American hotels hiding historic secrets



Slide 1 of 39: America may be a relatively young nation but many of its hotels offer fascinating glimpses into the past. From storied coastal inns to city venues steeped in legend, these are the most historic hotels in the USA.
Slide 2 of 39: The Peabody began life in 1869, though it was rebuilt in its current Downtown Memphis location in 1925. It was the vision of Colonel Robert Campbell Brinkley and was named after philanthropist George Peabody, a friend of Brinkley's who passed just before the hotel's construction. The Peabody earned its moniker – the South's Grand Hotel – early on. Built to the tune of $60,000, with 75 rooms, fine dining areas and a lavish ballroom, it was indeed one of the most luxurious hotels around.
Slide 3 of 39: The Continental ballroom has seen many a socialite and celebrity come and go: it was the venue for Elvis Presley's senior prom in 1953. Some other, more curious celebrities are woven into the hotel's history too: the Peabody ducks. In 1933, just back from a hunting trip, the hotel's then-manager Frank Schutt placed some ducks (live decoys) in the fountain lobby for his own amusement. Some 85 years later, ducks march for a dip in the fountain daily at 11am and 5pm. 
Slide 4 of 39: The DeSoto has had several iterations in its history. First built in 1834, it was given a luxurious facelift in 1879, and another in 1968 – its most recent upgrade was in the form of a $9.4 million renovation, finished in 2017. Despite its numerous changes, the DeSoto has always been a retreat for well-heeled locals and high-profile visitors passing through.

Slide 5 of 39: During the Prohibition era, the DeSoto housed notorious gangster and rum-runner Al Capone. Local mechanic Sherman Helmey would fix up the felon's moonshine-carrying motors as he passed through town, and Capone would relax in the glorious surrounds of the DeSoto while he waited. Though still located in the heart of Savannah's Historic District, the hotel has a distinctly modern feel today: a lobby art gallery and a creative craft cocktail bar are brilliant contemporary touches.
Slide 6 of 39: The Palmer House opened in Chicago in 1871 to much applause – but it was short lived. Less than a fortnight later, it was ravaged by the Great Chicago Fire and burnt to the ground. Businessman Potter Palmer, the hotel's proprietor and visionary, was not to be defeated though. He built up Palmer House bigger and better than before, reopening it once again in 1873. The star-studded guest list has included President Harry S. Truman, Louis Armstrong, Charles Dickens, Judy Garland and many more. 
Slide 7 of 39: The sumptuous lobby is the biggest nod to yesteryear. Bertha Palmer, Potter's wife, had a penchant for all things French, and she commissioned celebrated French painter Louis Pierre Rigal to complete a large fresco on the lobby ceiling. That fresco is beautifully preserved to this day.
Slide 8 of 39: The Jefferson was originally built as a residential building for Washington DC's elite. It wasn't until 1955 that the apartments were converted into an opulent hotel. The design of the hotel, and the objects it's filled with, were inspired by the hotel's namesake, the president Thomas Jefferson, and his home in Monticello, Virginia.
Slide 9 of 39: The hotel remains a treasure trove of antiquities. Look out for historic documents signed by Jefferson himself. The Book Room, a pocket-sized wood-paneled library designed with Jefferson's Monticello library in mind is one. The airy skylight that soars above the Greenhouse restaurant was painstakingly restored in the hotel's 2009 renovation. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – check the website for reopening updates.

Slide 10 of 39: Located in the center of Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel was established in 1925. It was a place for pleasure seekers, with a grand ballroom from which local Miss Harriet James ran a popular dance school for many years. Being in Salem, though, the hotel hasn't escaped the city's reputation: popular television series Bewitched filmed one of their most famous episodes here back in the 1970s.
Slide 11 of 39: In more recent history, it has welcomed President Bill Clinton and actors Jennifer Lawrence and Robert de Niro, who stayed here as they filmed 2015 blockbuster Joy. The hotel remains bright and comfortable with two modern restaurants, Nathaniel's and Tavern on the Green.
Slide 12 of 39: This hotel is a Louisville institution. Local magnate J. Graham Brown built the hotel in 1923, and at the time it was one of the country's largest. The hotel has lived through the Great Depression (during which time many hotel employees worked a period with no pay), an Ohio River flooding, and the Second World War. The latter, though, was apparently a boon for business: local residents and soldiers alike "sought relief from the anxieties of war at The Brown Hotel."
Slide 13 of 39: Over the years, the hotel has played host to notables such as Dick Martin and trumpeter Clyde McCoy, as well as Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Elizabeth Taylor. The English-Renaissance interiors have been admired since their initial design and are still gloriously preserved, particularly in the lobby. Old-world touches in the rooms, such as mahogany bed heads and upholstered furnishings, keep a feeling of the past alive.
Slide 14 of 39: Affectionately known as 'The Del', Hotel del Coronado was one of the first to be built on the USA's west coast and, at the time, the largest resort-hotel in the world. A preening example of a property, it was finished in 1888, with a handsome ballroom, steam-powered elevators and electricity (still a wonder in 1888). The aptly named Crown Room, an enormous banquet hall, was (and remains) the hotel's crowning glory. Take a look at vintage images of America's historic attractions. 

