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Trump DC hotel reopens as a Waldorf Astoria — but be ready to pay up

June 02, 2022
4 min read
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The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., only closed last month, but the property reopened on Thursday as the Waldorf Astoria.

If you want to stay at Hilton’s newest Waldorf, it’s going to make quite a dent in your Hilton Honors points account.

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Given the quick turnaround, it's not likely the Hilton team (or owner CGI Merchant Group) did much to overhaul the luxury hotel. Photos provided in the announcement of the reopening show rooms with similar décor to how they appeared under Trump ownership.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

"We are proud to bring Waldorf Astoria’s commitment to personal service and unforgettable experiences to this iconic location – and look forward to sharing more information in the coming months about the exciting amenities and services that will be available at the hotel," a Hilton spokesperson told TPG.

How to book

Don’t expect a cheap stay at this grand hotel. For the first month of its opening, the now-Waldorf Astoria is well over $1,000 a night if you're paying cash, with the lowest rate starting at $1,095 for a nonrefundable Hilton Honors Discount rate. For points, it’s astronomical, and only “Premium Award Nights” seem to be available, with the lowest in June at 574,000 points per night.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hilton)

In August, we found the lowest award availability for the year at 464,000 points per night for a Deluxe king bed guestroom. That same night had a nonrefundable member cash rate of $884. That equals out to roughly 0.2 cents per point — significantly below our current valuation of 0.6 cents.

By way of comparison, you could head to the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which recently went through a massive makeover, for a “Standard Award Night” of just 120,000 per night. In fact, at the sky-high rates of the Waldorf Astoria in D.C., you could practically book an entire vacation there for what just a night or two would cost you on Rangali Island.

Hilton’s win

The conversion of the hotel is a major win for Hilton, as it gives the company a prime location for its ultra-luxury Waldorf brand. But the history of the property itself is mired in controversy.

The Trump Organization, which made a $100 million profit from the deal, faced scrutiny after lobbyists and foreign governments often booked rooms at the hotel in hopes of wooing the White House while the Trump Administration was in office. The property faced major performance losses during the pandemic, and the Trump Organization was exploring ways to offload the property for several years.

CGI Merchant Group’s reported $375 million takeover of the property is only an operational deal, as the property (formerly the Old Post Office) is owned by the U.S. General Services Administration. The GSA offered the building up as a long-term ground lease, and the Trump Organization beat out buyer groups involved with the likes of Marriott and Hilton for the lease rights in 2012.

The Trump Organization completed a $200 million renovation to the building and opened it as a hotel in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

The now-Waldorf Astoria DC features 263 guest rooms and suites, a 10,000-square-foot spa and is steps from the White House. One change made over the last month appears to involve adding Peacock Alley, a signature bar at Waldorf hotels.

If the rates seem high, perhaps it is just CGI Merchant trying to get a return on its investment: The $375 million deal means the price-per-room exceeded $1 million, which makes this one of the priciest hotel transactions in D.C. history.

Featured image by Scott Frances
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases