One of the best (or worst) parts of vacationing is deciding where to stay during your travels. Though there are thousands of hotels that are available in the United States, with many of them boasting a free continental breakfast, predictable rooms, and hotel points that may be associated with your stay if the property is part of a franchise, there are a number of historic gems that are scattered throughout the country. Places that boast such history not only provide a place to lay your head at night, but offer a step back in time, with beauty and comfort that often adds more to your holiday than you might have expected. Here are 8 historical hotels in America that we think are pretty great:
Hotel Del Coronado: Located on the beautiful beaches of Coronado Island across the bay from San Diego, CA, this wooden Victorian resort was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1888. Since then, it’s hosted 16 presidents and numerous dignitaries and celebrities. This was also the first electrically wired hotel and, in 1904, Thomas Edison visited to oversee the first electrically illuminated outdoor Christmas tree. Marilyn Monroe filmed Some Like it Hot here, Stephen King and L. Frank Baum have written here, it’s said to be haunted, and a weekend stay in the summer will cost roughly $545/night for an ocean view room.
The Ahwahnee: Tucked into the valley of majestic Yosemite National Park in northern California, the Ahwahnee hotel is a rustic beauty. Named after the Ahwahnechee Native American tribe that once resided within the Yosemite valley, this hotel opened in 1927. During World War II, it was used by the U.S. Navy as a hospital for war veterans and since then, has hosted guests like Walt Disney, Queen Elizabeth II, and Steve Jobs. The hotel dining room is especially stunning, where you might spot a family of deer from the window while you eat.
The Willard: Full of class and historical political happenings, the Willard Hotel shines in our nation’s capital, just a stone’s throw away from the White House. Around since 1847, the Willard has hosted guests like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, Tom Thumb and Emily Dickinson. Abraham Lincoln lived in the hotel before his 1861 Inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous “I Have a Dream” speech here. Grab a drink in the famed Round Robin bar or have tea and petit fours while listening to a harpist in Peacock Alley.
The Grand: Mackinac Island is a small, car-less place between the peninsulas of Michigan and a great vacation spot if you’re interested in bike riding, fudge, water sports and relaxation. The Grand hotel, built in 1887 is also a main attraction for its beauty and notable 660 foot front porch, loaded with easy-going rocking chairs. At the hotel’s opening, room rates ranged from $3-$5/night and guests have included 5 U.S. presidents, Mark Twain and Thomas Edison. In fact, the hotel hosted the first public demonstration of Edison’s phonograph on its front porch.
El Tovar: Seated on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the picturesque El Tovar hotel opened its doors in 1905 as part of the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railroad. Find comfort sitting in front of the large fireplace in the lobby or experience a fine dining experience while watching the sunset over the canyon. You may also remember this hotel from scenes in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The Stanley: Mostly noted for being a great haunt and the inspiration for Stephen King’s, The Shining, The Stanley hotel opened on July 4, 1909 and sits with a panoramic view of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO. It’s hosted guests like Theodore Roosevelt and Titanic survivor Margaret Brown. Many people claim the hotel is haunted, particularly the ballroom. On a lighter note, the hotel was also the filming location of the “Hotel Danbury” in the 1994 film Dumb & Dumber.
The Drake: At the top of the Magnificent Mile and overlooking Lake Michigan, The Drake has been a historic place to stay or have a cocktail since 1920. It’s hosted a slew of famous guests including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, Judy Garland, Hugh Hefner, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor. During a stay, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio carved their initials into the wooden bar in the Cap Cod Room.
The National: This classic Art Deco hotel in Miami has been a staple since 1939. Many guests like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles have been taken by its infinity pool and proximity to the white sands of South Beach.