Was Manhattan’s Trump Hotel Built For Masters Of The Universe?


In my recent trip to New York, I stayed at the Trump Hotel.

I almost feel I could leave it at that. The name Trump is so culturally fraught. But let’s dive in. This is the story of one man, one brand, and the eponymous hotel.

You arrive at night. Throw your stuff on a chair. My stuff included a durable Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis, the ultimate Sturdy Bag, as well as a Bompard scarf.

Yes, that’s a chandelier. Proof.

Look out the window. Columbus Circle is gearing up for Christmas.

Take the measure of your rooms, for they are plural. The bedroom. Assume the mirrored closet door is a clue. You’re right. Who would want to lie in bed faced with a full-length mirrored view of themselves? Masters of the Universe, that’s who.

Throw open the doors to a small bath. Which struck me as rather Marriott-like, all marbled-up. I guess Masters of the Universe don’t spend a lot of time washing?

All amenities branded Trump. Another clue. Most fancy hotels partner with a company like L’Occitane, Fresh, or Bulgari for their shampoos et. alia. Not Trump..

The towels were shelved so high that I pulled one out of its stack only to knock another right into the full tub. Oops.

Wait. What’s this? A kitchen? A trophy kitchen, to be precise.

Larger than most New York apartments. Certainly sleeker. I availed myself of the convenience and went to Whole Foods across the street to buy my dinner the first night. The shiniest Whole Foods I’ve ever seen. I guess you can buy a Le Creuset stockpot and escalator down for just the right Walla Walla onions?

I imagine in Trump’s world the kitchen gets used by, well, someone else.

The entire space is like the bow of the Titanic. You are Jack, shouting, “I’m the King of the World!”

With the sheer curtains closed, some mystery remains.

But open up, and reflective surfaces celebrate your achievement.

Wake up for sunrise, the hotel tells you. The early bird catches a very shiny worm.

You guys, there’s nowhere quite like Manhattan. The sky’s the literal limit.

And, apparently, no one quite like the Donald. Although I don’t agree with his politics, I confess I’ve enjoyed his persona ever since the first Apprentice. He’s the Don King of business. The time-honored American tradition of the barker on the boardwalk, the fast talker, the salesguy. “Come on in!”

Even so, I might not have wanted to have his head and shoulders watch me approach a bottle of water. Trump Ice, indeed. Small quibbles.

The jellyfish was allowed to float his own meaning, albeit encased in yet another reflective surface.

 

*Donald didn’t pay me for this. Just writing that sentence makes me laugh. I will also most point that my company didn’t fully fund my stay either. I wouldn’t be as extravagant with company funds as I am with my own.

36 Comments

  • 12/04/12
    6:55 am

    Reply

    FLT said...

    Ha! That’s actually a huge hotel room for NYC. My friend stayed in The Pierre recently and it was much smaller–and no kitchen.

    I love that Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, although it totally stresses me out, because it’s always packed. It never fails to amaze me that people just cannot figure out the color-coded line set-up. (People who are 70+ get a pass, but everyone else…come on, people!)

  • 12/04/12
    6:57 am

    Reply

    That's Not My Age said...

    I do properly love New York and the Trump Hotel isn’t quite as hideous as I’d imagined. Though I’m not sure about Brand Trump – does his face appear on anything else?!

    12/04/12
    7:47 am
    Jan's Sushi Bar said...

    Hopefully the toilet paper. :)

  • 12/04/12
    7:23 am

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    kathy said...

    Not a fan of his, in any way. Don’t like kitchens in my hotel room either, as one of the great pleasures of staying in a hotel is room service, for me anyway.
    Was the conference at that hotel? Curious why you stayed there. It’s very much not “you”.

    12/04/12
    7:36 am
    Lisa said...

    The conference was right across the street. I stayed at The Trump because a) it was less expensive than the Mandarin Oriental b) TripAdvisor loves it c) The Empire Hotel is apparently decorated in blue and brown which makes me sad d) ornery curiosity e) deep devotion to my readers and a desire to provide you all with entertainment:).

    12/04/12
    8:15 am
    kathy said...

    All excellent reasons.

  • 12/04/12
    7:24 am

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    I’m pleasantly surprised, I didn’t think it would be so nice. Maybe it’s just the chandelier.
    That room is huge! We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria and the rooms were quite small, and the wc was indeed a water closet.
    Love your LV bag.

    12/04/12
    7:35 am
    kathy said...

    But full of history and charm.