Slide 15 of 39: The hotel performed a Christmas miracle when in 1904 it became the first place to light up an outdoor tree with electrics. It has a hand in US politics too: numerous presidents have rested their heads here (Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, to name a couple), while Richard Nixon held the first state dinner ever outside the White House at The Del. Today, the wooden lobby has barely changed in over a century and the downstairs store contains historic exhibits related to the hotel.
Slide 16 of 39: Florida is a place that loves its golf, and the state’s first ever golf course was built right here at The Breakers. The hotel was the brainchild of railroad pioneer Henry Morrison Flagler, starting off in 1896 as The Palm Beach Inn. After a mammoth extension in 1901, it was renamed The Breakers since Flagler's guests were so fond of rooms "down by the breakers". The golf course came a little before the overhaul, in 1897, designed with the help of Alexander H. Findlay, golf's founding father.
Slide 17 of 39: The Breakers hasn't escaped its tragedies though. The hotel has been razed to the ground twice in its history: once in 1903, during yet another enlargement, and again in 1925. Each time, it was built up bigger and better than before. The structure that stands today dates to 1926. It's a rambling Italian Renaissance building with frescoes painted by Florentine artists and an entrance fountain inspired by Boboli Gardens. It remains a premier golf destination too.
Slide 18 of 39: Established by Harvey D. Parker in 1855 on the site of a former boarding house, the Parker House is now owned by Omni Hotels and Resorts. Built on Boston's historic school street, the hotel has a theatrical past. It's a stone's throw from the city's Theater District, with big-screen greats Judy Garland, James Dean and Stevie Nicks, and more recently Ben Affleck, all overnighting here. It was also here, in Parker's Restaurant, that John F. Kennedy proposed to future first lady Jackie in 1953.
Slide 19 of 39: Usually, The Last Hurrah bar is the place to truly soak up the history of the place. It's a bourbon bar with wood paneling and plush leather bar stools. Black and white photos adorn the walls, including one of James Michael Curley, an eccentric former governor of Massachusetts and regular visitor of The Parker. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so check the website for reopening updates.
Slide 20 of 39: Admiral Fell Inn had small beginnings. It began as a boarding house, providing shelter for the many sailors that came into Baltimore's Fell's Point. In the late 1920s, it expanded into a Seaman’s YMCA before eventually closing in the 1970s. The hotel began to resemble its current shape in 1985, when the building was opened once more, and a 38-room inn was created. Finally, in 1996, upgrades transformed the space into a beautiful boutique hotel. 
Slide 21 of 39: Today, the Tavern Bar is a crowd-pleaser, serving cocktails made to historic recipes. The cozy suites are European in style with ornate four-poster beds, chintzy rugs and black and white photographs on the walls. Some are rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of sailors past, so leave the light on if you're afraid of bumps in the night. Discover the most haunted hotel in every state.
Slide 22 of 39: Literary legend lives in the walls of this Big Apple hotel. Opening in 1902, the hotel gave birth to literary group, the Algonquin Round Table. The band of writers began meeting in the hotel for lunch every day from 1919 onwards – among them were George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott. Newspaper The New Yorker was also founded here by journalist Harold Ross. 
Slide 23 of 39: It was in 1933 that the storied Blue Bar opened, watering Round Table members, as well as other literary, theater and Hollywood legends over the years. American caricaturist Al Hirschfeld was a regular punter. The most famous drink on the menu is the $10,000 martini, which comes with a real diamond glittering at the bottom of the glass.
Slide 24 of 39: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel is another one destroyed by flames in its lifetime. The first version was built in 1852 by James Battle, but was devastated entirely as fire ripped through it in 1905. The second, current, Battle House was constructed once more in 1908, designed by American architect Frank Andrews.
Slide 25 of 39: The hotel, however, closed again in 1974, as the surrounding area fell into decline. It was in very recent history indeed that the Battle House was reborn once more: in 2007, the hotel, painstakingly restored, opened its doors with an elaborate opening ceremony. Now nicknamed 'Mobile’s living room', it is again a welcoming place for locals, visiting notables and tourists alike.
Slide 26 of 39: This is a hotel of relative youth when compared to many in this list. But the Andaz West Hollywood's riotous rock-n-roll history has imbued it with myth and legend. Country singer Gene Autry opened the hotel in 1963 and it enjoys a place on the east of the Sunset Strip. The spot earned the nickname 'The Riot House' for the debauched behavior of its celebrity guests, a play on its Hyatt House name. Over the years visitors have included Led Zeppelin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Bolts (pictured).
Slide 27 of 39: It's reported that Led Zeppelin in particular ran riot throughout the hotel, trashing rooms and racking up thousands of dollars of damage. The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards also apparently threw a TV from the window, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers jumped from the roof into the hotel pool during a shoot. Today the renamed hotel remains as glamorous as ever, with stylish suites, a rooftop pool and modern dining. Look out for portraits of musical greats throughout the property.
