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I am standing 27 stories high in the sky, dressed in nothing but a soft and furry dressing gown embossed with five very large, golden letters. Below me Chicago is bunkering down on this, the coldest weekend of a bleak winter; centimetres of fresh snow cling to the stern, angular faces of gothic buildings of this real-life Gotham City (Chicago was used as the setting in The Dark Knight).
Below me, businessmen who look like ants from where I stand, scurry down freshly salted streets, seeking warmth … somewhere. But I'm as warm as toast, freshly popped, here beside my faux roaring log fireplace. As I peer out through floor-to-ceiling glass windows onto the world below me – the Chicago River swollen with bulging ice, and Lake Michigan to my left useless for boats without icebreaker bows – I am master of my domain, the boss of this barren but beautiful Artic-like world. I have a hardback copy of a book entitled Luxury Toys open to the Wally Wallpower 118 – the world's fastest motor yacht (whose top speed is a stomach-churning 120 kmh) – and my television (which takes up half of the wall of my enormous suite) is suggesting awfully-good-chance-of-getting-rich-quick stocks.
From here, near the top of the city's most imposing tower, it's me who rules Chicago, like Capone once did. The only thing that's causing me consternation is the thought that the bloke who owns this building, and the bloke whose name is written across the back of my gown (and that of my partner's ... you try waking up to that) most probably had these same delusions of grandeur at this very same spot. For the letters I have across my back are a T, an R, a U, an M and a P. And right now I'm in the beating heart of the wannabe messiah's global empire.
As the planet's most-talked-about politician blows his proverbial trumpet right across the US, I'm checking into the fanciest suite of one of his most celebrated hotels to see if he builds hotels better than he builds strategic alliances with Muslims and Mexicans.
And so far, aside from the Southerner in the baseball cap who leaned across me as I sipped a roter veltliner at rakish Rebar ("take a look at that frozen river, they don't do that back home… not sure if people where I'm from will be more impressed with a frozen river than that I'm staying in Donald Trump's hotel," he tells me), there's nothing at all to suggest the calamity that is the politician's presidential campaign has had any impact on his hotels.
In fact, Trump International Hotel & Tower oozes of class that's both in-your-face and of the more subtle variety. I could do without the Trump facial soap bars and the Trump body lotion in my king-of-the-world-sized bathroom (Trump, it appears, suffers from the same affliction as high-school students who need to see their name scrawled across every one of their possessions) but right from check-in when a demure receptionist greets me as warmly as a long-lost buddy, I have the feeling everything in Trump Tower is going to be hunky dory (as the Americans might say). The hotel calls this sort of attention to service: The Trump Attache – it's of a standard they say beats having your own concierge or butler.
Hmm, big call, but there is a bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne on ice waiting for me in my suite. And when I enter Rebar on the first floor, staff all seem to know who I am (does Trump investigate his guests' backgrounds and send dossiers with photos to his staff?). But it's when I ride the elevator to Trump International's two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Sixteen, that things go to another level again.
"Mr Tansley," I'm informed as I walk through the glass doors. "How did you know?" I ask, but no-one's giving away the secret. I'm surrounded immediately upon sitting under a three-tiered chandelier by staff in white dinner suits, pouring fine French wine, popping champagne corks and presenting caviar, lobster cakes, truffles, rare beef and other treats gathered from all corners of the sprawling Trump empire.
Despite this omnipresent ensemble of fancy folk and their even fancier fare – and amid a Christ-era Roman feast/ orgy comprising endless bottles of fortune-fancy European wines and rare gastronomical delights whose ingredients taste nothing like they do when anyone else cooks them – Sixteen somehow manages to negate that infamous Trump ego and remove the pretence from what could be a Tom Wolfe-devised Masters Of The Universe setting. I'm finding this is a common characteristic in Trump International Hotel & Tower: you're consistently taken to the point where things become a little over-the-top, but you're never… quite… tipped over the edge.
After the feast, I sleep in a bed that's wider than it is long (important for power CEOs who like to mix things up by sleeping cross-wise, to keep their edge). In the morning, I press the button to my automatic curtains and open up the white world I control below me.
In slippers embossed with T-R-U-M-P, I pace the length of my suite surveying the minions below me and think about the man who created everything around me.
God help us all if he becomes president, but the bloke sure knows how to make excess feel like it fits you like a glove, even if only for a night.
Qantas offers direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to LA and onward connections to Chicago with code-share partner American Airlines. qantas.com.au
Trump International Hotel & Tower offers deluxe and executive guestrooms, spa guestrooms and deluxe and grand deluxe suites, starting at $US375 per night. See trumphotelcollection.com/chicago/, and for more on Sixteen see sixteenchicago.com.
Craig Tansley was a guest of Trump International Hotel & Tower.