  • 12/04/12
    7:26 am

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    lauren said...

    ah, my (work-) local whole foods – i head down that escalator for organic cat food once a week. i echo kathy in being surprised you supported trump, and had the same question: was the conference there?

  • 12/04/12
    7:43 am

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    Jan's Sushi Bar said...

    Since Beloved only books extended-stay suites with kitchens when he travels these days (he can no longer abide eating at restaurants for days and days on end), I’m curious about the quality of the cookware supplied by the hotel. It tends to be poor (and scanty), but that kitchen looks far nicer than any he’s booked, outside of the Staybridge in Vegas.

  • 12/04/12
    7:51 am

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    nikki said...

    that certainly is a big hotel room for manhattan — for a weekend getaway we stayed in the empire years ago when my son was a baby and the room was so small the only place for his pack ‘n play was in the space between the beds and the bathroom – with the bathroom door open! and nyc does have the shiniest whole foods stores. and now i miss new york…

  • 12/04/12
    8:01 am

    Reply

    Cécile said...

    Loved this post!!!!!!! LOL!! His picture on the water bottle!! Yes, I know.. I love Bulgari soap in the bathroom, but even RC has reserved those for the suites… Delicious… Great experience, though. Righ in the center of Manhattan!

    BTW Happy Holidays my dear friend!!

    Cécile

    12/07/12
    6:34 am
    Lisa said...

    Happy holidays!

  • 12/04/12
    8:09 am

    Reply

    mette said...

    No complaints about the hotel room having seen the pictures. Surely you could have had room service, if wished?

    12/07/12
    6:34 am
    Lisa said...

    I could. And did:)

  • 12/04/12
    8:14 am

    Reply

    Cécile said...

    Curiosity killed the cat. Maybe my life will be spared… did you get your Bompard here? Or did you get it abroad?

    Cécile

    12/07/12
    6:35 am
    Lisa said...

    I ordered it from their website! During their sale, shipping is free. And there were no customs issues, no delivered to a warehouse or have to sign problems. Super quick and easy.

  • 12/04/12
    8:17 am

    Reply

    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    I love the added touch of the fresh orchid. It looks comfortable enough and hotels being what they are I suppose it lived up to your expectations.
    I would not desire a full kitchen as I prefer to have room service…
    looks like it was central to your conference and being close and not needing the added stress of transportation is a bonus. Whole Foods well I go to one whenever we are nearby! Love that store!

  • 12/04/12
    8:32 am

    Reply

    Clio said...

    Trump will be turning my office building into a luxury DC hotel. I’m sad to be leaving the building, but I am so looking forward to a fawncy hotel night once it’s done.

  • 12/04/12
    8:49 am

    Reply

    Sandra said...

    Personally, I loved your photos. Loved the light on the buildings. You captured the sense of it all.

    I remember the first time I went to the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle. I was completely overwhelmed and stood there with my mouth open.

    I also had the best tuna fish sandwich at Thomas Keller’s casual restaurant. Can’t remember the name, but I still remember the sandwich to this day.

    12/04/12
    1:08 pm
    kathy said...

    Bouchon Bakery?

  • 12/04/12
    9:22 am

    Reply

    Susan Lucas said...

    Loved the post. Thanks for taking the time to let us be voyeurs. I could do without his mug on the water bottle.

  • 12/04/12
    9:39 am

    Reply

    déjà pseu said...

    You did a wonderful job with the photos, Lisa! Trump (like Leona Helmsley all those years ago), just irritates the shit out of me, and I’d have a tough time patronizing any business that’s such a stroke of that ego. The size of the room is darn impressive for a NY hotel.

    12/07/12
    6:36 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you. I felt like the photos just leaped into my camera of their own accord.

  • 12/04/12
    10:10 am

    Reply

    Poppy Buxom said...

    Well, well, well. Somehow I was expecting a room filled with mahogany furniture with red/gold/green accents, tassels on the curtains and Schumacher wallpaper–in short, something along the lines of the Home Alone house. (I could watch that movie just for its 80s interiors!) I guess mid-century/transitional and shades-of-beige have truly triumphed, if The Donald has them, too.

    Come to think of it, the Trump Tower in Chicago isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think it would be. Maybe my sense of Trump is as out of date as I thought his interiors would be.

