Beautiful old American hotels speak to us. They speak with the echoes of earlier guests in earlier times, and, often, those earlier times saw great historical events. They speak with an Old-Time elegance and dedication to customer service sometimes not found in more-contemporary hotels. They speak to us of great charm and intimacy, and of times when we perhaps weren't as rushed. They speak of personal service and time-honored tradition. And of architectural touches outside, and design touches inside, that still retain their regal appearance.
Here are my 5 favorite old hotels in America;
#5 - PEERY HOTEL, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - This gray lady in downtown Salt Lake City dates back to 1910, when two brothers named David and Joseph Peery opened up a grand hotel. But their approach was somewhat different. They built their hotel using Prairie-style old-brick architecture, and classical motifs both inside and out, and it immediately became the buzz of Salt Lake. The hotel's interior and exterior design stayed pretty much the same until 1999, when it was remodeled as a luxury boutique hotel. The new owners, thankfully, were meticulous about retaining the aura and the styling of the early-1900's. In fact, the guest rooms still include some of the original art pieces from 1910. And everywhere you look, you'll also find pieces from the old railroad and mining industries in the area, each of which played major parts in local history. At the Peery Hotel, you can walk up grand staircases under hanging chandeliers, or walk on old-fashioned tile or wood floors or thick antique carpeting. You can dine in the evocative surroundings of Christopher's Prime Tavern & Grill or the Sonoma Grill & Wine Bar. And you can work off your meal at the fitness center. This classic gray hotel with white trim was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Adding to the legend, the Peery also has things that go bump in the night. Many guests, over the years, have heard a woman moaning in the hallways in the wee hours. And some guests have reported seeing an apparition of a man standing in a doorway. Proof-positive that, at this hotel, the Old Days are still here.
#4 - SUN VALLEY RESORT, SUN VALLEY, IDAHO - Sun Valley played a key role in a transformation of the American hotel scene. A combination village and resort, and open since 1936, it was really the first destination-resort in America. And it didn't wear that crown by chance. From the moment its doors swung open, it drew celebrities, dignitaries, statesmen, potentates, kings, queens, princes, and people whose names were splattered all over society pages. Guests arriving in those early days often had to wait in line to sign the guest register behind Hollywood stars like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert, Tyrone Power, Jane Russell, Van Johnson, and Ray Milland, or captains of industry such as Henry Ford. Or foreign royalty whose entourages took up dozens of guest rooms. The wood-and-stone architecture sits regally amidst the mountains of central Idaho, and the village of Sun Valley literally seems to sparkle on a sunny winter day...especially for skiers, many of whom come here every year. And the mountains bloom with a colorful kaleidoscope of wildflowers in spring and summer. The Spa is world-renowned (and you never know who you might see in there!). Dining? Here, you can choose from among twenty different options, ranging from the Roundhouse, at 7,700-foot altitude, to the Old-West-era Trail Creek Cabin, to ice cream and chocolate shops. At Sun Valley, you may never see more dramatic views. And you may never breathe fresher air.
#3 - PALACE HOTEL, SALIDA, COLORADO - Salida is an American classic...an Old West town with tree-lined streets and red-brick buildings with faded painted signs on the sides. There's actually still a "Five and Dime" store here...but no national coffee chains or department stores. The Palace Hotel, built in 1909, is one of those classic red-brick buildings. It sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, convenient to rafting, kayaking, rowing, and paddle-boarding opportunities. Not to mention hiking, biking, and mountain-climbing, too, because Salida is in the highest region in Colorado, with a dozen mountains over 14,000'. This regal and historic hotel brings alive the Old West, with all the amenities you'd expect in a hotel named The Palace. Here, there are thick, plush carpets, stairways with wooden handrails, antique lamps, Victorian sofas, and beautiful artwork everywhere you look. Each of the 15 faithfully-restored guest accommodations is a suite, with Tazo tea bags, eucalyptus linens, hand-made local soaps, and a well-stocked kitchenette. And - somewhat unusual for a building this age - each suite has its own climate-control. There's a Continental breakfast served in your room. And just walking these streets and browsing these shops is a joy. Salida has a long and colorful history, and some of those who helped make it - even though they passed on a century or two ago - have never really gone. So while you're here, be sure and take one of the ghost tours offered by Salida Walking Tours. You might just run into the infamous "Woman In the Window." Or the long-dead madam who still roams around her brothel. There's good skiing at nearby Monarch Mountain, and the hotel offers specials during the magnificent fall foliage season.
#2 - HOTEL NORTHLAND, AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION; GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - Hotel Northland, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, has been a brown-brick Green Bay landmark since 1924. When it opened, it was the largest hotel in Wisconsin. Today it remains an enduring example of Midwestern hospitality, while also boasting the modern touches travelers love. Hanging chandeliers, classic dark woods and Midwestern furniture, and antique period-pieces welcome guests into the public areas, while guest rooms are bright and airy and modern, in addition to offering great views of downtown Green Bay. Poke the Bear Restaurant features good old Midwestern specialties in a sports-focused atmosphere, while the Walnut Room, open since the hotel opened, has become a true local tradition. Afterward, you can work off your dinner at the hotel's fitness center. Over the years, Hotel Northland has welcomed a celebrity-studded list of visitors, among them President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and actor Lon Chaney. Today's guests also include the four-legged kind; pooches are welcome here. The hotel sits right in the middle of downtown Green Bay, close to shopping, museums, and excellent restaurants. And if you're a football fan, it's only a few blocks away from the local icon known as Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers - the only team in America actually owned by a community - take the field every Sunday in the fall. And if you've got the kids with you, be sure to schedule a trip to Bay Beach Amusement Park, also just a few blocks away.
And now, my choice for my Top Great Old Hotel In America:
#1 - HOTEL ANDALUZ, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - When the Hotel Andaluz opened in 1939, it immediately became the talk of the town. At ten stories high, it was the tallest building in New Mexico, as well as the first to have air-conditioning, and the first to have an elevator. The hotel had some royal bloodlines, as well. It was the fourth hotel built by a native New Mexican...name of Conrad Hilton. And it cost the then-stunning sum of $700,000. "Andaluz" is Spanish for Andalusia, Spain's southernmost region, and the hotel's design and furnishings reflect that region and its old history of Spanish and Moroccan cultures. Because of this bi-cultural mix, Hotel Andaluz is nothing if not eclectic. The guest rooms somehow manage to harmoniously combine both Old Spanish and Art Deco/moderne accents, for a very unique ambience. And the downstairs public spaces - particularly the lobby - may give new meaning to the term "eclectic." You enter the lobby past a floor-to-ceiling array of colored-glass panels, into a main area adorned in a Spanish/Moorish style reflective of Andalusia's unique history. This magnificent lobby has high, ornate wooden ceilings, along with hanging chandeliers, thick dark-wood columns, and stucco walls. The far wall contains six private spaces in Middle Eastern motifs, entered through rounded archways and thick draperies, and filled with Moorish-style lamps and carpets and plush sitting spaces and decor. The Andaluz was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. And it's also gained another noteworthy distinction over the years. Not unlike a few of the other hotels noted here, it's been named (by numerous guests) as a place where it's not unusual to bump into ghosts (former guests) in the night!
Well, these are my Top 5 Great Old Hotels In America. Do you have any favorites? Let us know!