7 of America's Most Historic, Road Trip-Worthy Hotels
As the warm breezes of summer slowly creep upon us, it can only mean one thing: it’s nearly road trip season. Hitting the open road is almost as American as apple pie, especially during the summer months. While cruising down Route 66 is always an iconic drive, why not give your trip just a little dose of American history? These seven hotels offer a chance to see the sights, indulge in good times, and learn a little something while you're at it:
The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens, Florida
It’s safe to assume that America’s oldest city has a solid dose of history residing amongst its cobblestones. The horse-drawn carriages, Spanish colonial architecture and miles of beaches make St. Augustine, Florida an inviting escape from reality all its own. When you aren’t taking in the city’s charm, rest your head at the Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens. Formerly the home of the Dow Museum of Historic Houses, the hotel once welcomed literary guests such as Mark Twain. The entire property is heavily curated, from its gardens to the watercolor paintings that adorn the walls. The Collector is particularly unique because of the programs it has on offer for guests. Their “Taste the History Experience” takes guests through a two-night excursion through St. Augustine’s past and present. On the tour, guests will be guided by the inn’s personal historian, take a one-on-one mixology class with the bar’s director, as well as experience a private flight tasting of the cities favorite local coffees.
The Willard Intercontinental, Washington D.C.
No list of historical hotels would be complete without the nation’s capital. While the Watergate may take the cake in terms of notoriety, the iconic Willard Intercontinental Hotel is known for being a DC staple. Located just two blocks from the White House, the hotel has been privy to a bounty of cultural and political events in years past. In addition to the fact that Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was completed in the hotel lobby, it was also the place where the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ was penned by Julia Ward Howe during the Civil War. In more modern times, the historic space is home to 335 elegant rooms and suites, a Willard’s Kid’s Concierge Program and hosts one of the District’s best afternoon teas at its tea room, Peacock Alley.
Hotel Monteleone, Louisiana
Often called the Grand Dame of the French Quarter, the Hotel Monteleone has a storied history in New Orleans. Family-owned since 1886, the regal property at the foot of Royal Street has been a favorite among esteemed Southern literati such as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. Those that love a good ghost story should also note that the hotel is known as one of the most haunted places in New Orleans. The ghosts aren’t the only spectacle on property, however. The Carousel Bar & Lounge is a Big Easy hot spot due its unique circus theme and 25-seat revolving bar. If you can’t leave home without your furry friend, the Monteleone has you covered there, too. The “Monte’s Pet Package” gives guests their four-legged companions a special pampering that includes a special bag of goodies.
Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Georgia
Before it was a hotel, the Jekyll Club was a winter hideaway and hunting club for America’s wealthiest men; think Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Pulitzer, and Baker, to name a few. The Sans Souci building was owned in part by J.P. Morgan, and was known as one of the country’s first luxury condominiums. To add to the property’s epic history, the first transcontinental phone call took place on the grounds. In 1915, Alexander Graham Bell placed a phone call between himself in New York and AT&T President Theodore Newton Vail at the Club. These days, the property is still considered one of the best hotels in Georgia. The Beach Pavilion is the Club’s beachfront facility that offers views of the Atlantic and an all-American menu for when that craving hits you. The grounds are also expansive, offering guests the opportunity to explore hiking trails, manicured lawns, swampy marshes, and their very own croquet lawn before retiring to one of its many luxurious suites.
The Hotel del Coronado, California
California’s first seaside resort also just happens to be its most historic. The Hotel del Coronado (lovingly referred to as “the Hotel Del”) is cozily situated on the beach of Coronado island, just off the coast of San Diego. The hotel is most well-known for being the main setting for the Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like it Hot. Many Presidents have also taken shelter at the Del, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford. The hotel has a variety of activities made accessible for guests, whether you’re looking to have a simple, romantic getaway on the beach or a fun-filled adventure in the city (which is connected to the island by the Coronado Bay Bridge). While on the property, be sure to indulge in the hotel’s famous Crown Room brunch, which offers lavish Bloody Mary’s and a design-your-own-donut station.
The Palmer House, Illinois
The Palmer House is not only the oldest hotel in Chicago, it is the result of one of the city’s greatest love stories. Potter Palmer, a business magnate, fell in love with a young socialite named Bertha Hilton Honore and gifted her the hotel as a wedding present. Bertha was a known lover of the arts, filling the halls of the Palmer House with paintings commissioned by her friend Claude Monet. By 1900, the hotel had become one of Chicago’s hot spots, hosting writers and luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. The ceiling of the lobby is a breathtaking patchwork of murals done by French painter Louis Pierre Regal, and was recently restored by Lido Lippi, renowned lead restorer of the Sistine Chapel. The hotel is just as dedicated to wellness as it is to the arts, however. The 8,000 square foot spa incorporates yoga, Chinese medicine, and modern beauty technologies to provide guests with the ultimate rejuvenating experience during their stay.
Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn, New York
Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway show Hamilton, this one is for you. The tavern at the Beekman Arms is where the initial argument between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr began before Hamilton was fatally shot in a duel between the two men. Those issues aside, this Hudson Valley hotel was also a favorite amongst the likes of George Washington and (ahem) Benedict Arnold back in the day. Despite being America’s oldest continuously-operated hotel, the accommodations are surprisingly modern while still maintaining a colonial comfort. Don’t miss the chance to check out the antique market that stands just behind the hotel’s main building, which features a selection of unique, highly-curated vintage goods.