a smoke-filled room

a smoke-filled room

COMMON If someone says that a political or business decision is made in a smoke-filled room, they mean that it is made by a small group of people in a private meeting, rather than in a more democratic or open way. We're not going to see a return to the smoke-filled room, in which a few ministers and company bosses made all the decisions. Note: This was first used to refer to the suite in the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago where Warren Harding was chosen as the Republican presidential candidate in 1920.
See also: room