The Queen’s flag – or absence of it – announces whether or not she is in residence at Buckingham Palace. At large hotels flags flown above the entry perform a similar task, hinting that notables are in the house, whether a visiting government or a football team.
The only flags flying in front of the Warwick Hotel this week were the stars and stripes and the red Warwick banner. But anyone following current events who chanced by knew precisely who had checked in.
A fence of concrete police barriers — and a contingent of uniformed police officers — is a lot less subtle than a flag. Then again the paying guests included 140 visitors from Iran, among them President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in town for the opening of the 67th session of the General Assembly. Interesting hotel choice by the Iranian delegation. Press baron William Randolph Hearst, never one to sidestep international tensions, built the hotel back in 1926.