Websites for the George Washington University Inn, Avenue Suites Georgetown and One Washington Circle Hotel were among the hotels that displayed the photo. A spokeswoman for parent company Modus Hotels said the selection of the photo was an accident.
“The image was a result of human error when creating this new page. … Their website company was recently moving pages around and pulled the wrong photo for government pages,” according to an emailed statement.
Modus said it pulled the images after being contacted by The Washington Post.
The image of Madison, it turns out, is a stock photo by Rudolf Balasko, a frequent documenter of vivid landscapes from Milwaukee to Hong Kong available for license.
Whether the error was the result of Wisconsin capitol building’s resemblance to the U.S. Capitol or bad metadata, the cause wasn’t clear. A spokesman for iStock, a company that licenses Balasko’s image and many, many others to numerous publications, including The Post, pointed out that the image was correctly labeled within the iStock database.
Modus was not the only company seduced by Balasko’s work. A Holiday Inn in Hyattsville also used the Madison photo, as did the Navy Yard Hampton Inn and Suites, as an eagle-eyed Redditor pointed out.
“We’ve been in touch with the hotel and they are in the process of changing the photo on their local property website,” Ada Hatzios, a spokeswoman for IHG, the parent company for the Holiday Inn, said in an email. “The Holiday Inn Express Washington DC — BW Parkway is an independently owned and operated hotel.”
Hilton, the parent company of the Hampton Inn, did not respond to requests for comment.
Visitors to the District (and Madison) take note: D.C.’s got dibs. The first version of the U.S. Capitol building was completed in 1800, while the first version of Wisconsin’s current capitol building wasn’t completed until 1917.