Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC

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Which Historic Hotel hosted The Beatles before their first public concert in the United States?

Like many hotels in Washington, the Omni Shoreham Hotel has been a backdrop for political history, having hosted numerous congressmen, United States Presidents, and even an Ethiopian emperor. But not many hotels can claim the same role in musical history. While many notable musicians have passed through this historic hotel, the Omni Shoreham Hotel is particularly well known as the chosen accommodation for The Beatles ahead of their first public concert on American soil.



The Beatles in front of United States Capitol, February 1964.

On February 7, 1964, the Fab Four—dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark bowl haircuts—arrived in the United States for the first time. Following a performance at the Ed Sullivan Show in New York City, which drew an estimated 73 million US television views (about 40% of the US population), The Beatles boarded a train and arrived in Union Station on the 10th of February. Despite the hefty snowstorm sweeping the city, thousands gathered to welcome the band to the nation’s capital.



The Beatles arriving at Union Station, Washington, DC, February 10, 1964.

“Beatlemania” arrived amid immense fanfare at the Omni Shoreham Hotel that evening. The hotel’s manager at the time, Phil Hollywood, recounted the whirlwind experience to The Washington Post in 2014:

"They made quite a scene," said Hollywood. "They were such nice men. Brian Epstein, their discoverer and manager, was easy enough to deal with. Still, we had problems -- worst of all was getting them in and out of the hotel."

He recalls that the band stayed in room 625 (now a Presidential Suite), with guards lining the entire sixth floor. Hollywood arranged for The Beatles to use the freight elevators to enter the hotel to avoid the thousands of screaming women waiting in the Shoreham lobby, desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the sensational British band.



Left: The Beatles playing in the snow outside the Coliseum; Right: Crowds gather outside the Coliseum in anticipation of The Beatles' concert.

On February 11, 1964, The Beatles would depart the hotel and head to the Coliseum for their first public concert. But first, they needed to get camera-ready. Hollywood recalls that earlier that morning, Gerda Ashton, a cashier at the Shoreham, went home to get her hair dryer after the Fab Four had requested one to set their signature bowl cuts.



Left: The Beatles pose for a picture with the Omni Shoreham staff; Right: The Beatles performing at the Coliseum.

The Beatles boarded their bus to the venue in the hotel’s basement after sneaking through an unused ballroom and the kitchen, where they shook hands with the cooks and other members of the hotel staff. Their concert at the Coliseum was a massive success and further cemented the band’s iconic status in American pop culture.



The Beatles' set list (from top to bottom): Roll Over Beethoven, From Me To You, I Saw Her Standing There, This Boy, All My Loving, I Wanna Be Your Man, Please Please Me, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist and Shout, Long Tall Sally.

Today, guests at the Omni Shoreham Hotel can experience a piece of this historic concert. John Lennon jotted down the set list of 12 songs on hotel stationary, a copy of which is proudly displayed in the hotel’s lobby.

This has been a Historic Hotels History Mystery.
For more fun facts, trivia, and historic highlights, check out our History Mystery pages for Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. Subscribe to our newsletter below and follow us on social media to play along.

Question: Which Historic Hotel hosted The Beatles before their first public concert in the United States?

  1. The Plaza
  2. Omni Shoreham Hotel
  3. The Redbury New York
  4. Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square
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