There are only 86 bedrooms at the American Colony Hotel and ten of them – more than an entire floor – have been booked indefinitely by Tony Blair to be used as offices by his mission to the Middle East.
The cost, much of it borne by the British taxpayer, is considerable. The Mail on Sunday has obtained a copy of Mr Blair’s contract with the hotel, which shows it is being paid nearly $1.34million – about £700,000 – annually for the office rooms alone.
When Mr Blair and his entourage of six bodyguards, a Press officer and Nick Banner, a former member of his team at Downing Street, are in town, the space available at the Colony shrinks still further.
Although the well appointed British Consulate-General is just three streets away, they sleep at the Colony – adding about £2,000 per night to the bill, not including food.
Since Mr Blair’s appointment last June, the mission has also purchased a £75,000 armoured car and spent £55,000 on security, £15,000 on phones, computers and stationery, £2,500 on car rental and £20,000 on general administration.
Naturally enough, when Mr Blair flies to Israel, something he does at least once a month, he and Mr Banner go first-class on British Airways, a return fare costing £2,424 each.
The bodyguards have to put up with club, which costs £1,732.
Mr Blair was appointed largely due to pressure from President Bush. He and his peace mission work for the diplomatic Quartet, an ad hoc coalition of the UN, the EU, Russia and the US.
The only thing the Quartet has ever produced has been failure. But I guess we’re not supposed to notice that.