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The Temporary Halls of Power

MIN READMar 5, 2017 | 14:01 GMT

The Beau-Rivage Palace hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. The politically neutral space hotels provide can make them ideal spaces for leaders to convene for consultation in times of crisis.
Diplomats from countries involved in the Syrian civil war converged on the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, in late 2016 for peace talks. The politically neutral space hotels provide can make them ideally suited for such purposes.

(FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Wherever elite barons of authority convene can, at least temporarily, join the ranks of the world's important spaces. Well before Donald Trump's eponymous luxury chain drew global notice, elite hotels played a supporting role in momentous political gatherings. In countries where power is contested, a hotel's neutral space might be the only option for political or military rivals to engage in talks or trade information. The lobby of a busy international hotel can host a cross-section of visitors. Local residents and tourists could find themselves mingling with business executives, politicians, journalists, aid workers or intelligence agents who all populate the "neutral territory" offered by hotel spaces. Facilities that gain popularity among the powerful can become targets of intelligence agency surveillance. But for the most part, a hotel visitor can count on a degree of anonymity, adding to their appeal as a space of power....

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