Sitting at a the long marble bar at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., a woman on a plush Royal blue bar stools shared a thought with her date.
“It’s really nice, despite the name on the building” she said.
That was not the reception that Donald Trump was aiming for when he announced the renovation of the old post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue back in 2014, a time when he was better known as a reality TV star and occasional Obama antagonist than the Republican presidential nominee.
Now that he’s seeking to move in down the street, Trump’s brand has taken a hit in this politically minded town. But even people who aren’t fans of his politics found some things to like in the upscale hotel.
On Monday, Trump’s Pennsylvania Avenue project—not to be confused with his quest to reside at America’s most famous residence—experienced a “soft open,” welcoming a slew of guests to its pricey, lavish digs without the pressure of a grand-opening celebration. The open was met with a spattering of protests of the candidate, but none that have stopped guests from settling into their decked out rooms.
For now, the happy hour menu offers a variety of toasts for $5. The selections seem decadent, with avocado, liver wurst (pickled onion radish and stoneground mustard), smoked trout, truffle ricotta, and eggplant “caviar” among what’s offered. The tater tots will run you $27, while the lower-priced “hipster fries”—piled high with shishito peppers, beef jerky and Parmesan—will set you back $16. And as Washingtonian magazine pointed out this week, you can get wine by the spoonful, if you’re into that sort of thing, starting at $15 per spoon.
Even among this high-priced menu, one item stands out: the “Trump Tower,” a cocktail featuring a pound of lobster, eight oysters, four shrimp and blue crab. It costs $120.
A collection of ornate chandeliers twinkled as early fall twilight set in through the vast open ceiling, making it easy to forget that the building was ever something other than a plush hotel. Sure, the beams that criss-cross the lobby have a slightly worn in look, paint worn in cracks and crevices. Sure there are hints of an old office building, with sheer drapes covering the old windows that used to open up the offices of postal workers. But the marble, elevators, and brass throughout the plush space has been restored to new levels of Trumpian grandeur. This is an entirely different space.
Plush chairs in various shades of blue are strategically placed around the vast foyer, replete with marble tables with golden, gilded accents. Inside individual rooms are decorated with black marble, gold accents, lush carpeting, and a bed made for royalty.
Overall, the hotel project fits neatly into the luxury brand that Trump has worked for years to make his name synonymous with, even if the $518-a-night hotel now clashes with the populist bent of his political campaign.