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Feeling just capital in Trump's new pile

Press Association logoPress Association 27/06/2017 Susan Griffin

The sound of hundreds of people slowly chanting "shame, shame, shame" fills the air in a scene straight out of Game Of Thrones. Only the focus of this protest isn't the scheming Queen Cersei - it's Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

The hotel opened only in September, in the impressive former Old Post Office building, but its location - slap bang between Capitol Hill and the White House - makes it a popular place for President Trump protesters to congregate, as they wind along Pennsylvania Avenue.

I won't lie, it makes for a slightly awkward scenario when we return to the hotel from a morning of sightseeing.

One minute we're in the thick of the crowds, taking snaps and breathing in the atmosphere, the next we're having to scuttle past a man with a megaphone and a cartoon Trump head to gain access to our room.

A woman armed with a clipboard asks for our room number, and only then is a temporary barrier opened and apologies made "for the inconvenience".

Given the levels of anti-Trump feeling, I'd had visions of darting past angry crowds every time we stepped outside the hotel but this protest, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, is the only one we witness during our stay.

Likewise, we'd expected airport-style security on the door, but were met with nothing more than a smile and a cheery welcome from the staff.

That was not the only surprise. Given Trump's fondness for flamboyant decor, I was braced for Liberace levels of gold within the hotel's walls.

By some standards, the extravagant headboard, gold trimmings and chandeliers (even in the bathroom), might be a little too much to stomach, but the hotel's far from the palace of bling I'd expected.

The hangar-sized lobby, a nine-story atrium with a glass ceiling, has real wow factor. The mammoth flag of the United States, which dominates one wall, seems a little unnecessary, but the space feels intimate, with comfy seating beneath original steel arches, tinkling music and TV screens above the bar showing sport and rolling news.

The hotel's managing director, Mickael Damelincourt, credits Trump's sons for the relaxed feel. They've taken over the business while dad's otherwise engaged, and as fathers themselves, they understand people want to bring the kids along to high-end hotels and not feel on edge.

As for Trump senior, he might have handed over the reins, but he's been spotted dining in the hotel's mezzanine restaurant a couple of times. There was no sign of the man himself during our stay, or any protesters making a dash for it inside.

If you come here looking for drama, you'll be disappointed. This new Trump tower might just surprise you, whatever you think of the man behind the name.

- Rooms at Trump International Hotel start from around $A600.

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