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The 10 Most Historic Hotels in the U.S.

Why only visit the sites of important events when you can stay in one on your next trip?

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Even if you're not a history buff, travel is often inextricably linked with exploring an area's past and the significant events that happened there. But while visiting notable event sites and prestigious museums is enough for some, being able to stay in accommodations that are as storied as the destination itself can be especially rewarding. Plenty of lodging options from coast to coast can boast of having hosted notable characters, maintained the look and charm of yesteryear, and have even played a part in making history themselves. Read on for the most historic hotels in the U.S., according to travel experts.

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The Most Historical Hotels in the U.S.

The Stanley Hotel (Estes Park, Colorado)


A hotel inspiring an iconic horror novel and film might not be the best selling point for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation. But fans of the genre won't want to miss a stay at the Stanley Hotel, which makes up for its scary reputation with its jaw-dropping views of the surrounding mountains.

"This hotel, with its eerie ambiance dating back to 1909, is reputed to have inspired Stephen King's The Shining and harbors whispered tales of the supernatural," says Hollie McKay, travel expert and VP of communications for HotelPlanner. The hotel even maintains a Stephen King suite, complete with copies of the iconic author's books.

But it's not just the hotel's literary history that's intriguing: It also hosted some notable visitors who enjoyed what the property had to offer. "Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, indulged in outdoor pursuits during his stay," says McKay. "Meanwhile, Eleanor Roosevelt convened discussions on women's rights, adding a unique layer to the hotel's story."

The Inn at Perry Cabin (St. Michaels, Maryland)


Those who have an affinity for early American history might want to consider a stay at The Inn at Perry Cabin.

"This beautiful hotel is located in St. Michaels, Maryland—also known as 'the town that fooled the British,' right along the Miles River," explains Annie Jones, owner & luxury travel advisor at Telos Travel. "During the War of 1812, the residents hung lanterns from the treetops outside of town and evaded the bombardment by the British, successfully saving the town!"

Its history isn't just relegated to its famous involvement, as many of the original buildings are still there today and date back to the 17th century. And perhaps most importantly, it also happens to be a nice place to stay.

"Not only is the Inn a peaceful sanctuary to relax, but you can also join one of their Path of the Past tours to learn about the history of the Inn and St. Michaels," says Jones. "The Inn was built in 1815, and the original manor is still used today! The original owner, Mr. Samuel Hambleton, became purser to Commodore Perry during the war—hence the name Perry Cabin!"

The Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, California)


Los Angeles has its fair share of hotels dripping in Hollywood history. But it's not the only city where you can get a blast from Tinseltown's past.

"Want to walk the same halls as Marilyn Monroe? Look no further than the iconic Hotel del Coronado," says Duncan Greenfield-Turk, founder of Global Travel Moments. "Built in 1888, this Victorian beachfront marvel is more than just a hotel: It's a slice of Hollywood and royal history rolled into one."

Featured in the timeless film classic Some Like It Hot, the hotel's royal visits and Hollywood escapades add layers to its captivating charm. But like many older hotels, it also has a reputation for unearthly guests.

"It's also known for the ghostly lore of Kate Morgan, adding a touch of mystery to your stay," Greenfield-Turk says.

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The Palmer House Hilton (Chicago, Illinois)


As a booming city that came of age in the later half of the 19th century, Chicago is rich with important historic sites. One of them just happens to be a place where you can spend the night: The Palmer House Hilton.

"The hotel has been welcoming guests since 1871, having survived the Great Chicago Fire of the same year," says McKay. "The current building, designed by architect John M. Van Osdel, opened in 1873."

It also played host to some notable VIPs. "The hotel's historical significance is further amplified by the fact that it has hosted many historical figures, including U.S. presidents such as Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and William McKinley," she says. "The Palmer House is not just a hotel, but a living testament to history, contributing significantly to the fabric of Chicago's social scene."

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (Denver, Colorado)


Not every hotel that opens its doors ends up standing the test of time. However, one notable building in Colorado has maintained a solidly intriguing history practically since its inception.

"Known as Denver's 'Grand Dame,' The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa has been open since 1892—only 16 years after Colorado earned its statehood," says Leslie Carbone, a travel expert at Sancerres at Sunset. "From the beginning, the hotel attracted royalty, presidents, and celebrities. The impressive guest list includes the Beatles during their 1964 tour and Denver socialite Margaret' Unsinkable Molly' Brown, who stayed there two weeks after surviving the sinking of the RMS Titanic."

According to hotel representatives, nearly every U.S. president since Teddy Roosevelt has visited The Brown Palace. But it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who was perhaps the most frequent guest among them, choosing the hotel as his 1952 campaign headquarters when he ran for office.

Now, the hotel's Eisenhower Suite features a tribute wall showcasing letters, photos, and mementos from the 34th commander-in-chief. Savvy guests can also get a more up-close piece of evidence of their time there.

