Boston’s FleetCenter may have been the venue meticulously converted into a staging space for the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC), but Harvard Square’s Charles Hotel became the home to hundreds of VIPs and celebs who descended upon Boston this week to attend the convention, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actors Ben Affleck and Danny Glover, singer Patty LaBelle, left-leaning filmmaker Michael Moore, comic pundit Al Franken ’73—and, not least of all, both Clintons.
Located in Cambridge, just adjacent to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and owned by close Clinton friend Richard Friedman—who has also donated many thousands to the party—the Charles seemed like the natural place for very important Democrats to crash for the week.
That is, the famous and rich ones.
“We’re kind of only for celebrities and VIP types,” Charles Hotel Director of Public Relations Sophie Zunz told The Crimson on Wednesday. “There are no delegates staying here.”
Zunz said that The Charles signed a contract with the DNC Committee agreeing to fork over 80 percent of their hundreds-a-night rooms to donors and VIP types. As for the other 20 percent?
“We were booked solid six months ago,” Zunz said.
As for the question many are asking—did Bill and Hillary book one room or two?—Zunz was quick to settle rumors.
“Of course they stay in the same room! They’re married,” Zunz blurted to The Crimson, in response to a question about whether reporters were calling the hotel to ask about the couple’s sleeping arrangements.
But volunteers for the DNCC handing out fliers and information packets in the Charles’ lobby all week said that signs suggested the power couple were not particularly close.
“Hillary and Bill never left the hotel together. Not once,” said volunteer Jessica Fothergill.
A hotel employee told The Crimson that Bill checked out on Tuesday morning, while Hillary remained at the Charles through at least yesterday.
And Hillary seemed a little busier than Bill, the volunteers reported.
“She was in and out of the hotel in a minute,” Marsha Finkelstein said. “But Bill, he would shake everyone’s hands, meet everyone in the room. It is like a ballet—he just walked into a room and just dazzled everyone, and he doesn’t leave a room until everyone is satisfied.”
“Bill is just the master of making you feel special. And he’s very sincere,” Finkelstein added.
“I think he freaked out security a little bit when he went to Alpha Omega to buy a watch,” Fothergill said, referring to the upscale Square shop.