Trump’s former D.C. hotel — once a monument to MAGA — has forgotten its namesake
Inside the atrium of the former Trump International Hotel D.C., now a Waldorf Astoria. Matt Laslo/Raw Story

WASHINGTON – During Donald Trump’s one-term presidency, his namesake hotel, five blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, endlessly hummed with political wheeling and personal dealing.

It served as the unofficial clubhouse for the First Family, Republican lawmakers, lobbyists, foreign dignitaries, monied donors and future convicts — from Roger Stone to Paul Manafort. This was the place to down a $100 cocktail, book a $3,600 room or pregame for an insurrection.

But Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020. The following year, the Trump Organization sold the rights to his once-prized MAGA monument. By 2022, Trump International Hotel DC became a Waldorf Astoria. The nation’s capital is a town that rewards winners. And on Tuesday, as a New York judge arraigned the 45th president of the United States on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, the scene in what was once Trump’s expansive, sun-soaked hotel atrium, replete with its faux cherry blossom branches and four sunbeam-powered chandeliers, silently shrugged.


As Trump sits in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, preparing for a short drive to the courthouse and a million camera clicks, the few dozen people sprinkled about barely pay notice to any of the four flat screen televisions hovering over the ornate bar.

Three of these TVs are playing “The Price is Right.” Some eyes occasionally glance up to see overexcited contestants spin the big flashing wheel. “The Young and the Restless” flickers on next.

Fox News’ Trump coverage plays on the fourth flat screen. But no one is watching. The only other sign of Trump in his former hotel are two unflattering headlines emblazoned across the front of complimentary stacks of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The real estate developer-turned-politician, who’s running for president again, isn’t even mentioned on the iconic pink-tinged paper of the Financial Times.

The presidential ballroom is empty.

Newspapers in the former Trump International Hotel DC on April 4, 2023, the day of Donald Trump's arraignment on 34 felony charges. Matt Laslo/Raw Story

I order a vodka tonic and an ice water on this sunny, 70-degree spring day. My Serbian bartender — after eyeing my press pass and frantic scribbling on my tattered notepad — makes small talk.

“When’s Trump on?” he asks, looking over his shoulder at the screen I’m eyeing.

“Who knows.”

After watching a steady stream of mostly tourists coming and going, I ask if he’s noticed any changes from the hotel’s Trump International days when this was the mecca of making America great again.

The consummate service professional is strictly business.

“For me, everybody’s the same,” the bartender says. “You can be a governor or something, and I treat you the same. I don’t pay attention to [politics].”

And this hotel no longer pays attention to Trump.

As the former president is formally booked in Manhattan, one bartender slowly hand polishes water glasses. A manager leans on the expansive wood bar, catching up on texts or, maybe, playing a game. Neither ever bother looking up at the large man wearing a blue suit, red tie and scowl fit for someone about to plead “not guilty” before a judge.

The only person in the atrium wearing a mask is a mother rocking shorts and beige-green baseball cap that screams “TOURIST.” She pauses to snap a picture of the TV screen showing Trump and masses of American paparazzi. You can feel her daughter’s eyes roll as the girl looks up and then keeps walking. Mom quickly gets the message and scurries to catch up.

This space now feels like an oasis from politics, not the heart of it.

The soaring bar at the former Trump International Hotel DC. Matt Laslo/Raw Story

I pay up and catch a cab.

“What’s going on with Trump?” my cabbie asks upon learning I’m a reporter.

“TMZ Breaking News alert,” I say, answering by reading the first alert I see on my locked screen. “Donald Trump arrested in Stormy Daniels hush money case.”

“So he’s arrested?”

“You haven’t listened?”

“I was busy.”

“Not to pry too much,” I ask, “but what made you so busy it trumped Trump?”

“I was driving.”

Indeed, his radio’s off. Turns out this Ethiopian cab driver is a self-proclaimed evangelist.

“Are you saved? That’s the question. That’s the only question,” the cabbie says before getting a little theological with this former pastor-in-training. “Total depravity…”

“I know total depravity,” I joke.

“You need Jesus Christ,” he says, handing me a tract titled, “After Death, What?”

“I’ve actually heard about him from the former president. President Trump talked a lot about Jesus Christ.”

“There are people who use the name of God to do business, to do many things,” the cabbie preaches as Trump’s former hotel recedes in the rearview. “They are false prophets.”