THE OBAMA HOTEL
If Obama Created a Hotel to Rival Trumps.....

During the very nascent (and seemingly unending) Trump presidency, one of the bigger points of debate in the public eye has been the presence of his hotel in Washington and the role it’s played during his tenure as Commander and Chief. Despite Trump’s claims to have fully financially divested from all of his businesses prior to his ascension to the Oval Office, he has yet to show any tax records or any financial evidence that proves he has averted the severe ethical issue of holding his office and running a personal business that would be positively impacted by it.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington has itself become a lightning rod for divisive politics in the city, drawing the ire of liberal protesters who regularly host demonstrations in front of the hotel as well as the admiration of many conservatives, with many young republicans and MAGA hat-clad tourists taking selfies in the lobby.

The hotel itself has always been considered in many ways, an extension of Trump – decadent grandeur reminiscent of the late 80’s, luxury aesthetics that are considered by many to be more garish than tastefully opulent, and all the trappings of a space attempting to give the impression of culture and class… but as if an 8th grader were making the attempt.

Overall, it embodies all of the things that you have come to hate (or for others, love) about Trump.

With that said, a fun mental exercise many in the DC hospitality industry have tossed around is if the tables were reversed and if it were a different president that had their own line of hotels, specifically Obama (since Trump loves comparing himself to his predecessor), how would it manifest itself? Where would it be located? What would it look like? What sort of amenities would they offer? Who would stay there?

Well it’s hard not to have fun thinking of an entire hotel guided by the vision of good ol’ Barry O himself, so we decided to give it a go ourselves.

The Location

If we had to guess, the first Obama hotel (and likely the flagship) would be located in Chicago. One of the more obvious reasons is that its Obama’s hometown – senator for Illinois with his offices being based out of Chicago. His affinity for this city is also reflected by his many victory speeches he’s given there after a major election. To any naysayers out there who would argue NYC or LA would be a better locale for the former president to establish a hotel, Chicago actually experiences its own fair share of travel and tourism that’s on par with other major cities in the United States. Despite its depressingly cold winters, the city is a hub of culture and vibrancy which draws in big transient business every year.

Over the decades Chicago has been on the forefront of the performing arts and music (one could argue it was the major inspiration for ‘old Kanye’ West before he was tainted by fame), and its location to Lake Michigan makes it a popular beach destination during the summer – a luxury few major cities get to have. Chicago also boasts one of the most robust food and restaurant scenes in the country, with several of its hotels racking up Michelin stars and producing dishes that stack up to world-class establishments you would find in LA or New York City.

Another fun reason we think the hotel would find a comfy home in the windy city is Donald Trump’s seeming antipathy towards Chicago (likely because of its significance to Obama) – he often refers to it as being the murder and crime mecca of the United States despite its crime rates being normal for its population size.

The Aesthetics

Barry O is a child of the 60’s and 70’s – we could totally see him creating a very unique building utilizing the visuals of the most iconic design scheme of his childhood, which is the brutalist architecture movement. I know It may sound awful at first (I’m sure images of the soviet bloc are what first come to mind) but there’s a beauty to the modern interpretation of this style of architecture, especially when it’s done right. For example, the Line Hotel in LA utilizes many facets of brutalist design but is consistently heralded as one of the more iconic and beautifully designed hotels of the west coast.

We could see Obama creating a hotel that’s composed of a lot of glass and concrete that provides beautiful clean lines to the outside and make it really stand out on the city landscape, but likely utilize more wood on the interiors to bring some color and warming temperatures into the space. This design perspective is pretty descriptive of the man himself – Obama had an uncanny ability to project a level of strength and vision to the outside world when giving a speech to the Senate chamber during State of the Union, but can totally open up with warmth and passion like when he started singing Al Green to a packed auditorium during a campaign rally.

Knowing Obama’s penchant for beige suits (I know I know, I’m jk…but real talk that suit was kind of terrible), we can totally see him decorating the interiors with a palette of beautiful earth tones with a lot of colorful rugs, pillows, and couches encapsulating the open and cozy aesthetic of 70’s design.

