15 Historic Hotels to Stay in On Your Next Trip

Sara Kern
December 22, 2022
15 Historic Hotels to Stay in On Your Next Trip

Have you ever stayed at a hotel that’s been around for centuries? If only the walls could talk.

The United States is full of these places: historic hotels that have weathered the bumpy ups and downs of time, kept their doors open and continued to welcome guests throughout the ages.

We couldn’t help but handpick a collection of the finest and share some of the coolest historic places and their stories here.

Table of Contents

1. The Palmer House: Chicago
2. The Broadmoor: Colorado Springs, CO
3. The Henley Park Hotel: Washington, DC
4. The Moana Surfrider: Waikiki Beach, HI
5. Bourbon Orleans Hotel: New Orleans
6. Hotel Du Pont: Wilmington, DE
7. Hotel Majestic: San Francisco
8. French Lick Springs Hotel: French Lick, IN
9. Hotel Brandwood: Glendale, CA
10. Jekyll Island Club Resort: Jekyll Island, GA
11. Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island, MI
12. Palace Hotel: San Francisco
13. Mohonk Mountain House: Hudson Valley, NY
14. The Fairmont Copley Plaza: Boston, MA
15. The Algonquin Hotel: New York City, NY
16. Traveling to a destination not listed?

1. The Palmer House: Chicago

The Palmer House (circa 1871) is America’s longest operating hotel. It was built by the developer Potter Palmer as an extravagant gift for his younger business partner-turned-lover, socialite Bertha Honoré Palmer.

Thirteen days after its grand opening, the Great Chicago Fire burned it to the ground.

Despite the setback the hotel was rebuilt, eventually becoming the birthplace of the very first chocolate brownie. It has also lodged the likes of:

  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Mark Twain
  • Charles Dickens
  • Oscar Wilde

It was one of the first hotels purchased by Conrad Hilton, and has been part of the Hilton Hotel brand since 1945.

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2. The Broadmoor: Colorado Springs, CO

This gem is located deep in the woods of the rugged Colorado wilderness. For over 100 years, people have been flocking here to decompress, experience a taste of the West and bask in a whole lot of luxury.

This hotel has seen dozens of famous guests and accommodated major international golf and winter-sporting events.

In 2003, then-president George W. Bush used the Broadmoor as a meeting place to confer with allies from seven countries and discuss the NATO alliance.

Hopefully, they enjoyed a round of golf or a spa visit and comfy hotel slippers afterward.

3. The Henley Park Hotel: Washington, DC

Originally built in 1918 to provide upscale housing for senators and congressmen, this example of Tudor Revivalism architecture was known then as Tudor Hall.

The building deteriorated over time, until new owners bought the building in the 1980s. They painstakingly restored it to its former grandeur, preserving the original architectural integrity as much as possible.

Look closely and you can still see the letters “T.H.” above the side door of the Wilkes Room — the building’s original common room, which still has its original fireplace and mantel.

Traveling for business and hoping to experience the grandeur yourself? Get the details — including discounted rates — here.

4. The Moana Surfrider: Waikiki Beach, HI

The Moana Surfrider was the first hotel to pop up in Waikiki, opening its doors in 1901. The Moana showcases the finest colonial architecture along Waikiki’s highly coveted beaches.

In 1901 the area was a swampy landscape of numerous ponds and bright green taro patches. It’s hard to picture today from its exquisite white sand beachfront location.

When business travel takes place in the hot summer, these hotel picks have cool pools.

5. Bourbon Orleans Hotel: New Orleans

Visiting NOLA? Book a stay at the historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel. Located in the French Quarter, the Bourbon Orleans boasts impeccable guest rooms, balcony rooms and suites.

Originally built as a theater, the hotel suffered setbacks due to arson and fire and was eventually sold to the Sisters of the Holy Family — the first African American religious order. The building was converted into a convent and an asylum for orphan girls.

As the Sisters of the Holy Family continued to grow, they soon needed more space and sold the property. It was purchased in 1964 and turned into a hotel.

According to the hotel’s website, a few historic guests still remain. Visit and you just might see a Confederate soldier, a ghost dancer, nuns, or children from the hotel’s previous lives.

Stay here on your next NOLA visit or business trip.

Bourbon Orleans Hotels

6. Hotel Du Pont: Wilmington, DE

The Hotel Du Pont opened its historic doors in 1913. Since then, guests have flocked to what was one of the few places at the time to rival European hotels for Italian Renaissance architecture, craftsmanship and elegance.

In 1991 the hotel underwent massive renovations, adding modern luxuries to the grandeur of bygone times.

Today’s guests get to experience the sophisticated yet warm environment, with little details here and there alluding to the past.

Over the years an impressive list of historic figures have stayed here, including Desmond Tutu, Amelia Earnhardt, Duke Ellington, Norman Rockwell, several kings, queens and politicians — and more.

Are you looking for an interesting hotel to host your next meeting or conference? Our article on hotel meeting packages might hold the keys to your next booking.

7. Hotel Majestic: San Francisco

Dating to 1902, this sprawling property originally served as the primary residence for the Schmitt family, who commissioned the build.

It was spared both the earthquake of 1906 and the raging fires that ensued after, which makes it the oldest and longest operating hotel in San Francisco history.

Rumor has it that the daughter of the original owners still haunts the fourth floor, drawing a bath from time to time.

The hotel has undergone restorations throughout the years, and still retains its polished luster with creamy walls, antique furniture and mahogany finishes.

Stay here on your next business trip and experience firsthand all this place has to offer.

8. French Lick Springs Hotel: French Lick, IN

Established in 1845 by Dr. William A. Bowles, the French Lick Springs Hotel originally drew guests who wanted to experience the “miracle waters” bubbling up from the nearby sulfur springs.

