Stunning, historic hotels from every state and the stories behind them
The sheen on the banister of a century-old mahogany staircase. The patina on a weathered copper gutter. A muted reflection in a slightly silvered mirror. Historic hotels have a unique charm that can’t be reproduced by slick replicas or new construction. Thanks to an increase in tourism brought about by a booming economy and the introduction of railroad lines crisscrossing the country, America’s Gilded Age ushered in a new age in hospitality. Influenced by the grand hotels of Europe, luxury edifices in a variety of architectural styles—Beaux-Arts, Renaissance Revival, Shingle Style, Spanish Colonial—sprung up coast-to-coast. Construction continued through the Jazz Age, fizzling only after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Post-WWII, many of the nation’s most opulent hotels found themselves crippled by financial downturns and costly, aging infrastructures. Many were shuttered and left to decay. Others took on new identities as office buildings, their interiors radically altered. In the wake of mid-century modernism, however, a new appreciation for historic architecture began to emerge. By the 1980s, Grand Dame hotels that had long been neglected were once again in vogue, the beneficiaries of deep pockets and comprehensive restoration programs—a trend that continues to this day.
Thanks to this movement, many of America’s historic hotels are listed on the National Register for Historic Preservation and are also members of the Historic Hotels of America Program—a collection of more than 260 hotels committed to preserving their architectural and aesthetic roots. Backed by both individual investors and large corporations, these national treasures continue to serve a new generation of discerning tourists.
Stacker trawled through travel websites and consulted preservation resources to compile this slideshow of stunning, historic hotels in every state. Each hotel on Stacker’s list is at least 50 years old and has a unique story behind it. Scroll through the list to find out which hotels are purported to be haunted, served the country during times of war, and ushered in a national dance craze.
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Alabama: Tutwiler Hotel
- Location: Birmingham
- Year built: 1914
The Tutwiler Hotel has served the city of Birmingham for over a century. Constructed in 1914, it was named for benefactor Major Tutwiler of Tutwiler Coal and Coke and had the distinction of hosting both Tallulah Bankhead and Charles Lindbergh. The original structure was razed in the 1970s and replaced by a bank. In 1986, the hotel re-opened in the former Ridgely Apartments and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Alaska: Inn at Creek Street
- Location: Ketchikan
- Year built: 1924
The Creek Street Inn is a collection of early 20th-century wood-frame structures painted in an array of vibrant colors. While the buildings are charming enough, the main attraction is the stunning view of Thomas Basin Harbor. A former red-light district, the Creek Street Historic District now caters to the bustling tourist trade.
Arizona: Weatherford Hotel
- Location: Flagstaff
- Year built: 1897
Built by Texas native John W. Weatherford, this elegant hotel was frequented by celebrated artist Thomas Moran and publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Author Zane Gray also wrote his acclaimed novel “The Call of the Canyon” on the premises. Like many turn-of-the-20th-century gems, the Weatherford drifted into disrepair but was saved from demolition by current owner Henry Taylor in 1975. Those wishing to ring in the New Year at the Weatherford and witness the hotel’s famous Pinecone Drop should make reservations well in advance.
Arkansas: Crescent Hotel
- Location: Eureka Springs
- Year built: 1886
Heralded by the Eureka Springs Times as “America’s most luxurious hotel" when it opened in 1886, The Crescent catered to wealthy patrons drawn to the city by its natural springs. The project was financed by a collective of savvy railroad barons eager to ferry tourists via train to the popular vacation spot. Today, the Crescent is popularly known as one of the country’s “Most Haunted Hotels,” cashing in on its reputation with ghost tours and paranormal packages.
California: Hotel del Coronado
- Location: Coronado
- Year built: 1888
Affectionately known as “the Del,” California’s iconic beachfront hotel was constructed during the San Diego land boom at the close of the 19th century. A playground for the rich and famous, notable guests have included Britain’s Edward VIII, Charlie Chaplin, and U.S. Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Jimmy Carter. The sprawling Victorian resort has been featured in several films, including the classic 1958 screwball comedy “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.
Colorado: The Stanley Hotel
- Location: Estes Park
- Year built: 1909
After being diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley, inventor of the Stanley Steam Engine, headed west to recover from his illness in the cool mountain air. Stanley was so impressed with the wilds of Colorado he built the eponymous resort for his wealthy East Coast peers—reserving the entire top floor for their children (and nannies). In 1974, author Stephen King visited the hotel—rumored to be haunted—and was inspired to pen “The Shining.” The Stanley stood in for the Overlook Hotel in the 1980 screen adaptation.
Connecticut: The Spa at Norwich Inn
- Location: Norwich
- Year built: 1929
The charming Norwich Inn opened its doors in 1929. It flourished despite the Stock Market Crash, attracting East Coast elites such as George Bernard Shaw and Frank Sinatra. After WWII, the Inn fell out of favor with the rich and famous and was converted to a boarding house and local jail. The Edward Safdie Group resurrected the Georgian Revival structure in the 1980s, adding state-of-the-art spa facilities. In 1994, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation acquired the Inn and made it a popular destination for well-heeled city dwellers.
Delaware: Hotel Du Pont
- Location: Wilmington
- Year built: 1913
One of America’s most spectacular icons of the Gilded Age, the Du Pont boasts carved woodwork, terrazzo floors, and gilded chandeliers created by the finest European craftsmen. Prince Rainier of Monaco, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Prince Bertil of Sweden, John F. Kennedy, and Eleanor Roosevelt have all availed themselves of the 12-story, Renaissance Revival hotel’s hospitality. In 2018, the Buccini/Pollin Group completed $400,000 of an ongoing multi-million dollar renovation, updating the lobby and the celebrated Green Room bar.
Florida: Biltmore Hotel
- Location: Coral Gables
- Year built: 1926
Americans had already fallen in love with Florida’s stretches of white, sandy beaches when the land developer George E. Merrick and hotel tycoon John McEntee Bowman threw open the doors to their Mediterranean-inspired masterpiece. On 150 pristine, tropical acres, the Biltmore attracted the international jet-set, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby. Johnny Weissmuller, better known as Hollywood’s “Tarzan,” served as the hotel’s swimming instructor before his rise to fame and fortune. During WWII, the hotel doubled as a military hospital, then, after a period of decline, served as both a campus for the University of Miami School of Medicine and a VA hospital. In 1992, Florida’s Seaway Hotels Corporation acquired the hotel, restoring the Jazz Age gem to its original glory.
Georgia: The Marshall House Hotel
- Location: Savannah
- Year built: 1851
If you’re in the market for some genuine southern hospitality, check in to The Marshall House—one of Georgia’s oldest hotels. Founded by Mary Marshall, it functioned as a hospital both during the Civil War and during later yellow fever outbreaks. By the middle of the 20th century, the hotel lapsed into disrepair and was shuttered in 1957. After an extensive renovation that preserved much of the original structure’s period charm, The Marshall re-opened to rave reviews in 1999.2018 All rights reserved.