Slide 28 of 39: The site that now boasts the Bourbon Hotel has a long history. In the early 19th century there was a theater here, with a packed schedule of opera performances. Various iterations of the theater remained until at least the 1880s and during this time the Salle d’Orléans, a decadent ballroom was constructed. The ballroom became a gathering place for the city's upper class, with dazzling parties and dances. But in 1881, the building took a different turn indeed.
Slide 29 of 39: The property was purchased by the Sisters of the Holy Family, who converted it into a convent, putting a stop to the days of exuberance and excess here. When they eventually outgrew the building, the sisters moved on, making way for the Bourbon Hotel, established in 1964. The ballroom was restored, as was a grand staircase and the lobby. Today, the two-story French Quarter suites are the most upscale accommodations, complete with private balconies and large, comfy beds. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so check the website for reopening updates.
Slide 30 of 39: Still locally owned, the Mayflower Park Hotel (once the Bergonian) was opened in 1927. The hotel was ritzy in its design: all lush palms, busy carpets and silk drapes. Perhaps the most significant spot is the Carousel Room (pictured). The hotel was established during Prohibition, so there were no bars to be seen, but in 1947, 14 years after nationwide Prohibition ended, the Bartell Drug Store in this spot was replaced by quirky bar-restaurant. Take a look at America's historic attractions in their heyday.
Slide 31 of 39: With fairground horses adorning the ceiling, the Carousel Room was one of the most unique watering holes in the city. Today, the bar is known as chic Oliver's Room (pictured). Over the years, many dignitaries have stayed at the hotel too: Franklin D. Roosevelt penned his inaugural speech here and Winston Churchill attended a state dinner here in 1945.
Slide 32 of 39: The Grand Hotel opened in 1888 and, as its name suggests, was one of the most impressive hotels of its time. The 660-foot (201m) porch, one of the longest hotel porches in the world, is the property's defining feature – a meeting place for everyone who was anyone on Mackinac Island and around. One of the hotel's most famous frequenters was late author Mark Twain, who lectured here in the 1890s.
Slide 33 of 39: By the 1930s, motor cars were banned on Mackinac Island – a ban that still stands today. You can reach the island, and the hotel, by ferry or plane, then traverse it on foot, by bike or horse and carriage. The hotel also features an 18-hole golf course and the restaurant is known for its signature pecan balls, 70,000 of which are typically sold every year. Now take a look at the world's most remote hotels.
Slide 34 of 39: It's hard to believe that the Omni Homestead Resort originated as an 18-room wooden hotel, finished by Captain Thomas Bullitt in 1766. Bullitt died in action during the American Revolutionary War, and his family continued to operate the hotel until 1832, when it was acquired by physician Dr. Thomas Goode. More 250 years after the Homestead Resort's initial construction, the hotel proudly labels itself 'America's first resort'.
Slide 35 of 39: Significant, too, is the resort's golfing history. Homestead's Old Course, completed in 1892, celebrated its 125th year in 2017, and its first tee is the oldest in continuous use in the US. President George H. W. Bush and many members of the Rockefeller family have teed off here. This is what family vacations looked like the decade you were born.
Slide 36 of 39: Like many, this hotel had humble beginnings. It started in 1859 as a brewery with only 50 rooms – the rooms were for punters who had nowhere else to overnight after an evening propped at the bar. The property was expanded after the original owner, William A Menger, passed away. Throughout the late 19th century, it became the vision of new proprietor, Major J H Kampmann, who enlisted the help of lauded architect Alfred Giles. 
Slide 37 of 39: The Victorian Lobby, the handiwork of Giles, has been restored and updated with homage to its original state. Though no longer serving as the main lobby, this three-story atrium wows with its eight Corinthian columns and a blue-hued skylight, installed in 1909. The Menger Bar is a historic spot for a nightcap: it was built in 1887 to resemble London's House of Lords Pub, and from here Theodore Roosevelt recruited many of his 'Rough Riders', the first United States Volunteer Cavalry.
Slide 38 of 39: This Coral Gables hotel opened in 1926, then named the Miami Biltmore Country Club. It was the ultimate in luxury and the place to be during the Jazz Age, with Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby and even Al Capone all escaping to the resort at some point. The hotel barraged through the Great Depression and played its part in the Second World War as well: it was used as a hospital during the conflict, and cared for war veterans up to 1968.
Slide 39 of 39: It wasn't until 1983 that the hotel would be restored to its former splendor. Some $55 million was injected into the Mediterranean Revival hotel, now a National Historic Landmark. The 18-hole golf course was renovated, as was the vast swimming pool, one of the largest in the States. Today it's still the epitome of hotel luxury.