    I join your readers in thinking the Trump hotel is Not You, but I confess to being even more surprised by the Louis Vuitton Monogram bag. Perhaps a post on designer labels is called for? It’s been a while since you wrote about your Louboutin pumps. (^^)

  • 12/04/12
    10:31 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    Except for the chandelier and water bottle the room looks really nice. So wonderfully located, too. Loved Jan’s tp comment. Love NY. Love your blog. I am such a Pollyanna today(for a change).

  • 12/04/12
    10:41 am

    Reply

    Sheryl said...

    Fancy hotels are my husband’s domain (he used to work in high end interior design) but oh does this post make me want to go spend a week somewhere fancy in New York.

    I always laugh at the hotel rooms with kitchens, but honestly, if you’re going to be there for more than a night or two it’s a nice touch to be able to make a meal or two at “home”. What really makes me laugh though are the phones in the toilet.

    12/07/12
    6:41 am
    Lisa said...

    The phones in the toilet! I know!

  • 12/04/12
    11:19 am

    Reply

    Faux Fuchsia said...

    love this post!!! Like the suite. Am old enough to remember the Marla Maples fiasco xxx

  • 12/04/12
    11:56 am

    Reply

    Dawn said...

    You’re so good to your readers! While I personally would have rationalized the Mandarin Oriental for purpose of blog fodder (was it really that much more? curious), you went with the more entertaining choice. And of course it lends nicely to Bonfire of the Vanities references, too. It does look very nice and way more tasteful than I would have expected. I don’t usually waste energy hating public figures, but Donald’s smug idiocy gets under my skin every time. Hate him, hate his hair.

  • 12/04/12
    1:13 pm

    Reply

    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    Lisa
    I know where I’m going to stay the next time I’m in New York.

    You did just what I plan to do on my first night… dine at Whole Foods!

    SSG xxx

  • 12/04/12
    1:15 pm

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    I love NYC in the early morning light. The way the sun lights up the city is magical.

    12/07/12
    6:41 am
    Lisa said...

    Oh so magical. Glorious.

  • 12/04/12
    3:34 pm

    Reply

    BigLittleWolf said...

    I have one word: WOW.

    Now I have a few more.

    I find it interesting that they traded off space in the bath (which most women would want) over the presence of a kitchen (which most women would want to stay out of if they’re away – on vacation or business).

    But wait… Masters of the Universe are not expected to be female!

    So perhaps the small / routine bath makes sense, and the kitchen is for your lackey to whip up cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

    I will say that when I’m away more than a day and a night, for business or vacation, I genuinely like having at least a mini-fridge and a microwave. A small kitchen would be divine.

    I frequently have digestive issues when I travel, I much prefer to eat light, small portions, and organic anyway. Even a few amenities allow for the freedom to do just that, which overall makes for a much easier / nicer and more affordable stay whatever the reason.

    (When I’m in Paris, one of the first things I do is hit the local épicerie and stock up on the healthy necessities for the mini-bar fridge.)

    Of course, Masters (and Mistresses) of the Universe travel with their Personal Chef. Affordability isn’t an issue, though I dare say I would prefer Deer Park or Evian over Trump Water…

  • 12/04/12
    3:49 pm

    Reply

    Marla said...

    Not a fan of his but I would happily stay in that room for a weekend. Very nice.

  • 12/04/12
    5:44 pm

    Reply

    Mags said...

    That’s why we call it the Big Apple. The big, shiney, red, completely sinful Red Apple. Yeah, like the one Adam fell for. That one.

    12/07/12
    6:42 am
    Lisa said...

    I had never made the connection. But I agree.

  • 12/04/12
    6:37 pm

    Reply

    Candace said...

    Loved the room, not so much the water bottles. Towel racks over the toilet in any hotel drive me nuts! How did you sleep in the bed? Whole Foods is the greatest – I really like their breakfast buffet. Your views were incredible! Thank you for sharing your stay with us!

  • 12/04/12
    6:45 pm

    Reply

    Anon said...

    Your writing (and especially the photos) make me wish I was in Manhattan right now. It is even more magical at Christmas.

    I’ve been to the Whole Foods you mentioned a number of times. I think the Williams-Sonoma is the second largest in the country.

    I usually stay at the NYAC on Central Park South when I am in the city. It is almost midway between Columbus Circle and the Plaza. NYAC has reciprocal privileges with quite a number of clubs, so you may want to explore the possibility. It’s not as posh as The Trump, butI find the rates to be more reasonable than the better hotels, and it’s a great location for most things.

    12/07/12
    6:42 am
    Lisa said...

    Wouldn’t it be fun to be paid to stay in every single hotel in Manhattan and write about it? Anyone? Anyone?

