I went to the Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday evening to do some investigating. The rates that night started at $2,400, well above the usual $400 to $700, and I wanted to find out why. Upon entering, I saw a big sign that read “Arrow Exterminators.” I confirmed that the exterminators were customers rather than contractors, and, with that assignment checked, settled in at the bar to see if any swamp people of note were still showing up with Trump out of power.
One $17 prosecco and no dignitaries later, I got up to leave, taking photos of the place to capture the scene. I then beat my usual exit path, walking the length of the lobby to people watch before heading to the restroom to wash my hands and snag a fresh tissue. Twenty seconds of scrubbing later, I was still in the restroom, texting, when the hotel’s director of security, Ernest Wojciech, opened the door, took a quick look around, and left.
Text sent, I exited the restroom and turned left to swing by the hotel ballroom before leaving. From several feet away, however, Wojciech beckoned, informing me that I was walking the wrong way. I did an about-face and, when I reached Wojciech, was notified that I was being told to leave.
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While escorting me out, Wojciech explained that the ejection was for taking photos without permission. Once outside, he told me the ban was permanent, then declined to elaborate. Higher-ups in the Trump Organization also didn’t feel like explaining. When Forbes reached out to ask whether one of its reporters had, in fact, been banned from the hotel for life, a spokesperson did not respond.
The real reason they kicked me out probably wasn’t the photos though. For nearly five years, I’ve been reporting on the hotel, largely using social media to do things like track who was hanging out in the lobby (unsurprisingly, a lot of lobbyists) and who was using the hotel as an office (just Rudy Giuliani). I even started a newsletter, named 1100 Pennsylvania after the hotel’s address, to document the goings-on inside the building.
Some of my reporting may have been embarrassing to the hotel, as well as to the former president. And apparently the Trump Organization, which once offered me a complimentary glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne when I showed up to report on the hotel for Condé Nast Traveler, didn’t appreciate my coverage anymore. That might explain why the hotel’s director of marketing was standing by as the security guard escorted me out the front door.