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The Jefferson's Concierge Gets Gowns, Jets for Guests

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Need to rent an expensive necklace to wear from a jeweler that shall remain anonymous? He's on it. A private jet to land in a rural town without an airport for a family emergency? It's a challenge, but sure.

Chris Adcock doesn't balk at such demands. Instead, he and his team deliver. Adcock works as head concierge for The Jefferson, a quiet boutique hotel located four blocks from the White House with 20 luxury suites.

It's clear why the destination is a favorite of high rollers. After all, what other luxurious lodging in the Washington area has secret passageways and displays a rare collection of antique paintings, including a portrait of a young Marquis de La Fayette, an American Revolution general, and original documents signed by Thomas Jefferson, the hotel's presidential namesake? Rooms at the hotel range from $300 to $8,000 a night, supplied with custom-made beds and in-house filtered water, among the many finer contents.

Adcock tries to keep mum on who exactly stays at The Jefferson, a 99-room hotel that reopened in 2009 after a two-year renovation. A quick review of the autographed books stocked on the shelf lining one of its study rooms, however, reveals some well-known visitors: Kofi Annan, former head of the United Nations; Lech Walesa, former president of Poland; and even Grant Achantz, a leading molecular gastronomy chef and owner of Alinea. Barack Obama has also held several fundraisers at the hotel for his second presidential bid, including one costing $35,800 per person.

The Jefferson typically doesn't attract an outrageously loud crowd. But pop singer Katy Perry revealed, in her inauguration photo diary in, that she and fellow musician and now "beau" John Mayer recently dined at the hotel's highly-acclaimed restaurant Plume, where they were "literally drinking history" with their flights of wine from 1800 to 1977 bottles.

Adcock tells Eater more about what went on during Inauguration Day, as well as why its regulars choose to stay at The Jefferson.

It was recently a big weekend here in Washington, D.C. You mentioned the city was quiet [in comparison to four years ago], but your hotel was busy. Can you tell me more about the activities surrounding the inauguration here?
Well, it was basically more individual than functions. We're not really big enough for functions like a ball. It was more focused to individual guests and their needs. One guest needed a gown because she forgot a gown. I had to find that. One gentleman needed specific shoes and I had to go out and find those. There was a zipper malfunction with a gown and I had to find a tailor. One person was out of the country and needed to get their inauguration tickets. I picked those up, which took about five hours standing in line. There are only two [concierges]. One had to man the fort so I chose to go.

What was the most expensive request surrounding the inauguration? I probably would the say gown. I basically facilitated the owner of [Risik's, a centenarian high-fashion boutique] to open the store for her and have a private fitting and selection.

Were these guests highly involved in the inauguration? A majority were guests, but definitely on the high-level. Directly going to a presidential inauguration is not just for regular parties. These guests are very important.

What types of guests are typically drawn to your hotel? About 95 percent are higher-end business travelers, lawyers, bankers and people more interested in a quieter environment where they can work and basically not be disturbed by a big lobby or big noisy bar. They'd rather have the quiet discretion of a smaller hotel.

Besides being a quiet hotel, what else is the draw? I would say the service level. It's very direct contact. There is no we-can't-do-this. Whatever they need, we can make it happen. Of course, within legality.

What's been the most challenging request from a guest since The Jefferson reopened in 2009? I had to hire a private jet at the last minute. This was last year for a guest flying to West Virginia to a town without an airport. So we had to find an area where they can land and logistically get him to a very isolated area for a family emergency. It was bad weather as well. That was two days of kind of stressful conversations on the phone. It was no choice. He had to get there. Whether we had to carry him, he had to get there.

I saw the intimate table with the curtains in the dining room. What does it take for a guest to get that table? Table 10. We call it "the nest". If it's not reserved, you can reserve it. It's $250 for a rental fee.

When it comes to places to eat in the Washington, D.C. area, do guests know where to go or do you make suggestions? I'd say 50-50. We do have a savvy clientele. A lot of them already know the new and hip restaurants. In their case, it's not that difficult because they usually know somebody or a contact we can call. It's the clientele with a blank slate that's a challenge. They generally don't know what they want and expect us to guide them through all the details, which I personally enjoy--starting from scratch and surprising them at the end.

Those hard-to-get reservations you mentioned. Which restaurants?
It depends on the day of the week. It's a continuous moving selection. I'd say probably the top of list are Komi, Columbia Room and Minibar. Again, these are places with very small dining rooms.

Do you think VIPs rely too much on concierge services?
Definitely not. That's why I'm here. If they didn't, then there would be no job. I'm glad that they still do. It's coming to the point where, I guess, guests are not as demanding. But what they do expect is basically service. There was a point, where you have this concierge-thing that "I can't do this. I'm sorry the hotel doesn't have this." But this hotel and hotels of this caliber can't afford to say no. So we have to do everything we can to facilitate.

Photo courtesy of The Jefferson

The Jefferson

1200 16th St NW Washington, DC 20036

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