  • 12/05/12
    4:07 pm

    Reply

    Miss Cavendish said...

    Ahh, who knew that the mere mention of a LV bag could make me wistful. My LV Musette was stolen last week, by a sticky-fingered teenage ballerina while I was volunteering at The Nutcracker. Bad form. (And I haven’t gotten it back.)

    I remember being impressed with Mr. Trump’s command of the oral paragraph during one of the few times I watched him fire someone on TV. But he’s made himself into a laughing stock, so I can no longer listen to him.

    Anyhoo, looks like a lovely view–have been there a few times and navigated the Whole Foods myself.

    12/07/12
    6:43 am
    Lisa said...

    That is horrible that someone stole your bag.

  • 12/06/12
    11:34 am

    Reply

    Kcecelia said...

    When I was in my 20s, recently out of Cal with a Modern Literature degree, and living on Chicago’s Gold Coast with a Master of the Universe husband, we took periodic trips to Manhattan with a Town Car and driver trailing us, or transporting us from location to location. We stayed at the Carlyle, which I loved because the first time we stayed there I mentioned, as we were checking in, that I wanted to pick up the latest NYT Book Review cover book, which I remember had been reviewed by my beloved and elusive Thomas Pynchon, and they immediately sent a clerk out to buy it for me. The Carlyle bathrooms were, I think, relatively small, but I loved the location. The then-new Trump Tower is a vivid memory from those days. (I just looked it up: it opened 11.30.83.) A friend, whose husband’s travels often put us in Manhattan at the same time, and I ventured to the Trump. I was in entertained awe of what I remember as its gold-toned (everything seemed to be gold-toned), over-the-top tackiness, and its great views from a bar or cafe where we had a drink. But, I found your pictures both an amusing representation of Trump’s outsize ego, and a surprising representation of a room that was not nearly as unlivable as I’d imagined a Trump room to be. Thanks for staying there and sharing the experience with us. The Trump would still not be my hotel of choice, but I enjoyed your tour.

  • 12/06/12
    12:16 pm

    Reply

    Marcela said...

    The room looks comfortable and I like having a kitchen in my room when travelling . I tire easily of room service and eating out (ah, crazy me, I know) I haven’t been to NYC in 12 years but I still remember all the gold at the Plaza during Trump’s times… His picture in the water bottle is funny in a “No, he didn’t!” kind of way.

  • 12/06/12
    2:36 pm

    Reply

    Kate said...

    I would love to stay at this hotel! As I travel from Melbourne Australia, I often stay in a city like New York for a couple of weeks, and the addition of a kitchen would be extremely welcome. Of course I love eating out and love ordering room service, but it’s also nice to be able to eat meals in your hotel room and not pay a fortune for every meal. Also when travelling alone, you can tire of going out and eating every meal solo.

  • 12/10/12
    9:05 am

    Reply

    Staircase Witch said...

    That was amusing. And the room itself was surprisingly tasteful. I like functional kitchens in hotel rooms–assuming there is indeed a grocery nearby–because the hotel breakfast often leaves a great deal to be desired. And I get tired of eating out. When my husband was on sabbatical earlier this year and staying in an extended stay suite at one of the universities where he was visiting, I went to stay with him for a week and, although we sampled a few of the better restaurants, was happy to depend on the Trader Joe’s next door and make him some home-cooked meals. There comes a point where eating out ceases to be a novelty.

  • 12/12/12
    3:02 pm

    Reply

    Whitney Worthington said...

    I def would not want Donald on my bottled water! Yikes! But I do agree when you say, “You guys, there’s nowhere quite like Manhattan.” It is so, so true.

  • 12/17/12
    1:16 am

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    Marilyn@pinkmartinisandpearls.com said...

    I loved “our” trip to the big apple. :)

  • 12/20/12
    4:22 pm

    Reply

    Susan Partlan said...

    Excellent photos! I would never stay there, but it was fun taking a peek. When I saw the water bottle all I could think of is Oy Vey.

  • 12/22/12
    7:04 pm

    Reply

    duchessofh said...

    These photos bring back memories. I stayed at this hotel when my now husband took me to buy my engagement ring at Tiffany’s. It was the weekend of Princess Diana’s funeral, and I stayed awake, crying all night watching the news coverage.
    After seeing these photos, I’m now wondering if I subconsciously chose breccia oniciata marble for our bathroom. I never would have been able to recall what the bathroom looked like, let alone which marble was used.

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