Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Inside The £1400 a night hotel
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Inside The £14000 a Night Hotel

Daily Express 11th December 1986

IT'S THE Christmas gift for anyone who wants to leave their wallet in San Francisco; a room with a view and every luxury you can imagine—but at a price.

The Fairmont Hotel sits atop this city's aptly named Nob Hill and at the top of the Fairmont is the penthouse which is at present the world's most expensive hotel suite.
Until the end of this year the cost of one night's bed and board is £14,000.

So far the hotel's switchboard hasn't jammed but at the grand piano in the main room of the suite, the Fairmont's Melissa Cobb said, between sips of 1980 Domn Perignon (£74 a bottle): " There have been lots of serious inquiries."
The hotel's history mirrors that of San Francisco. It began as the dream of silver miner " Bonanza Jim " Fair who wanted to follow the cable cars to the top of Nob Hill and bought himself a block of property on the crest of the hill.

The 1906 earthquake turned his dream into a nightmare but within two years the hotel was back in business.

In 1927 the penthouse was built. For 30 years it was home to Maude Flood, the daughter of James Flood who hit the Comstock Lode which set off the 1859 Nevada Silver Bush.
However, the fittings in the three bathrooms today are 24 carat gold and the occupants a little more international, ranging from Princess Margaret to Pope Paul VI and every United States President since Eisenhower.

The two-level library, crammed with first editions, has a secret escape door. This, it is said, was used rather frequently by President Kennedy to allow a still prominent San Fransico socialite to slip away quietly after an evening's romance. And the penthouse is a place for romance.

Round-the-clock butler Mauricio Nuete, weighed down with ice bucket and bubbly Is never far away and from the patio there is a sweeping view of the bay and the Transamerica Pyramid which now dominates the San Francisco skyline.

The Fairmont is the "front" of the fictional St. Gregory Hotel featured on the television series " Hotel" based on Arthur Hailey's best-seller. On TV they have guests like Elizabeth Taylor and behind every door is a melodrama. The reality, and its super price tag, is almost as fantastic. The penthouse comprises eight rooms, four fitted with fireplaces inlaid with lapis lazuli, marble and wood. Throughout   there   are several   million   dollars   of original art on the walls.

There are three bedrooms, a library with a ceiling covered in gold-gilt constellations and a burglar-proof vault.

There's an enchanting Persian tiled games room and terraces and a dining room set for 20, although it can seat 50.

Then there are the bar, special dinnerware, silver, four    television    sets goosedown  pillows,  custom soaps   and   electric   shoe polisher. It has been available to the public for the past five years and normally costs £3,500 a night with no frills It is occupied for half the year ' "We hope a great deal of fun," says

Melissa Cobb
''The penthouse can sleep three couples and for the
money we are offeing other suites for seven more couples So, it can be for a party of 20 or just for a couple.
"One man from the Midwest wants it to celebrate his wife's birthday which is around Christmas.
"A. family are thinking about it for Christmas Evi and it s been booked well in advance for New Year's Eve.

With  the penthouse people are also buying privacy.
' We have strolling violinists ready to go for 24 hours, butler, chambermaid chefs.
" Yes, two chefs; one French, one Chinese. We guarantee any meal for 20 people and the wine list to match it.
" The regular price pays for the accommodation and the luxury and, of course, the
"Our special Christmas price covers the luxury of ordering a meal which might cost two or three hundred dollars a person. If you have 20 dining that adds up "

There are also three Rolls-Royces available at all times for the guest or guests.
Of course, going somewhere is not the problem. It's wondering whether you can afford to stay another night.

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