As President Donald Trump has headed south, so has the see-and-be-seen nature of his Washington, D.C. hotel, once a hub for sightings of Trump family members and allies – and even the president himself.
On Thursday night, six tables of people were seated in the expansive Benjamin Bar and Lounge, while one table of guests – and later another – dined at the upstairs BLT Prime by David Burke, alongside DailyMail.com.
Gone were fixtures of the Trump hotel: no Rudy Giuliani, no cabinet secretaries, no Republican congressman, no White House aides, no Trump children or in-laws, and no chance of an encounter with the president and his entourage.
The property has the three-pronged problem of no more Trumps, COVID restrictions that had kept the restaurants closed for the past month – and signs that suggest business simply isn’t wanted.
A sign posted to fencing around the hotel’s main driveway reads: ‘Hotel Guests & Invitees Access Only’.
For those who try to venture inside the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, a guard pops out of a small shed at the edge of the driveway asking what business they have, even though reservations for BLT can be made on the popular OpenTable app.
Still, the staff tried their best.
THEN VS. NOW: Before now-former President Donald Trump left town, the Trump hotel’s lobby was the see-and-be-seen spot for family and allies in Washington, but now the lobby sits practically empty. Trump and his children are seen at the hotel’s grand opening in 2016
THEN VS. NOW: COVID restrictions had kept the restaurants closed for the past month and have also hampered business. At the Benjamin Bar, popular spectacles – like the opening of a champagne bottle with a sword – have been put on pause because it caused too much gathering, especially during the pandemic
THEN VS. NOW: On Thursday night, six tables of people were seated in the expansive Benjamin Bar and Lounge, while one table of guests – and later another – dined at the upstairs BLT Prime by David Burke, alongside DailyMail.com
THEN VS NOW: A group on Thursday was heard commiserating with staff about D.C.’s 10 p.m. cut-off for drinking alcohol, as a server had them chug their wine and then whisked the glasses off the table
A sign posted to fencing around the hotel’s main driveway reads: ‘Hotel Guests & Invitees Access Only’
One of the very few tables celebrated a birthday at the mostly empty BLT Prime restaurant Thursday night
‘Another dessert!’ squealed a woman seated at a table where a birthday was being celebrated.
Earlier a waiter had brought over a heaping plate of sweets adorned with a large sparkler for the affair.
At the end of the meal, tiny cake bites were also served.
Another group of four was heard commiserating with staff about D.C.’s 10 p.m. cut-off for drinking alcohol, as a server had them chug their wine and then whisked the glasses off the table.
Earlier the patrons were served some of the hotel’s trademark bacon, that is served on a clothesline.
At the Benjamin Bar, the popular sabering spectacle – opening a champagne bottle via sword – has been put on pause because it caused too much gathering, a no-no during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past, Donald Trump Jr. has shared videos of bubbly being popped.
During the Republican National Convention in August – and despite the COVID-19 pandemic – table seating in the Benjamin lobby bar was nearly filled and featured cameos by Don Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Trump hotel’s lobby was the see-and-be-seen spot for family and allies in Washington. Here Eric Trump (right) and his wife Lara (left) walk through in August
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was spotted in the lobby of President Trump’s hotel on August 27, 2020
Rep. Matt Gaetz held court with a young woman drinking wine in the Trump hotel lobby in D.C. during the week of the Republican National Convention
Marla Maples (left), the mother of Tiffany Trump, walks through the lobby the week of the RNC as Lara and Eric Trump (center right) hold court with Jackie Siegel (right), who was featured in the 2012 documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles’
Eric and Lara Trump also mingled with guests including the star of the documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles’ Jackie Siegel.
Marla Maples, the mother of Tiffany Trump, even made an appearance.
Rudy Giuliani was holed up near the back bar.
Republicans, of course, had held extracurricular activities – events and fundraisers – at the hotel throughout the week, which also brought in allies like Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Matt Gaetz, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
On Thursday night, nobody was a known Trump-world figure.
By 10 p.m., only a handful of people remained.
Harry’s Bar, which used to serve as an after-work spot for Trump hotel staff, but more recently became known as a Proud Boys hangout, was also closing down around 10.
A group of people – who were presumably well-served – stood outside chattering loudly, with their voices carrying to nearly a block away.