Despite risk of violence, Foggy Bottom hotels opt to remain open for Inauguration Day

Media Credit: Phebe Grosser | Staff Photographer

Several lodging services like Airbnb have opted to cancel reservations in the area altogether this week, while others, like The Hive, are accepting reservations.

At least seven hotels in Foggy Bottom have chosen to remain open this week despite concerns of a second riot by pro-Trump insurrectionists around Inauguration Day.

As the National Guard takes up D.C. streets and campus closes for the inauguration, hotels like Hotels Eaton DC and The Line DC announced plans to close, and Airbnb vowed to cancel D.C. reservations this week following guidance from city officials urging people to stay home. District residents are also trending #ShutDownDC on social media amid fears of potential violence on Inauguration Day.

“Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th presidential inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually,” DMV officials wrote in a joint statement.

But in Foggy Bottom, Hotel Hive DC, The Statesman, Courtyard by Marriott, The Watergate and several others are still accepting reservations. Representatives from those hotels did not return requests for comment.

Outside of Foggy Bottom, several hotels owned by larger corporations, like Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Hyatt, will also remain open this week.

Jessica Comley, the general manager of Residence Inn by Marriott in Foggy Bottom, which is open for business this week, said the hotel has taken steps to ensure that guests who have made reservations for this week are not arriving for politically-charged reasons, but she did not explain how the hotel has verified guests’ intent for traveling. She added that COVID-19 procedures like mask wearing would be enforced.

Representatives for Hotels Eaton DC and The Line DC, which are not in Foggy Bottom, said they announced their plans to close this week after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Sheldon Scott, the global head of purpose at Eaton DC hotel, said the risk of violence and spread of COVID-19 would have made operations potentially unsafe for guests and workers.

“With the threat of impending violence, and the mayor’s travel ban, as well as militarized approach to securing downtown, we just don’t think it’s safe [to remain open], mainly for our employees,” Scott said.

Eaton DC, which was also shut down during the riot on the Capitol, closed Friday and will reopen this upcoming Friday. Scott said he is confident the feedback the hotel will get for closing this week will be positive but if there is any negative feedback, that the hotel is “open to the discourse.”

“I’m sure that there’s some general public backlash in people who are not necessarily connected to our communities in that way,” Scott said. “But you can’t be a place that is focused on creating a platform for historically marginalized voices and undertold stories and create an opportunity for them to be further oppressed by another group.”

The Line DC, which was open during the initial Capitol riot, released a statement Thursday announcing its plans to close from Saturday to Wednesday.

But unlike Eaton DC, The Line DC is allowing a small group of existing reservations for people “well known” to the hotel, including “members of a non-profit relief organization who are long-term partners of the hotel, a small private event for D.C. locals that was previously scheduled…and a handful of other corporate clients of LINE DC” to stay, according to its statement.

The hotel wrote in the statement guests have been “thoroughly vetted” to ensure they aren’t connected to the Capitol riot or hate groups, but the statement did not specify how they were vetted.

One large company jumping on the bandwagon is Airbnb and its daughter company, HotelTonight.

The company released a statement Wednesday that it will cancel all reservations in the D.C. metro area through the week of the inauguration. Airbnb will refund guests who had made a reservation of that nature and reimburse the Airbnb hosts for the money they would have made, according to the statement.

The statement cited warnings of “various local, state and federal officials” calling Americans to steer clear of the Capitol as its main reason for canceling reservations. It also acknowledged “reports” of the presence of armed militias and known hate groups that are expected to cause violence in D.C. tomorrow.

Airbnb added that it has “identified” any active accounts of people who were associated with violence at the Capitol two weeks ago or are active members of hate groups through media and law enforcement sources and banned those people from using Airbnb or its affiliates.

“We are continuing our work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community,” Airbnb said in its statement.

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