America's Best Historic Hotels

Algonquin HotelAmazing architecture, a unique setting, and close ties to famous figures from the past are only a few reasons why so many people seek out historic hotels whenever they travel. Forget the beige carpet and mass-produced art on the walls—these buildings have as much personality and character as the guests who have filled their rooms for decades or more.

The Algonquin Hotel (New York) - Opened in 1902, The Algonquin hosted numerous celebrities in its early years including Douglas Fairbanks, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker, and William Faulkner. Just minutes from Times Square, the hotel provides a restful retreat from New York’s hustle and bustle despite its prime location. An extensive renovation in 2004 brought in modern advancements such as high-speed Internet and plasma screen TVs, but the Algonquin’s classic elegance remains untouched.

Black Point Inn (Maine) - Ever since 1878, the Black Point Inn has been charming visitors with its cozy antique-filled rooms and old world sophistication. Each guest room is uniquely decorated, offering themes such as the Music Room, the Library, and the Sun Porch. Guests are invited to warm themselves by the fire in the lobby, play a game of chess in comfortable armchairs overlooking the ocean, or wander the same ruggedly beautiful grounds that inspired painter Winslow Homer when he was a guest.

Hotel Jerome (Colorado) - Nestled among the snowy mountains of Aspen, the Hotel Jerome provides a luxurious base for exploring one of America’s most fashionable ski resorts. Built in 1889, the hotel has hosted a countless stream of celebrities who come to Aspen for its boutiques, restaurants, and famous ski runs. A new restaurant, spa, and updated guest rooms are just a few of the renovations now in the works. The hotel will reopen in December 2012, just in time for ski season.

Casa Marina (Florida) - The timing of the Casa Marina’s opening couldn’t have been better; it was 1924 and Jacksonville Beach was the trendy new hot spot on the Florida coast, drawing US Presidents, British royalty, and celebrities as diverse as John D. Rockefeller and Al Capone. Rumor has it that everyone who was anyone chose the Casa Marina for their lodgings, lured by its romantic Spanish-Mediterranean charm. Even after a careful renovation, the hotel still reflects the mindset of The Roaring 20’s with its fun-loving spirit of casual elegance.

The Davenport Hotel (Washington) - It’s hard to believe such a lavish hotel was practically in ruins just 10 years ago. Originally opened in 1914, the popular Davenport was recently given a $38 million facelift and reopened in 2002 to thunderous applause. Its majestic ballrooms and grand lobby are like rooms lifted from a European castle, drawing modern-day tourists the same way the hotel attracted guests such as Clark Gable and Benny Goodman back in its glory years. The Davenport’s other claim to fame is that it was the first hotel in the USA with air conditioning.

The Driskill (Texas) - Opened by cattle baron Jesse Driskill in 1886, this hotel is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture and Victorian design. The expansive lobby’s arched windows, marble floors and dazzling stained-glass dome give visitors an immediate taste of the luxury they can expect during their stay. Guest rooms offer all the plush amenities of a modern hotel while still retaining a classic Western feel. Thirteen unique suites, including the Cattle Baron Suite and the Yellow Rose Bridal Suite, take the Old West theme to even higher levels.

El Tovar (Arizona) - Stepping inside the lobby of the El Tovar, it’s easy to imagine that you’re back in 1905 when the hotel first opened its doors. The d├ęcor echoes the feel of a European hunting lodge with plenty of wood, stone, and animal heads adorning the walls. Guests such as Teddy Roosevelt and Albert Einstein were drawn to the El Tovar not only for its luxury accommodations but also for its location, perched right on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Hotel Del Coronado (California) - Some hotels attract celebrities, but the Del Coronado can actually claim to be a movie star itself. The Marilyn Monroe classic Some Like It Hot was filmed here in 1958 and the hotel has starred in other films as well. Since 1888, ten US Presidents, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, and many others have come to enjoy the Del Coronado’s stunning ocean views and Victorian charm.

The Jefferson Hotel (Virginia) - It’s hard to keep track of all the celebrities who have stayed at the Jefferson over the years, but they include 11 US Presidents, Sir Edmund Hillary, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and too many actors and actresses to name. Since 1895, the hotel has attracted the rich, the famous, and even the not-so-famous with its stunning architecture including a 36-step carpeted marble staircase similar to the one featured in Gone With the Wind.

River Street Inn (Georgia) - You might wonder why a hotel less than 30 years old made this list, but the River Street Inn’s history actually goes back much further than that. The building itself dates from 1817, when it was used as a cotton storage facility. Now the bridges, narrow alleys, and other architectural quirks that gave the cotton graders access to their wares add a unique touch to an already fascinating building. The view of the nearby Savannah River adds even more charm.



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