space that fits in with the Park Hyatt’s sophisticated style.

At the same time, the hotel promises the new suites will make travelers feel instantly comfortable. “We are very excited about the new suites, and we think the rest of Washington will be too,” said Courtenay Dundy, director of sales and marketing for the Park Hyatt in D.C. “The thing that will set these rooms apart is the residential design and feel of the rooms, which is consistent with the Tony Chi design of the hotel.”

Other Running Mates Unlike the two candidates in the U.S. presidential race, the list of hotels with top-rated presidential suites in Washington isn’t limited to two properties. Here’s a sampling of some of the other top presidential contenders.

For truly “presidential” views, the Hay-Adams Hotel’s location a stone’s throw across from the White House puts it ahead of the competition. The small but stately hotel’s Presidential Suite is a roomy penthouse overlooking the White House, Lafayette Park and St. John’s Church, while the Federal Suite offers a small balcony that opens up so that you can practically peek inside the Oval Office. In all, there are 20 suites, varying from 500 to 1,000 square feet, each sumptuously decorated while maintaining the hotel’s original historic appeal.

Further down on 15th and M Streets, the Madison offers three large suites, including its presidential rendition, which features striking architecture molding, watercolor damask wall coverings and custom-designed Axminister carpeting. Four adjoining bedrooms can also be added to the suite’s master bedroom for extra space.

Not far away along Connecticut Avenue stands the historic Marriott Renaissance Mayflower, which recently underwent million in updates and boasts a variety of security arrangements to accommodate high-level delegations and guests.

And further down in the more secluded Woodley Park neighborhood, the Omni Shoreham’s presidential suite offers apartment-style accommodations with scenic views of the surrounding Rock Creek Park. And unlike many other large hotels, the windows actually open so you can take in some fresh air — which, after taking in all the presidential politicking, might be a good thing.

About the Author

Christine Cub