"Ike loved to play golf, and he sometimes practiced his swing in the large living room of The Brown's Presidential Suite," Debra Faulkner, historian at The Brown Palace Hotel, tells Best Life. "On one occasion, a slight miscalculation resulted in his golf ball slamming into the fireplace mantel, leaving quite an impression. When the Eisenhower Suite was created in that same space in 2000, they replaced the damaged mantel with a new one—but so many people were familiar with the story of the golf ball goof that the designers chose to preserve the piece of mantel with its infamous imperfection in a shadowbox, along with the story behind it. Visitors to this day can still see the Presidential Dent on display next to the executive desk."

The Peabody Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee)


If you're traveling through the South, check out the one hotel travel experts say stands out for its history of having hosted everyone from musicians, movie stars, and iconic civil rights leaders and activists.

"The Peabody Memphis, established in 1869, is a treasure trove of stories and traditions, renowned for its unique charm and the famous 'Peabody Ducks' march—an enchanting tradition dating back to the 1930s," says Greenfield-Turk. "Having welcomed stars like Elvis Presley, the hotel encapsulates a rich history within its walls, particularly in its grand ballroom and lobby, where the past seems to whisper through the opulent décor. It offers a perfect setting for those who appreciate the allure of antiquity mingled with Southern hospitality."

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The Willard InterContinental Hotel (Washington, D.C.)


There's nearly no corner of the nation's capital that hasn't seen a notable event or two. But one particular hotel stands out as a genuine hotspot for history buffs.

"The Willard InterContinental Hotel, located in Washington, D.C., has a rich and storied history dating back to its opening in 1818," says McKay. "Originally named the City Hotel, it quickly became a prominent social and political hub in the nation's capital."

She explains that the property's name changed to the Willard Hotel in 1847 when Henry Willard purchased it. Since then, it has played a significant role in American politics and culture.

"It has hosted numerous presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, who stayed at the hotel before his inauguration in 1861," says McKay. "The term 'lobbyist' is said to have originated at the Willard due to the frequent gatherings of politicians and lobbyists in its lobby."

She adds that the hotel has also been a site for historic events and initiatives. "For example, Julia Ward Howe wrote 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' while staying at the Willard during the Civil War. And Martin Luther King, Jr. also put the final touches on his 'I Have a Dream' speech while staying at the hotel in 1963."

But despite it's long life, the hotel has undergone renovations and expansions while maintaining its historic charm and elegance. "Today, it remains a prestigious hotel symbolizing Washington, D.C.'s rich history and political legacy," she says.

The Lafayette Hotel and Club (San Diego, California)


Southern California has long embraced opulent hotels catering to famous clients and sun-starved visitors. And according to Alexandra Farrington, founder of Acera Travel, the Lafayette Hotel in San Diego's North Park neighborhood is a prime example of a meticulously preserved historic gem.

"Originally constructed in 1946, this mid-century modern masterpiece has been lovingly restored to its former glory, seamlessly blending retro charm with contemporary comforts," she tells Best Life. "Guests can immerse themselves in the hotel's rich history while enjoying its chic decor, lush landscaping, and exceptional amenities.

Built in the wake of the city's World War II boom, local entrepreneur Larry Imig's motel—which eventually became the Lafayette Hotel and Club—stood out as an example of Colonial Revival and Neoclassical architecture that was rare in San Diego at the time.

"The hotel, with its celebrated designer pool, quickly grew in status as a local and regional fixture," says Farrington. "Star comedian Bob Hope owned one of the hotel's penthouses, and many other famous entertainers and athletes came to the hotel to unwind. Conrad Hilton even personally owned the hotel and served as his headquarters for the San Diego Chargers."

She adds that the most extensive renovation in the site's history was completed in 2023, making it possible for guests to enjoy the same facilities that were so celebrated decades ago with modern additions and comforts.

The Red Lion Inn (Stockbridge, Massachusetts)


In New England, being a centuries-old business isn't exactly a rarity. But The Red Lion Inn stands out as a comfortable and charming place to stay that's oozing with history.

"Established in 1773, this quaint inn is one of the nation's oldest continuously operating taverns," says McKay. "Its walls echo with the presence of past luminaries, such as Norman Rockwell, who frequented the premises—his studio is a visible landmark just across the street."

Hotel Monteleone (New Orleans, Louisiana)


To say that New Orleans is a city surging with vibrant culture and plenty of local lore is an understatement. And while there is no shortage of storied lodging options in town, guests will likely never forget one location—along with its iconic Carousel Bar.

"Celebrating over 135 years, Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans has been proudly operated by five generations of Monteleones since 1886," says Farrington. "The hotel's famed grandfather clock still chimes in the lobby, surrounded by glittering chandeliers, polished marble floors, and gleaming brass appointments."

Some of history's most renowned authors, including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Truman Capote, were frequent visitors here. "In fact, the hotel has appeared as a setting in American fiction so often that it prompted the Friends of Libraries U.S.A. to designate Hotel Monteleone a Literary Landmark," Farrington says.

Fortunately, visitors can expect the historic property to be in top shape when they arrive, thanks in part to the opening of the Iberville Tower after a two-year renovation.

"The Iberville Tower offers a self-contained escape within the Hotel Monteleone, featuring 160 completely renovated rooms, 48 brand-new luxury suites, and the freshly designed Iberville Ballroom," says Farrington.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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