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What drew Trump to downtown L.A.'s towering InterContinental hotel?

Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- As an overcast day ended in the heart of "the resistance," President Trump's motorcade tucked into the 7th Street entrance of the Wilshire Grand skyscraper.

There was no grand entry, or at least I missed it, standing behind Secret Service agents awaiting his arrival. Still, the hotel inside -- the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown -- had all the charming excesses that our 45th president might desire.

The building's interior decorator told this to my colleague Thomas Curwen about his inspiration for the steakhouse: "We wanted French opulence and good taste to meet with a gritty California scene." That same spot -- La Boucherie -- has a bar in the shape of Marie Antoinette's slipper.

But as I set out to spend a night with Donald, I wanted to dig deeper. Trump isn't just the leader of the free world. He's a hotelier connoisseur -- infamous for dwelling over the smallest details at his properties.

So why, I wondered, of all the hotels in our fair city did he decide on this one? It was neither convenient nor a place he had stayed before. The president once wined and dined porn actress Stormy Daniels in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to Daniels. And, in choosing this fine establishment, he also exposed himself to a rush hour commute from Beverly Hills -- where he had been raising big bucks Tuesday evening. (Yes, this journey is made easier when streets can be closed on his account.)

In the 70th-floor lobby, I stared out the floor-to-ceiling windows alongside Paul Saxton -- a retired New Yorker who was tagging along on his wife's business trip. A dense fog gave way to an angelic sunset and a picturesque view of the Hollywood Sign.

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"It's the highest hotel on the West Coast," Saxton told me. "He must like that."

Later in the evening, as business executives mingled at the Lobby Lounge, where a burger costs $29, Giuseppe Van Oordt expressed a similar sentiment. The 32-year-old had only recently moved to downtown Los Angeles, and his friend had snuck him in that evening. He marveled at the vibrancy of the area and said Trump must have felt that energy as well.

"It's the tallest building," Van Oordt said as he sipped a $17 old-fashioned. "He's not going to stay at some second tallest building."

The 2,500-square-foot presidential suite sits on the 66th floor, and the "sweeping views of the Los Angeles skyline serve as the backdrop to a relaxing lounge complete with a piano," according to the hotel's website.


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