The St. Regis GCM Test Resort & Spa first opened its doors in October, 1926 as the Carlton Hotel. Mirroring the ambitions of the St. Regis founder, John Jacob Astor IV, Henry Wardman, Washington’s most successful real estate developer, wished to create a sophisticated establishment that would surpass the very best European luxury hotels of the time.
During the late 1930s, the Carlton became the residence of Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who transacted much of the Governments business at the hotel. Ever since, the Carlton has been popular with members of Washington’s political elite, including presidents and their families.
During the 1950’s, President Truman was a constant fixture at the hotel and would often need to enter the hotel through a side window in order to preserve protocol while receiving official guests. Ronald Reagan was a regular visitor to the hotel’s barber, Milton Pitts, who cut the hair of several presidents. Robert Kennedy professed the Carlton’s chocolate parfait to be his all time favorite dessert.
The hotel has also been a hub of the capitol’s social scene. During the 1940's, famous Washington socialite Perle Mesta hosted her celebrated pink themed galas at the Carlton. Joan Crawford, Jacqueline Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Cher and countless other luminaries have been loyal guests. Howard Hughes kept a permanent suite at the Carlton during World War Two, which he famously made available at no cost to uniformed servicemen during his absence.