RIP Trump International, DC’s Wildest Hotel

The six-year-old Trump International Hotel Washington DC attempted to quietly disappear on the night of May 11, 2022 (unfortunately for the Trump family, there’s no way Twitter was going to let it go). His passing was preceded by years of complications and a deadly $375 million final sale to a group of Miami investors, who will rebrand the hotel as the Waldorf-Astoria. His sign fell last night.

The DC Trump Hotel was born on October 26, 2016. It was a difficult birth – approximately 6,985,427 hours of work and the untimely loss of chef-partners José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian (blame family patriarch Donald Trump, who called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” and was elected president). But the hotel was a fighter from the start — multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the chiefs were eventually settled — and his rocky start would set the tone for a truly wild life in the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue to the northwest.

Trump International DC is survived by sister properties in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas, as well as a cousin, Trump Winery in Virginia. The hotel joins a growing number of Trump Family businesses in the Greater Beyond, including Trump Airlines, Trump Casinos, Trump Magazine, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump University, and the Trump Presidency.

No obituary is complete without some life highlights. Here are some of our fondest and weirdest memories.

Born with a golden spoon (of wine)

A theft of wine spoons from the Trump Hotel. Photograph by Daniel Swartz.

The gold-and-velvet hotel has tried to establish itself as a creator of high-end taste. His crown jewel restaurant, David Burke’s BLT Prime, sold salt-aged steaks and miniatures, The iron Throne-ian Hanging Bacon Racks (this was the only restaurant President Trump visited during his tenure in DC). His swanky Benjamin bar served 140 spoonfuls of wine. Also: a $169 cocktail — DC’s most expensive at the time, though the Hungarian wine-based cobbler actually didn’t contain any liquor (Trump: pioneering the low-ABV trend?). And let’s not forget “Cheese Night,” an extravagant buffet that even the coronavirus couldn’t kill.

That said, not all forays into luxury living have been successful. Let’s not forget the time a guest sued the hotel after a flying glass shard during a champagne sabering ceremony resulted in a trip to the hospital (and $350,000 in damages).

A lover of animals

“America’s Living Room” welcomed the whole nature of beasts. Dogs. Unhappy birds that got stuck in the walls. The guy from MyPillow.

A model brother figure

Trump supporters flock to Harry's Bar on November 13.  Photograph by Evy Mages.
Trump supporters flock to Harry’s Bar on November 13. Photograph by Evy Mages

The hotel became known as a lavish swamp where Trump loyalists like Stephen Miller and Rudy Giuliani could mingle with lobbyists and visiting diplomats hoping to curry favor with the administration. But what about the younger, more scrappy MAGA crowd whose stage was more a ball of fire than a good spoonful of wine? Well, instead of shelling out for Benjamin Bar’s cheapest cocktail ($24), they’ve taken over the 78-year-old Harry’s Bar at the nearby Harrington Hotel. It was a perfect fit, like a Trump-cute encounter: A group of white people with no regard for Covid safety and an apparent fondness for the Jim Crow era meet a bar run by a group of white people with no regard for the safety of covid who is from the Jim Crow era! Don’t worry, only four people were stabbed.

A forever friend

You know what they say: if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Or, if you’re a hotel, an extremely loyal manager. For Trump International DC, that master key was Mickael Damelincourt, a man whose swagger in the lobby trumped the concierge at home alone 2 and whose allegiance proved to be stronger than a January 6 “protester”. When the hotel needed a little pick-me-up, Damelincourt was there with the hashtags (#success #neversettle) and goofy TikToks. When the closing of the property was imminent, he provided longevity insurance (#success #neversettle). And, most important, he was there until the bitter end.

food editor

Anna Spiegel covers the restaurant and bar scene in her native DC. Before joining Washingtonian in 2010, she completed the MFA program at the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in New York and St. John, in the US Virgin Islands.

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