There are countless pieces that form a hotel’s identity—from an ideal location to its pool amenities to the thread count on the plush beds. But one of the most unique facets of a luxury property’s makeup is its history, and the United States boasts a long list of hotels rich with fascinating backgrounds, including architectural details, landmark statuses and famous guests. Whether you’re vacationing in Los Angeles or New York City or escaping to Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, we’ve rounded up 10 hotels across the country that are worthy of a history lesson.
The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel is actually older than the city of Beverly Hills—it was once home to a post office and a primary school before the city was incorporated—so it’s fitting that it became the first official historic landmark in mid-2012. Nicknamed “The Pink Palace,” The Beverly Hills Hotel has hosted celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor to John Lennon in its 101-year history.
Built in 1926, this Miami hotel mixes Italian and Spanish architectural styles—the 93-foot copper tower is modeled after the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. After becoming famous as a getaway for the wealthy during the Jazz Age, The Biltmore became a hospital during World War II, and then was unoccupied before reopening as a hotel in the 1980s.
Originally built as a private home in the early 1900s, Mansions on Fifth is one of the few remaining mansions that still exists on Pittsburgh’s “Millionaire’s Row.” The grand structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and features such as a library, original wine cellar and various fireplaces truly make it feel like a home.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich.
A National Historic landmark, Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island is a summer getaway on the island known for its ban on cars—access is by ferry or plane only. Each of the hotel’s 385 guest rooms is different and designed with colorful wallpaper and floral patterns. More than 30 “named” suites honor exceptional people and places, including seven former first ladies.
This San Diego resort is famous for its red-turreted Victorian exterior and beachfront location. Hotel Del Coronado opened in 1888, and Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot was filmed here in 1958.
The Plaza Hotel, New York
This Fifth Avenue hotel is both a New York City landmark and a National Historic Landmark. The Beaux-Arts design was fully restored during a 2007 renovation in honor of its 100-year anniversary. In spring 2013, the Four-Star hotel unveiled The Fitzgerald Suite in honor of the release The Great Gatsby and paying homage to the author who was a regular at The Plaza Hotel.
The Inn at Leola Village, Lancaster, Pa.
Head to Pennsylvania’s Amish Country for a stay at The Inn at Leola Village, where the original buildings date back to 1867 and served as farmhouses, a tobacco farm and a carriage house. Now, the 62-room inn is a charming countryside respite with Four-Star TÈ Restaurant, and guest rooms that feature exposed wood beams and antique furniture.
The Five-Star hotel opened in 1895 and has been a Richmond fixture ever since. The Beaux-Arts building is a Virginia landmark and has hosted 12 presidents. The Jefferson Hotel’s rotunda feels historic thanks to its marble columns and stained glass, and the rooms match the traditional style—with original woodworking and antique reproduction furniture.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Cincinnatian Hotel is famous for being one of the first hotels in the world to have elevators. The Forbes Recommended property is still impressing guests today with touches ranging from original artwork created by local artists to afternoon tea in the atrium of The Cricket Lounge.
Housed in a 1905 Beaux-Arts building that was originally The Gotham Hotel, The Peninsula New York is known for its façade of limestone carvings, a copper cornice and Doric columns. This Five-Star New York City landmark mixes history with decidedly modern technology; rooms have bedside panels that control everything from temperature to the do-not-disturb sign.
Hotel Blackhawk, Davenport, Iowa
This Forbes Recommended hotel seamlessly combines its past (dating back to 1915, when it first opened) with modern flair thanks to its major renovation that was completed in 2009. As a member of the Historic Hotels of America, you’ll spot aspects of the original building (stained glass, lobby columns) along with 21st-century amenities such as an on-site bowling alley—which was taken out in the 1950s only to be later rebuilt to restore the hotel to its original splendor—and spa.
Modeled after the grand hotels of Europe, The Davenport Hotel and Tower traces its history all the way back to 1914. Throughout the years, the Spokane hotel has hosted a variety of guests, from politicians to celebrities, and its Victorian-era decadence retains its strong presence within The Davenport’s walls.
The Saint Paul Hotel has played a role in countless cultural events in its 103-year history (though the building dates back to 1856), from hosting a dinner to salute pilot Charles Lindbergh in the 1920s to serving as a headquarters for one of St. Paul’s major gangsters, Leon Gleckman, in the 1930s.
This French Quarter hotel has remained a famous address in New Orleans since 1886. As one of the last family-run hotels in the U.S., Hotel Monteleone makes appearances in literary works from Ernest Hemingway and Eudora Welty, and it is one of just three hotels in the country to be named a Literary Landmark.
Photos Courtesy of Dorchester Collection, The Biltmore Hotel, Grand Hotel, Hotel Del Coronado, Fairmont Hotels And Resorts, The Jefferson Hotel, The Peninsula New York/VFM Leonardo Inc