A journey through US history

The Peabody Memphis, Tennessee

The Peabody began life in 1869, though it was rebuilt in its current Downtown Memphis location in 1925. It was the vision of Colonel Robert Campbell Brinkley and was named after philanthropist George Peabody, a friend of Brinkley’s who passed just before the hotel’s construction. The Peabody earned its moniker – the South’s Grand Hotel – early on. Built to the tune of $60,000, with 75 rooms, fine dining areas and a lavish ballroom, it was indeed one of the most luxurious hotels around.

The Peabody Memphis, Tennessee

The Continental ballroom has seen many a socialite and celebrity come and go: it was the venue for Elvis Presley’s senior prom in 1953. Some other, more curious celebrities are woven into the hotel’s history too: the Peabody ducks. In 1933, just back from a hunting trip, the hotel’s then-manager Frank Schutt placed some ducks (live decoys) in the fountain lobby for his own amusement. Some 85 years later, ducks march for a dip in the fountain daily at 11am and 5pm. 

The DeSoto, Savannah, Georgia

The DeSoto has had several iterations in its history. First built in 1834, it was given a luxurious facelift in 1879, and another in 1968 – its most recent upgrade was in the form of a $9.4 million renovation, finished in 2017. Despite its numerous changes, the DeSoto has always been a retreat for well-heeled locals and high-profile visitors passing through.

The DeSoto, Savannah, Georgia

Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois

The Palmer House opened in Chicago in 1871 to much applause – but it was short lived. Less than a fortnight later, it was ravaged by the Great Chicago Fire and burnt to the ground. Businessman Potter Palmer, the hotel’s proprietor and visionary, was not to be defeated though. He built up Palmer House bigger and better than before, reopening it once again in 1873. The star-studded guest list has included President Harry S. Truman, Louis Armstrong, Charles Dickens, Judy Garland and many more. 

Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois

The sumptuous lobby is the biggest nod to yesteryear. Bertha Palmer, Potter’s wife, had a penchant for all things French, and she commissioned celebrated French painter Louis Pierre Rigal to complete a large fresco on the lobby ceiling. That fresco is beautifully preserved to this day.

The Jefferson Hotel, Washington DC

The Jefferson was originally built as a residential building for Washington DC’s elite. It wasn’t until 1955 that the apartments were converted into an opulent hotel. The design of the hotel, and the objects it’s filled with, were inspired by the hotel’s namesake, the president Thomas Jefferson, and his home in Monticello, Virginia.

The Jefferson Hotel, Washington DC

The hotel remains a treasure trove of antiquities. Look out for historic documents signed by Jefferson himself. The Book Room, a pocket-sized wood-paneled library designed with Jefferson’s Monticello library in mind is one. The airy skylight that soars above the Greenhouse restaurant was painstakingly restored in the hotel’s 2009 renovation. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – check the website for reopening updates.

Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts

Located in the center of Salem, the Hawthorne Hotel was established in 1925. It was a place for pleasure seekers, with a grand ballroom from which local Miss Harriet James ran a popular dance school for many years. Being in Salem, though, the hotel hasn’t escaped the city’s reputation: popular television series Bewitched filmed one of their most famous episodes here back in the 1970s.

Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts

In more recent history, it has welcomed President Bill Clinton and actors Jennifer Lawrence and Robert de Niro, who stayed here as they filmed 2015 blockbuster Joy. The hotel remains bright and comfortable with two modern restaurants, Nathaniel’s and Tavern on the Green.

Brown Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky

This hotel is a Louisville institution. Local magnate J. Graham Brown built the hotel in 1923, and at the time it was one of the country’s largest. The hotel has lived through the Great Depression (during which time many hotel employees worked a period with no pay), an Ohio River flooding, and the Second World War. The latter, though, was apparently a boon for business: local residents and soldiers alike “sought relief from the anxieties of war at The Brown Hotel.”

Brown Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky

Hotel del Coronado, California

Affectionately known as ‘The Del’, Hotel del Coronado was one of the first to be built on the USA’s west coast and, at the time, the largest resort-hotel in the world. A preening example of a property, it was finished in 1888, with a handsome ballroom, steam-powered elevators and electricity (still a wonder in 1888). The aptly named Crown Room, an enormous banquet hall, was (and remains) the hotel’s crowning glory. Take a look at vintage images of America’s historic attractions. 

Hotel del Coronado, California

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

Florida is a place that loves its golf, and the state’s first ever golf course was built right here at The Breakers. The hotel was the brainchild of railroad pioneer Henry Morrison Flagler, starting off in 1896 as The Palm Beach Inn. After a mammoth extension in 1901, it was renamed The Breakers since Flagler’s guests were so fond of rooms “down by the breakers”. The golf course came a little before the overhaul, in 1897, designed with the help of Alexander H. Findlay, golf’s founding father.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

Omni Parker House, Boston, Massachusetts

Established by Harvey D. Parker in 1855 on the site of a former boarding house, the Parker House is now owned by Omni Hotels and Resorts. Built on Boston’s historic school street, the hotel has a theatrical past. It’s a stone’s throw from the city’s Theater District, with big-screen greats Judy Garland, James Dean and Stevie Nicks, and more recently Ben Affleck, all overnighting here. It was also here, in Parker’s Restaurant, that John F. Kennedy proposed to future first lady Jackie in 1953.

Omni Parker House, Boston, Massachusetts

Usually, The Last Hurrah bar is the place to truly soak up the history of the place. It’s a bourbon bar with wood paneling and plush leather bar stools. Black and white photos adorn the walls, including one of James Michael Curley, an eccentric former governor of Massachusetts and regular visitor of The Parker. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so check the website for reopening updates.

Admiral Fell Inn, Baltimore, Maryland

Admiral Fell Inn had small beginnings. It began as a boarding house, providing shelter for the many sailors that came into Baltimore’s Fell’s Point. In the late 1920s, it expanded into a Seaman’s YMCA before eventually closing in the 1970s. The hotel began to resemble its current shape in 1985, when the building was opened once more, and a 38-room inn was created. Finally, in 1996, upgrades transformed the space into a beautiful boutique hotel. 

Admiral Fell Inn, Baltimore, Maryland

Today, the Tavern Bar is a crowd-pleaser, serving cocktails made to historic recipes. The cozy suites are European in style with ornate four-poster beds, chintzy rugs and black and white photographs on the walls. Some are rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of sailors past, so leave the light on if you’re afraid of bumps in the night. Discover the most haunted hotel in every state.

Algonquin Hotel, New York City, New York

Literary legend lives in the walls of this Big Apple hotel. Opening in 1902, the hotel gave birth to literary group, the Algonquin Round Table. The band of writers began meeting in the hotel for lunch every day from 1919 onwards – among them were George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott. Newspaper The New Yorker was also founded here by journalist Harold Ross. 

Algonquin Hotel, New York City, New York

The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel, Mobile, Alabama

The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel is another one destroyed by flames in its lifetime. The first version was built in 1852 by James Battle, but was devastated entirely as fire ripped through it in 1905. The second, current, Battle House was constructed once more in 1908, designed by American architect Frank Andrews.

The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel, Mobile, Alabama

Andaz West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

This is a hotel of relative youth when compared to many in this list. But the Andaz West Hollywood’s riotous rock-n-roll history has imbued it with myth and legend. Country singer Gene Autry opened the hotel in 1963 and it enjoys a place on the east of the Sunset Strip. The spot earned the nickname ‘The Riot House’ for the debauched behavior of its celebrity guests, a play on its Hyatt House name. Over the years visitors have included Led Zeppelin, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Bolts (pictured).

