Food  |  News & Politics

5 Wild and Weird Moments From the Trump Hotel We’ll Never Forget


The hotel formerly known as Trump. photograph by Evy Mages

After years of rumor and speculation, it looks like the Trump hotel lease will actually soon be sold. The Wall Street Journal broke the news over the weekend that Miami-based investment firm CGI Merchant Group is under contract to take over the controversial property for $375 million and plans to remove the Trump name. It will officially be the end of an era for “America’s Living Room,” the gathering hub of right-wing power players, MAGA fans, and MyPillow Guy during the Trump years. Here’s a quick look back at five wild and weird moments you may or may not have forgotten all about:

That time the Trump Organization sued José Andrés

It seems strange to imagine now, but there was a time when a José Andrés restaurant was destined to be the showpiece of the Trump hotel. Then, of course, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President with those famous remarks about Mexican immigrants (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”). Andrés wasn’t having it and backed out of the deal, as did fellow celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The Trump company sued the chefs for $10 million each; they countersued. It was a hot mess that eventually settled, elevating Andrés’s political profile and setting the stage for the hotel’s toxic relationship to DC liberals.

That time a sabred Champagne bottle sent a guest to the hospital

A common spectacle at the Trump hotel lobby was the sabering of Champagne bottles. But in 2019, the newsletter 1100 Pennsylvania reported that a guest at the lobby bar sued the hotel for negligence after a shard of glass from a sabred bottle allegedly struck her in the face, leaving a gash on her chin. She began “bleeding profusely” and took an ambulance to Georgetown University Hospital, where she required several stitches, according to the lawsuit. She claimed the injury left a “large permanent scar on her chin despite several medical treatments” and asked for $350,000 in damages. The case was ultimately settled.

That time Stephen Miller had an Elvis impersonator at his hotel wedding

Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller wed Katie Waldman, then press secretary for Mike Pence, in a lavish February 2020 wedding in the Trump hotel ballroom. POTUS gave a toast, but the performance of the evening? An Elvis impersonator in a bedazzled white outfit who serenaded the couple as they danced. Apparently the actor also doubles as Michael Jackson.

That time poop emojis were projected on the hotel

So many protests were staged in front of the Trump hotel, it’s hard to keep track. Among the most memorable were the projections from DC artist Robin Bell. He broadcast more than 50 messages from “IMPEACH” to “ARREST THE PRESIDENT” against the front gates, but the image seared in our brains read “SHITHOLE”—with a flurry of poop emojis following the President’s use of the term to describe Haiti and African countries in 2018.

Every time Trump made ordering a Diet Coke really complicated

The hotel had a long list of guests who garnered special treatment—from congressmen to megachurch pastors—but Trump himself was the ultimate VIP. The hotel’s steakhouse kept a “Standard Operating Procedure” document, obtained by Washingtonian, outlining everything from the mini bottle of Purell hand sanitizer that should be “discretely presented” when he sat down to the array of snacks (Oreos, Nutter Butters) that should be on hand. But perhaps most wild of all were the instructions for pouring the then-President a Diet Coke, which involved seven steps and four photo illustrations.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.