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The Fairmont Gold on the 9th floor is accessed via a gold key elevator and has a private check-in and check-out. (Image: Courtesy Fairmont, Washington, D.C.)

Kick your hotel stay up a notch-- all the way to the Club Level

When a 4 or 5 star hotel isn't quite enough and you're really craving VIP treatment, it's time to take it up a level -- to the Club Level that is. Of course, it will cost you, and not all Club Floors are created equal. It can run anywhere from $100 to over $300 extra, so it's important to know what's behind those "gilded doors." We checked out the best in the area.

Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental is all about superior service. First stop, the front desk where they offered us a cup of tea and a cold towel then escorted us to the Tai Pan Club Lounge to check in. The large Asian-inspired lounge is located on the 8th floor and has expansive windows to take full advantage of a true Washington view, from the Tidal Basin to the Washington Monument -- our room had a view of the Potomac and Jefferson Memorial. There is plenty of seating, exquisite white orchids, a fireplace, a well-stocked bar, and even a tiny balcony. The lounge is a perfect place to grab a snack (bags of chips, pretzels, cookies, coffee and cold drinks) and leave your luggage in case your room isn't ready. Plus it features two of our favorite words: Open Bar. In the evening, hors d'oeuvres (dumplings, sushi, humus, cheeses, meats and bite-sized cheesecake) were set out. Breakfast was a mini buffet with everything you would want: scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, chicken sausage, egg roll-up, bagels and smoked salmon, assorted breads, smoothies and fruit. Of course the concierge is happy to assist you with tours, reservations and directions. It's walking distance to, but not in the heart of, downtown D.C.. But, if you're like me and love to walk, that's just a bonus. So charge up your Fit Bit before booking!

Fairmont

The Fairmont Gold on the 9th floor is accessed via a gold key elevator and it too has private check-in and check-out. Everything on the floor has been newly renovated, including the elegant foyer. The friendly multi-lingual staff helps with reservations and offers advice. We were personally escorted to our luxurious contemporary king room decorated in shades of gray with touches of deep purple. The Gold Floor has three presidential suites, although we didn't spring for more than a Gold Floor deluxe room. There are plenty of snacks in case you get a candy craving, and soft drinks, coffee and water. There are even games to play just in case you need a little down time. Evening canap├ęs had an Asian twist with ginger noodles, sushi, dumplings, and cheese and meats. There's an honor bar set up with every kind of liquor and mixed drink imaginable. Breakfast was an over-the-top buffet with cheese blintzes, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, smoked salmon, meats, cheese, pastries and cappuccino. It certainly held us over to dinner.

Ritz-Carlton

The big Lounge on the 9th floor has a marble fireplace and plenty of seating for small and larger groups. And with continuous culinary and beverage presentation at the Ritz-Carlton's Club Lounge, you can eat all day. We arrived during lunch and it was exactly what I love--roasted veggies, salads, and sandwiches. After lunch, enjoy homemade cookies, fruit and nuts. Evening hors d'oeuvres included salads, individual roast beef, salmon, four different cheeses and more. My favorite part of any food offerings is dessert, and these were over the top! We're talking chocolate fondue with pineapple, strawberries and other fruits, chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate cake. All libations are complimentary. Yes, there was beer and wine, but also Champagne, Prosecco and cocktails. We could even have cordials -- Baileys and Hennessy to name drop a few. The concierge is there to help in any way they can.

Grand Hyatt

The Hyatt's lobby bustles with constant activity so it's especially nice to have access to the 12th floor Grand Club for some peace and quiet. There is a separate area with table and chairs if you would like to eat breakfast, have snacks all day long or enjoy hors d'oeuvres and soft drinks there. Rich wood display cabinets, couches and chairs are in another section of the Lounge. The exceptionally friendly staff is happy to help you if you want something special that isn't out, say bacon for breakfast. There is a well stocked honor bar. They even had a bank of iPads and computers if you wanted to do some work outside of the confines of your room in a more social setting.

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