Andaz West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

It’s reported that Led Zeppelin in particular ran riot throughout the hotel, trashing rooms and racking up thousands of dollars of damage. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards also apparently threw a TV from the window, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers jumped from the roof into the hotel pool during a shoot. Today the renamed hotel remains as glamorous as ever, with stylish suites, a rooftop pool and modern dining. Look out for portraits of musical greats throughout the property.

Bourbon Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

The site that now boasts the Bourbon Hotel has a long history. In the early 19th century there was a theater here, with a packed schedule of opera performances. Various iterations of the theater remained until at least the 1880s and during this time the Salle d’Orléans, a decadent ballroom was constructed. The ballroom became a gathering place for the city’s upper class, with dazzling parties and dances. But in 1881, the building took a different turn indeed.

Bourbon Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

The property was purchased by the Sisters of the Holy Family, who converted it into a convent, putting a stop to the days of exuberance and excess here. When they eventually outgrew the building, the sisters moved on, making way for the Bourbon Hotel, established in 1964. The ballroom was restored, as was a grand staircase and the lobby. Today, the two-story French Quarter suites are the most upscale accommodations, complete with private balconies and large, comfy beds. The hotel is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so check the website for reopening updates.

Mayflower Park Hotel, Seattle, Washington

Still locally owned, the Mayflower Park Hotel (once the Bergonian) was opened in 1927. The hotel was ritzy in its design: all lush palms, busy carpets and silk drapes. Perhaps the most significant spot is the Carousel Room (pictured). The hotel was established during Prohibition, so there were no bars to be seen, but in 1947, 14 years after nationwide Prohibition ended, the Bartell Drug Store in this spot was replaced by quirky bar-restaurant. Take a look at America’s historic attractions in their heyday.

Mayflower Park Hotel, Seattle, Washington

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

The Grand Hotel opened in 1888 and, as its name suggests, was one of the most impressive hotels of its time. The 660-foot (201m) porch, one of the longest hotel porches in the world, is the property’s defining feature – a meeting place for everyone who was anyone on Mackinac Island and around. One of the hotel’s most famous frequenters was late author Mark Twain, who lectured here in the 1890s.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

By the 1930s, motor cars were banned on Mackinac Island – a ban that still stands today. You can reach the island, and the hotel, by ferry or plane, then traverse it on foot, by bike or horse and carriage. The hotel also features an 18-hole golf course and the restaurant is known for its signature pecan balls, 70,000 of which are typically sold every year. Now take a look at the world’s most remote hotels.

Omni Homestead Resort, Virginia

It’s hard to believe that the Omni Homestead Resort originated as an 18-room wooden hotel, finished by Captain Thomas Bullitt in 1766. Bullitt died in action during the American Revolutionary War, and his family continued to operate the hotel until 1832, when it was acquired by physician Dr. Thomas Goode. More 250 years after the Homestead Resort’s initial construction, the hotel proudly labels itself ‘America’s first resort’.

Omni Homestead Resort, Virginia

Significant, too, is the resort’s golfing history. Homestead’s Old Course, completed in 1892, celebrated its 125th year in 2017, and its first tee is the oldest in continuous use in the US. President George H. W. Bush and many members of the Rockefeller family have teed off here. This is what family vacations looked like the decade you were born.

Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas

Like many, this hotel had humble beginnings. It started in 1859 as a brewery with only 50 rooms – the rooms were for punters who had nowhere else to overnight after an evening propped at the bar. The property was expanded after the original owner, William A Menger, passed away. Throughout the late 19th century, it became the vision of new proprietor, Major J H Kampmann, who enlisted the help of lauded architect Alfred Giles. 

Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas

Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida

This Coral Gables hotel opened in 1926, then named the Miami Biltmore Country Club. It was the ultimate in luxury and the place to be during the Jazz Age, with Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby and even Al Capone all escaping to the resort at some point. The hotel barraged through the Great Depression and played its part in the Second World War as well: it was used as a hospital during the conflict, and cared for war veterans up to 1968.

Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida

It wasn’t until 1983 that the hotel would be restored to its former splendor. Some $55 million was injected into the Mediterranean Revival hotel, now a National Historic Landmark. The 18-hole golf course was renovated, as was the vast swimming pool, one of the largest in the States. Today it’s still the epitome of hotel luxury.

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