A glimpse at some of the finest Presidential Suites in the world reveals that some of the amenities in just one of them include: Cantilevered glass balconies, a breathtaking library with a 26-foot cathedral ceiling, a Bösendorfer baby grand piano, lacquered walls with inlaid mother-of-pearl detailing, world-class art and a master bath clad in rare Chinese onyx.
In most hotels, the “Presidential Suite” will never host a U.S. president, but its very presence suggests a property possesses the requisite luxury for the most exclusive clientele. It is an opportunity for interior designers and staff to pull out all the stops to create the ultimate accommodations for heads of state, A-List celebrities or billionaire entrepreneurs.
Since James Monroe held the office, U.S. presidents have gravitated to The Greenbrier, the stately West Virginia resort 250 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., now a short flight aboard Air Force One. Surrounded by 11,000 rolling, wooded acres, the retreat has the serenity of Camp David but with world-class golf and cuisine. After a visit from President Eisenhower in 1956, a secret Cold War bunker was constructed at The Greenbrier for the relocation of Congress in the event of a nuclear attack.
Photos courtesy of the Greenbriar
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel
The Presidential Suite is located in a wing called The Windsor Club at The Greenbrier, and currently commands $25,000 per night. A sweeping staircase leads from the entertainment areas on the ground floor to seven bedrooms (all with en suite bathrooms) above. An additional 18 bedrooms for guests or staff are available upon request. Originally decorated by legendary interior designer Dorothy Draper, the Presidential Suite still features her signature style of American Baroque furniture and vibrant hand-painted wallpaper.
According to Dr. Robert S. Conte, the resort’s official historian and author of The History of The Greenbrier—America’s Resort, the suite was created in 1947 when the property was converted back to a hotel after serving as a U.S. Army hospital during World War II. “It’s at the end of a long corridor, which provides a sense of privacy and has a dedicated concierge,” reports Conte.
Of the 27 presidents who have stayed at The Greenbrier, only Eisenhower actually slept in the Presidential Suite, as other suites offer more manageable spaces. But its occupants have included Indian Prime Minister Nehru, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The 5,500-squre-foot suite is ideal for corporate entertaining, and one family has made a tradition of booking it every Christmas for 25 years.
On the 51st floor of the I.M. Pei-designed Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown Manhattan are a pair of beautifully appointed 1,350-square-foot “Presidential Suites” with stunning views of the New York skyline and neighboring Central Park. But heads of state, royalty or big-name celebrities may prefer to ascend to the Ty Warner Penthouse, a 4,300-square-foot suite with 360-degree views and extraordinary appointments. The Four Seasons reports the showcase suite, a collaboration of Pei, hotel owner Ty Warner and iconoclastic architect/interior designer Peter Marino, is the product of a $50 million investment.
The Ty Warner Penthouse features the four highest cantilevered glass balconies in the world, perched over one of New York’s most prestigious and strategic addresses. A breathtaking library offers a 26-foot cathedral ceiling, floor-to-ceiling bronze bookcases from French sculptor Claude Lalanne and a Bösendorfer baby grand piano. Lacquered walls with inlaid mother-of-pearl detailing, world-class art and a master bath clad in rare Chinese onyx contribute to the architectural drama, while service perks include a 24-hour dedicated guest manager and Rolls Royce with driver at the ready. The nightly rate for this opulence is about $60,000, arguably a bit pricy for a public servant.
On the other coast, a favorite spot of the rich and famous is the Hotel Bel-Air, whose attraction is not only its prestige but its seclusion. Buffered by 12 acres of landscaped gardens with an idyllic swan pond, the hotel’s Presidential Suite is understatedly elegant, with arched floor-to-ceiling windows, chandeliers hanging from coffered ceilings and luxurious limestone floors more suggestive of a grand residence than a hotel. A stunning Bianco Ondulare marble-clad fireplace and grand piano occupy the living room, while gracious dining for 10 is accommodated in a room with silver-laced, hand-painted walls. Guests pass through French doors into a private courtyard with its own swimming pool, reflective of the signature serenity of the entire property.
The Bel-Air’s versatile 6,775-square-foot Presidential Suite, for which the nightly rate starts at $15,000, is accessed through a private entrance ensuring privacy and providing a more residential feel. “The suite is situated in a compound layout, so anyone traveling with security or an entourage can have connecting suites or rooms,” explains Kayal Moore, assistant director of rooms at the Bel-Air. Addressing the enhanced service that complements the environment, he says, “We truly offer a unique and tailored stay for each guest.”
Everything on the Las Vegas Strip, where there is a different standard for conspicuous consumption, is over-the-top, so it should come as no surprise that the premier accommodations at the city’s iconic hotels are truly spectacular. Many decadent suites are set aside for high rollers at Caesar’s Palace (none officially titled “Presidential Suite”), some whose pink onyx bathtubs with 24-karat gold fixtures are better suited for pleasure than official business.
Photos courtesy of Caesar’s Hotel and Bel Air Hotel
Photos courtesy of Caesar’s Palace
When President Obama and family stayed at Caesar’s, they occupied the Cleopatra Villa and the adjoining Mark Antony Villa, totaling 20,000 square feet of lavish, marble-clad space with a glass-covered atrium, six bedrooms and an oversized outdoor spa. “Now that I’m president, they upgraded me,” Obama reportedly joked during his 2009 stay, acknowledging the over-the-top accommodations. The two combined suites, priced from $33,000 per night and favored by platinum record pop stars, royal families and tech tycoons — are accessed by secure private elevator and served by a dedicated butler 24 hours a day.
The Venetian, Las Vegas’ luxury Italianate hotel, offers not one but four Presidential Suites that combine understated elegance with a little glitz, consistent with a property that values artistic expression. Each suite’s 5,200 square feet of living space includes grand marble foyers, lavish dining rooms and a pair of bedrooms with elegant amenities. Naturally, the occupants have access to any of the hotel’s acclaimed chefs and can relax over a game of billiards in a stately game room. Hotel representatives report the Chairman Suites at The Venetian’s adjoining sister property, The Palazzo, are larger, flashier and even more befitting the highest of rollers.
Clearly, Washington, D.C. knows how to accommodate diplomats, prime ministers and sultans, with suites pre-approved by the Secret Service. The Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental, which has nightly rates starting at $15,000, offers spectacular views of the nation’s capital and traditional yet exquisite décor. A hexagonal living room with vaulted ceiling and crystal chandelier adds to the ease of entertaining in this 3,500-square-foot suite, where stunning spa-like contemporary bathrooms — the master features a two-person glass shower — adjoin spacious sleeping quarters.
Hotel manager Marie-Elise Lallemand insists the Mandarin Oriental’s Presidential Suite is the only one in the District with genuinely monumental views, noting its 180-degree panorama encompasses many of the capital city’s most recognizable landmarks. In fact, a circular window in the 10-seat dining room perfectly frames a postcard-worthy vista of the Washington Monument. “With two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, dining room with chef’s prep area, living room, office, sitting room, and grand foyer, our Presidential Suite is truly unique,” says Lallemand, who maintains the level of service is commensurate with the presidential premises.
Hotel Bel-Air • Los Angeles • www.dorchestercollection.com
Caesar’s Palace • Las Vegas • www.caesars.com
Four Seasons • New York • www.fourseasons.com
The Greenbrier • Sulphur Springs • West Virginia • www.greenbrier.com
Mandarin Oriental • Washington, D.C. • www.mandarinoriental.com
The Palazzo • Las Vegas • www.palazzo.com
The Venetian • Las Vegas • www.venetian.com