Over the years, I have stayed in a lot of hotels all over the world. Some of them were the lowest category hotels (both in point redemptions and in quality!) and others were top hotels in those areas that were really great. In hotels like that, it is not uncommon to have some fellow hotel guests that are famous – whether it be athletes, performers, politicians, etc.
I have stayed in some hotels that had a head of state or high government diplomat staying there at the same time. While not all presidential or prime minister stays are the same, I thought it would be interesting to at least share my experiences on what it is like to have a head of state of VIP stay in my hotel.
What It’s Like to Have a Head of State or Government VIP Stay in Your Hotel
Security Protocols – Be Prepared For Longer Wait Times
One of the first indicators, when you arrive at your hotel, that a head of state or some other important diplomat is staying there is the metal detectors and heavy police presence. The hotels I have stayed at do not inform the guests ahead of time (for security reasons, of course) that this will be in place so it can always come as a bit of surprise!
Security Screening and Parking Lot Changes
It is similar to going into the airport – put your luggage and personal belongings on the scanner belt and walk through the metal detector. After that, pick up your stuff and head to your check-in desk.
If you are parking at the hotel, you may find that you cannot park in any of the places closest to the entrance. Those are blocked off and you will either need to park in more distant lots or use valet parking (even then, your car may not be located very near the hotel, depending on the VIP staying there).
Guests that have lingered near the room where it is supposed the head of state is staying have been asked to move along. When they have stood there with a backpack or something, officers have asked if they can see the room key card to know if they need to be in this area or to ask them to move.
Depending on the layout of the hotel and the stature of the head of state, the hotel may have an entire floor locked out to the public and that is where the head of state would stay. If the hotel is not situated like that, expect to have guards in the hallways when you are anywhere near the suite of the VIP.
Speaking of those guards, get used to seeing them all over the grounds! We have had them in the restaurant, the lounge, the outdoor areas, the pool, and the parking lot – and they are there the whole time the president/prime minister is actually at the hotel (there have been smaller units when the person is away at the moment).
Rooms Near the VIP
At one hotel that I have been a frequent visitor at, I have actually been given a suite very near the suite where the government VIP was staying. That meant that our section of the hallway was the most secure hotel hallway in the city! 🙂
When the hotel is crowded and a visitor like that is staying there, the hotel still needs to place people in those rooms near the VIP. I have found that if it is a visitor that has been there before that the hotel knows and that is not just booking a room during the same time the VIP is there, chances are pretty good that frequent visitor will be located in the rooms nearest the VIP.
Hotel Staff May Be More Customer Friendly
Let me say – the hotels I have stayed at while a head of state or VIP official was there have been very proactive in making sure the guests are still able to have a good time in spite of the upgraded security measures!
In some of these hotels, I have either been told by staff or you can tell that the staff really does not like this type of arrangement. Of course, it is good for the prestige of the hotel to have such guests but it also puts stress on hotel operations and can often make guests become angry with the staff if things are limited.
These Stays Are Tough on Hotel Staff
It is a tough call – yes, you may want the prestige but is it enough to make up for having regular hotel guests become upset and frustrated with the security protocols? At one of these hotels, there is also a gym that nearby residents pay a hefty monthly fee to use. Every day they enter the hotel to use the gym, they have to go through these checks. Also, sometimes these VIP guests are coming at peak travel season which means that the hotel runs the risk of having many tourists get angry and leave bad reviews of their experience there. When that happens, this can cost way more than the prestige the VIP would bring.
In these situations, continue to be courteous (as we always should anyways!) and you may find that simple requests may receive an upgraded response. The hotel staff recognizes that these situations are difficult on the guests and they have gone out of their way in the past to treat guests who are polite with the situations. This is one way to make sure that these guests, especially any elite members, receive a better stay than the situation might otherwise have called for.
So, be friendly and you may find yourself getting upgraded for any troubles you have during your stay! 🙂
Enjoy Your Meal – And Let Them Enjoy Their Meal
If you are having breakfast in the hotel restaurant, chances are pretty good that you may see this head of state/diplomat. If it is another meal, they are probably having it with someone at a nicer place than a hotel restaurant. But, breakfast is an easy meal to get before they start their busy day and it is easiest to take it in the hotel restaurant.
I have seen some of these officials in the restaurants, often just a few tables from me. They always are surrounded by their security detail and sometimes have someone join them for a discussion. This has never seemed like a good time to try and go over to speak with them or to get a selfie or something. 🙂 In fact, the few people that I have seen try that often don’t get past the security team. So, just concentrate on enjoying your own breakfast!
Staying at a hotel while a head of state is there can be an interesting experience! Sure, the security procedures may be a bit of a inconvenience but it also tells you what it means for such a person to choose to stay at that hotel! In fact, I have even stayed in the same room that prime ministers and presidents of some countries have stayed in when they were at the hotel – kind of cool!
But, just because a prime minister or other official stays in another hotel in the same city doesn’t mean the hotel you have selected is not fantastic. Many great hotels have turned down government requests or not made themselves available primarily because they realize it can be a huge inconvenience to you, their guest.
Have you ever stayed in a hotel at the same time a head of state was there?