A room with some history. (ATR)
(ATR) “There’s something you should know about your room,” the hotel manager told us as we returned one evening during our visit to cover the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer.
At first I had a blast of panic that something really bad had happened. A flooded room from a burst pipe, maybe. It must be serious for Liv Gun Gratzer to be there in the hotel lobby, intercepting us before we headed to room 21.
It was a simple room, cozy with a couple of chairs and a desk under an overhang where I regularly bumped my head. The window overlooked a ravine with a rushing stream, a sluiceway that powered the grain mill that used to occupy this building a century ago. It’s now the Molla Hotel in downtown Lillehammer – molla the Norwegian word for mill.
All was quite well as Gratzer revealed: “Hillary Clinton stayed in your room".
Cold Clintons: Chelsea and mother Hillary at opening ceremony in 1994.
Clinton, then a 46-year old First Lady, led the U.S. delegation to the 1994 Winter Olympics. Accompanied by teen daughter Chelsea, the pair shivered in the below freezing opening ceremony and followed events where U.S. athletes were in the medal hunt. Clinton stood next to alpine gold medalist Tommy Moe as he took a call from the president using a brick of a mobile phone.
While Mrs. Clinton slept in a mountain lodge during her visit, she used the Molla Hotel as her in-town base for a couple of days. Gratzer's revelation solved our puzzlement about the word “Klinten” painted below the number 21 on the door to our room.
Secret Service agents stationed themselves in an office but 12 feet away. A meeting room on the other side provided a place for staff. An elevator was two steps away. For a visit by the First Lady the logistics were perfect, even if the hotel wasn’t the sort of place you would expect a resident of the
Liv Gun Gratzer (ATR)
White House to stay.
The furnishings then were rustic Norwegian, Gratzer says, although the décor and bath all have been completely redone since.
Gratzer, who worked at the reception desk during the Clinton visit, recalled the White House contacted the hotel just a few days before to see if any space was available.
Gratzer says she doesn’t remember that Clinton had much contact with the hotel staff. There are no pictures of her visit, which lasted but two days, and she didn’t sign the guest book.
For the remainder of our stay we relished the notion of padding about our accommodations literally in the footsteps of the woman who might become the first female President of the United States.
Molla Hotel (ATR)
With hundreds of guests sleeping in this room since 1994 any ghosts of the First Lady’s visit appear to have been exorcised. The Clinton name on the door is the only evidence of her stay.
“George Washington Slept Here” was the title of a 1942 Jack Benny film comedy about a hotel in Pennsylvania where the first U.S. president supposedly stayed. In Lillehammer a glitzy mountain lodge will get that title from the Clinton journey to the Olympics.
But Gratzer notes there still was a bed in room 21 when Hillary Clinton visited.
So for the cozy Molla Hotel “Hillary Clinton Napped Here” may be the way more modest way it takes a place in White House lore.
Written by Ed Hula.
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