Inside Blair House, the presidential guest house that's bigger than the White House and known as the 'world's most exclusive hotel'

blair house trump bush

Summary List Placement

The White House may be the most famous building along
Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, but there’s a lesser-known
government residence next door that has played a role in US history
and American diplomacy for decades.

The Blair House, just steps from the north lawn of the White
House, is the official presidential guest house.

Since World War II, it has acted as the “world’s
most exclusive hotel
,” hosting heads of state, royalty, and

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife
stayed there for three days during President Donald
Trump’s first official state visit.

And former President George W. Bush stayed there with his family
before his father’s DC funeral.

While the White House remains the main meeting location for US
presidents and their foreign visitors, the guest house carries
significance. Take a look inside Blair House.

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Blair House is the official presidential guesthouse.

It’s just across the street from the White House, at 1651
Pennsylvania Ave.

Blair House was built in the 1820s as a home for Joseph Lovell, the
eighth surgeon general of the US Army.

In 1836, Francis Blair, a close friend and supporter of President
Andrew Jackson, bought the home for $6,500.

The US government then purchased it in 1942, while Franklin D.
Roosevelt was president.

It has since served as the official guesthouse for foreign
dignitaries, heads of state, and visiting delegations to

President Harry S. Truman stayed in the house for about four years
during his presidency while the White House was being renovated.

In 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate Truman
at the guesthouse. Police officers who stopped them from entering
the home killed one and wounded the other at the scene.

Today, Blair House makes up a complex of “four seamlessly connected
townhomes,” with 110 rooms across roughly 70,000 square feet.

Sources: US State
, Blair

It’s technically larger than the White House.

Sources: US State
, Blair

Each of Blair House’s 14 guest rooms has “a full bathroom, three
formal dining rooms, two large conference rooms, a hot and cold
kitchen overseen by an executive chef and sous chef, a fully
equipped beauty salon, an exercise room, and an in-house laundry

Source: Blair

There are also conference rooms, a library, and many seating areas
for more intimate meetings. The finishings are traditional and

“Since Blair House isn’t a hotel, the approach is to make guests
feel like they’re staying in a personal residence,” says an article
about the property in the November 2001 edition of the US
Department of State’s magazine.

Source: State

Only those who are officially invited by the president are allowed
to stay there.

But an exception is made for presidents waiting to be sworn into
office during the transition period.

The residence is officially managed by the State Department’s
Office of the Chief of Protocol. Full-time staff members are
responsible for cleaning and preparing the home for visitors.

Since major renovations in the 1980s, Blair House has been a
frequent meeting place for bilateral negotiations and high-level

A few notable guests include Queen Elizabeth II, King Juan Carlos
of Spain, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Visitors typically meet with a wide range of US officials at the

After a meeting at the White House in 2015, US President Barack
Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping walked to Blair House for a
private dinner.

A year later, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Aung San Suu
Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar who won the 1991 Nobel Peace

When foreign dignitaries stay there, their countries’ flags are
flown from the residence.

Source: Blair

US officials frequently hosts dinners, official receptions, and
parties at the residence, too.

Though few may know about the historical significance of Blair
House, it has played a key role in American diplomacy over the

From April 23 to 25, the Macrons stayed at Blair House during their
official state visit to the US — the first of Trump’s presidency.

When a former president dies, family members are also allowed to
stay at the residence before the funeral.

Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush
stayed there while they were in DC for his father, former President
George H.W. Bush’s, funeral in December 2018. The Trumps visited
them the night before the ceremony.
Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
Inside Blair House, the presidential guest house that's
bigger than the White House and known as the 'world's most
exclusive hotel'