In 1901, after much of the original building had been destroyed by fire, local politician Thomas Taggart purchased the land and what remained of the buildings and built the hotel and resort as it stands today.

Due to his involvement with the Democratic Party, Taggart was appointed Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the resort was dubbed the unofficial headquarters of the Democratic Party.

After the Great Depression, the hotel entered a period of steady decline until 1991 when it underwent the necessary renovations to attract visitors once more.

Today, guests can bring their pets, and enjoy spa services, golf, bowling and even a casino.

9. Hotel Brandwood: Glendale, CA

Since 1924, this hotel has housed those traveling through the Los Angeles area, providing a good night’s rest with distinctive European flair.

It’s a charming testament to another era, with:

  • Polished wood
  • Gold finishes
  • Mid-sized sculptures

Besides its convenient location relative to the greater Los Angeles area, the hotel has a meeting room for business functions.

Traveling to the area? Find a great nightly rate now.

10. Jekyll Island Club Resort: Jekyll Island, GA

Towering majestically above the canopy of majestic oak, this resort — originally built in 1887 as a hunting retreat for the wealthy — offers modern day visitors the chance to experience the best, indoors and out.

It’s also been classified as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It was here that several prominent politicians gathered to draft the Federal Reserve Act in the early 1900s.

The property fell on hard times during the Depression and was abandoned during WWII when much of the male staff left to join the military.

In 1986, the building was restored so guests could once again experience this unique coastal property on one of Georgia’s barrier islands.

11. Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island, MI

For those looking to be transported to another time, the Grand Hotel is the place. There’s literally a movie about it.

Since 1887, this charming elegant Victorian era hotel has been idyllic for relaxing and unwinding in style. Many notable guests have passed through the doors and enjoyed the views from the 600-foot-long porch.

Frequented by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain, it was designed and constructed at the height of the Gilded Age, deriving inspiration from Queen Ann-style architecture.

Today’s guests are treated to long-standing traditions such as croquet, afternoon tea and melodies from the hotel’s very own orchestra.

And, since Mackinac Island has prohibited the use of cars since 1901 — preferring horseback, bicycling and walking — many visitors choose to arrive to the hotel via horse-drawn carriage.

12. Palace Hotel: San Francisco

Opening in 1875, the Palace Hotel was San Francisco’s first luxury hotel. It was destroyed in a fire caused by the earthquake of 1906, and rebuilt again in 1909. President Warren G. Harding met his end in the presidential suite in 1923.

Today the hotel showcases an impressive art collection, and the kitchen was awarded the Top 25 Historic Hotels of America’s Most Unique Culinary Heritage and Culinary Traditions.

With glass-domed ceilings, the Garden Court is a stunning sight to behold with 72,000 individual pieces of glass and Austrian crystal chandeliers.

Palace hotel in San Francisco

13. Mohonk Mountain House: Hudson Valley, NY

Mohonk Mountain House, owned by generations of the Smiley family since 1869, sits above a peaceful glacial lake.

Designed by twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley as a place to renew mind, body and spirit, It’s attracted presidents, dignitaries and other household names over the years.

Albert Smiley organized and hosted the first Conference on International Arbitration here, the goal being to establish worldwide support for international arbitration and an international court to oversee the proposed treaties.

Guests who visit today enjoy breathtaking views, indoor and outdoor activities, relaxation and entertainment in an intentionally-curated mix of modern day and historic accommodations.

If you’re looking for a great place for a team retreat, try one of these 13 Ideas for a Successful Team Building Retreat.

14. The Fairmont Copley Plaza: Boston, MA

Debuting in 1912 as the “Copley Plaza Hotel,” this stunning building stuck out as Boston’s finest example of Renaissance Revival style architecture.

The hotel not only looked good, it felt good too. Taking full advantage of modern amenities of the time, this hotel was the first of its kind to incorporate air conditioning, and an early adopter of the credit card system.

The Fairmont Copley Plaza has housed celebrities, artists and politicians and in 1935 it was the spot for a dinner party celebrating Babe Ruth’s return to Boston.

It’s been associated with enough film and TV to be considered an A-list celebrity — if it were a person.

Even though skyscrapers now tower over the hotel, it still retains an imperial presence, and guests are treated to top-tier hotel services by friendly and helpful staff.

15. The Algonquin Hotel: New York City, NY

This Beaux-Arts style brick and limestone building built in 1902 holds the title of the longest operating hotel in New York history.

Originally intended to be apartments, the owner decided to switch it to a hotel due to its prime location.

In 1907 a man named Frank Case took over the location. His vision of turning the hotel into the center of New York’s theater and literary mecca came to life — attracting luminaries, journalists, authors, actors and publicists.

The Algonquin was also one of the first hotels of its time to allow accommodation to women who were traveling alone.

Guests today enjoy timeless style in a convenient location near Times Square.

Book it today on Hotel Engine and save.

Historic hotels America honorable mentions service bell

Traveling to a destination not listed?

Check out these honorable mentions:

If you liked this article, try Stories from America’s 15 Most Haunted Hotels


Staying in a historic hotel adds extra depth to your trip, whether it’s for business, pleasure or bleisure.
Looking for more?

HistoricHotels.org provides an excellent in-depth collection of all the historic hotels in America — and Hotel Engine is here to help you book one.

With over 700,000 properties, Hotel Engine’s free platform can help you find and book historic (and modern) lodging and save up to 60%. Join for free!

Article written by
Sara Kern

Sara Kern is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She worked as a writer in the tech and apparel industries for almost a decade before joining the HE family, but also has experience coordinating business travel for fast-moving nonprofits, so she knows firsthand how hard it can be. She joined Hotel Engine in 2022 and is excited to be a part of the movement to radically simplify trip management for everyone.

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