Inside the presidential guest house — the 'world's most exclusive hotel' that's bigger than the White House

The White House may be the most famous building along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, but there's another, lesser-known government residence next-door that has played its own role in US history.

The Blair House, located just steps away from the north lawn of the White House, is the official presidential guest house.

Since World War II, it has acted as the "world's most exclusive hotel", hosting heads of state, royalty, and presidents-elect.

While the White House remains the main meeting location for US presidents and their foreign visitors, the guest house carries unique significance for the role it has played in American diplomacy for decades.

Take a look inside Blair House:

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Inside the presidential guest house

Blair House is the official presidential guesthouse.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It's just across the street from the White House at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(Image via Google Maps)

Blair House was built in the 1820s as a home for Joseph Lovell, the eighth surgeon general of the US Army.

(Photo by Thomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

In 1836, Francis Blair, a close friend and supporter of President Andrew Jackson, bought the home for $6,500.

(Photo by Harvey Meston/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The US government then purchased it in 1942 while Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

(Photo by Thomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

It has served as the official guesthouse for foreign dignitaries, heads of state, and visiting delegations to Washington ever since.

(Photo via Getty Images)

President Harry Truman stayed in the house for about four years during his presidency while the White House was being renovated.

(Photo by Marie Hansen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

In 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate Truman at the guesthouse. Police officers stopped them from entering the home, killing one and wounding the other at the scene.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today, Blair House makes up a large complex of "four seamlessly connected townhomes", with 110 rooms total. At roughly 70,000 square feet, the complex is technically larger than the White House.

Sources: US State DepartmentBlair House

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

At Blair House, 14 guestrooms. "Each has a full bathroom, three formal dining rooms, two large conference rooms, a hot and cold kitchen overseen by an executive chef and sous chef, a fully equipped beauty salon, an exercise room, and an in-house laundry facility," according to the official Blair House website.

Source: Blair House

(Photo by Pete Souza/White House)

There are also conference rooms, a library, and many seating areas for more intimate meetings. The finishings are traditional and luxurious.

(Photo by Eric Draper/White House via Getty Images)

"Since Blair House isn't a hotel, the approach is to make guests feel like they're staying in a personal residence," according to an article on the property in the November 2001 edition of the US Department of State's official magazine.

Source: State Magazine

(Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Only those who are officially invited by the president are allowed to stay there.

(Photo by Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images)

But an exception is made for presidents waiting to be sworn into office during the transition period.

(Photo via Getty Images)

When a former president dies, family members are also allowed to stay at the residence before the funeral.

(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

The residence is officially managed by the State Department's Office of the Chief of Protocol. A full-time staff is responsible for cleaning and preparing the home for visitors.

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Since major renovations in the 1980s, Blair House has been a frequent meeting place for bilateral negotiations and high-level talks.

(Photo via Reuters)

Everyone from Queen Elizabeth II and King Juan Carlos of Spain, to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have stayed there.

(Photo credit should read JIM COLBURN/AFP/Getty Images)

Visitors typically meet with a wide range of US officials at the home.

(Photo credit should read BALTI/AFP/Getty Images)

After a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the White House in 2015, Barack Obama and Xi walked to the Blair House for a private dinner.

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A year later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry met with the civilian leader of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

(Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)

When foreign dignitaries stay there, their countries' flags are flown from the residence.

(Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

US officials frequently hosts dinners, official receptions, and parties at the residence, too.

(Photo by Antonio Bolfo/Getty Images)

Although few may know about the historical significance of Blair House, it has played a unique role in American diplomacy over the years.

(Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
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