It is quite normal for some people celebrating a life event at a posh hotel to get a little light headed, brides on their wedding day for example, but apparently staying at a hotel for any reason can make some guests a little light fingered. Search eBay with the name of any notable hotel and you will find everything from vintage ashtray collections (remember when you could smoke anywhere?) to fancy matchboxes. The Washington Marriott Wardman Park is no exception, and it would like its stuff back now please, but not for the reasons you might think.
This year the Wardman Park is marking its centenary with a competition for former guests to return memorabilia from the hotel, no questions asked, with a story about the stay that was so important the guest took a souvenir to remember it. The hotel intends to host a permanent exhibition of returned objects in the lobby, and it will reward the writer of the winning story with a two-night weekend stay in the Langston Hughes suite and 50,000 Marriott Rewards points. That is a much better return on a “borrowed” teaspoon or hand towel than you could make on eBay.
Stories must be submitted in print, and can commemorate a wedding, honeymoon, military leave, or any other event that took place at the hotel. The D.C. property has more than its share of interesting stories already: A glamorous British spy photographed secret documents in her room there in the 1930s, U.S. Marines trained in the pool during World War II, and the Wardman Park residences were home to the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Earl Warren, and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Langston Hughes suite is named for the famous poet because he was once a busboy at the hotel and was discovered there in 1925 when he shared some of his work with poet Vachel Lindsay.
Stories and objects can be dropped off in person or sent to: Washington Marriott Wardman Park c/o Marriott Wardman Park Amnesty, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington, D.C., 20008.