Video: Beltway-bound: Sizing up the presidential suite

updated 1/4/2009 12:19:39 AM ET 2009-01-04T05:19:39

Michelle Obama and her two daughters arrived Saturday in Washington, ahead of President-elect Barack Obama who was expected to make the trip the next day.

The Obamas arrived at their temporary home at the Hay-Adams Hotel, near the White House, on Saturday evening. Aides confirmed their arrival only after the Obamas checked into the hotel and declined to release any details. They had no public schedule.

The Obamas moved early so their daughters — 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia — could start classes on Monday at the private Sidwell Friends School, an aide said. Other children of well-known politicians to attend the school include Al Gore III and Chelsea Clinton.

The Obamas are staying at the storied Hay-Adams because Blair House, the government's official guest residence, was booked solidly through Jan. 15, the Bush administration said. Blair House is located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House and has previously housed presidents-elect before taking the oath of office. The Obamas will relocate there on Jan. 15 and stay until the inauguration on Jan. 20.

The Obamas returned to Chicago early Friday morning after a 12-day family vacation at a $9 million rental home in his native Hawaii. A day later, Michelle Obama and her daughters flew into the Washington area to take over their suite at the historic Hay-Adams.

Security to intensify
The scene outside the hotel was quiet Saturday night, except for two news vans with accompanying crews hoping to get a shot of Michelle Obama and her daughters going in and out.

Security will intensify for Barack Obama's arrival on Sunday. The district's government is shutting down several streets near the hotel to traffic and there will be no street parking nearby from 1 a.m. Sunday morning until midnight on Jan. 15, according to its Web site.

Opened in 1928, the hotel sits across Lafayette Square from the White House, Obama's eventual work place and home. Its name comes from two historical figures who lived on the site: John Hay, the private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later secretary of state, and Henry Adams, an author and descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

The Hay-Adams has 145 rooms and suites, featuring marble bathrooms, intricately carved plaster ceilings and ornamental fireplaces and balconies — with views of the White House, Lafayette Square and St. John's Church — in certain rooms.

Room amenities include custom Italian bed linens and towels, goose down duvets and pillows (hypoallergenic pillows are available; Malia has allergies), plush microfiber bathrobes and slippers for adults and kids, Bose CD music systems with assorted CDs, exclusive Etro toiletries, complimentary Fiji bottled water and a nightly turndown service.

After throwing open its doors, the hotel quickly attracted prominent Washingtonians and other elites, including aviators Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, author Sinclair Lewis and actress Ethel Barrymore. Its restaurant is a top destination for "power dining" and is a regular meeting place for White House officials.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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