In terms of the interiors, Obama led the charge on what was a counter-culture movement in the US – we figure he would keep to this spirit in the space with decorations that capture powerful moments in the social progressive movements of the 60’s & 70’s. Imagine a lot of décor mentioning the progress and growth of minorities in the US with an emphasis on the storied history of Chicago. Think portraits of gender equality marches of the 60’s in tandem with equality marches that have been held in the past year, literature about exploring the boundaries of human experience (Stranger in a Strange Land, Siddhartha, etc.), and furniture that’s more Eames inspired and follows the aesthetic of the Bauhaus movement.

With regards to uniforms, we think Obama Hotel employees would wear fashion reminiscent of counter culture movements couture from the 60’s – we’re thinking MOD jackets/suits for the guys and ladies wearing loose, Twiggy-esque dresses.

The Amenities

This was a fun category to think about because there are a lot of interesting things #45 would probably pack his hotel with. I mean, beyond the obvious things you would find in any lifestyle-ish hotel, we would imagine that #44 would add his own personal flourishes to the space to really make it feel like his own.

Event programming would obviously big for Obama - we would imagine him having rotating speaking events that happen in the lobby that cover a variety of topics such as ethics, civic rights and responsibilities, and the history and/or future of the U.S. He would also offer the hotel as a resource for the local Chicago community – offering meeting room space hosting neighborhood meetings, or providing event space for tech workshops focused on the youth of the city. Classic Obama. He would also probably open up with his fun side, inviting musicians and artists that are big fans of his like Kendrick Lamar (also Obama’s favorite rapper) to do small acoustic sets in the lobby.

Food-wise, Obama was apparently super particular about what he ate on the campaign trail and in the White House – according to his former staffer Reggie Love, the former President never ate ‘…gum wrapped in tiny papers…energy bars with fruits…salads only in emergencies…nothing battered or fried.” Obama was religious about his eating habits, and threw plenty of shade at his staff when they would order Wendy’s or McDonalds – so we can imagine he would be just as salty about what went on the menu in his hotel. We’re thinking traditional soul-food dishes which give tribute to his Chicago roots with modern flourishes that err on the side of healthy with every dish being more vegetable focused than piling heaping mounds of meat.

Beyond catering to the normal public image we have of Obama, we can also see him doing funny things that nod to his own tendencies, like having a secret smoking area behind the hotel that only offers Marlboros (his favorite)– a nasty habit he supposedly quit when he became president but rumors circulated he still sneaks in a few cigarettes in secret. We can also imagine Barry having a basketball court be mandatory at every one of his hotel gyms – considering his fondness for shooting hoops, and his proclivity to dropping in on local courts to play pick-up games.

The Guest

Considering the type of people we saw rally to his side during his presidency, I get the feeling the typical guest profile would be fairly obvious – probably on the more progressive side, likely liberal, and a person who consumes a lot of culture & the arts (basically all the cool kids).

Expect a lot of celebrities, actors, singers, musicians, and artists booking a spot in the hotel with a flourish of famous activists and politicians.

Also considering the variety of people we saw vote for Obama on the campaign trail during both elections, we would imagine the spectrum and demographic of guests would be quite broad – everything from a retired couple in Oklahoma who wanted to see the first presidential hotel with their own eyes to the recent graduate millennial who popped their head in for a quick drink and selfie in the lobby.

The Obama Hotel

So what can we say really about the Obama Hotel that’s beyond pure conjecture? For certain, we can emphatically say it ain’t gonna be a fucking Trump Hotel.

No gold, no glitz, no forced tacky luxury – the Obama Hotel (if it were to ever be) would manifest itself as the complete antithesis of the Trump Hotel.

Which makes this place all the more appealing – so if you’re reading this Obama…take the hint man, we could really use a hotel like this.
— BY CARL PIERRE
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