Iowa is home to several unique and historic hotels. Each of these properties owns a slice of Iowa history and makes for a memorable stay. I hope you will book a stay at some of these one-of-a-kind properties. Relive a period of time as you enjoy the modern amenities that each property has to offer. Each Iowa town shares their pride and joy with all guests. Once you set foot in one of these unique hotels, you will find yourself immersed in the experience. These moderately priced properties are in the $125 to $175 range per night or lower.
Historic Park Inn
The Historic Park Inn is located in Mason City. It is the last remaining hotel in the world that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In 2011, a major renovation project was completed, and guests can now experience this hotel. This property is an architectural wonder, and it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The windows, doorways, lighting, and Prairie School stained glass are standard throughout. In the original hotel, there were 41 rooms and shared bathrooms between guest rooms.
In the restored hotel, the original outlines of the bathrooms remain. There are now 27 modern hotel rooms for guests to stay in. Rooms are moderately priced with free parking. You can also expect to find a lounge with an adjoining wine room and billiards room. Before you leave Mason City, take a photo of the Historic Park Inn from the center of Central Park.
Hotel Julien is located in the heart of the Old Main District in Dubuque. This historic hotel has hosted many guests through the years, including Abraham Lincoln, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and Mark Twain. Through the years, Hotel Julien has been a gathering place for Dubuque residents and visitors alike. In 2009, a major renovation project was completed in all of the interior spaces as 168 rooms were converted into 133 luxury rooms and suites, along with the restoration of the historic lobby and Grande Ballroom. The modern amenities bring sophistication together with history. The beautiful architecture has remained through the years and offers a historical night of lodging for all guests.
Dine at Caroline’s Restaurant, as it is a large part of the history of Hotel Julien. Caroline (Rhomberg) Fischer was the great-great-grandmother of the three cousins who manage Fischer Companies and Hotel Julien today. It’s important to note that the rear entrance next to the parking lot and the front entrance on Main Street are accessible spaces. Rooms are moderately priced, and parking is free for guests.
Hotel Winneshiek is the premier hotel in Decorah. In case you don’t know, Decorah is home to Nordic Fest, which salutes Scandinavian heritage. This hotel is part of a thriving Main Street full of shops, restaurants, galleries, parks, and museums. It is home to the historic Opera House that features its original tin walls and ceiling. You will have all of the amenities of the 21st century when you stay here. But once you set foot in the front lobby, you will feel as though you have taken a step back in time to the 19th century.
In the year 2000, Hotel Winneshiek was restored, and the rooms are stunning. When you enter the hotel to check in, you will immediately notice the stunning architecture. The Winneshiek Hotel prides itself on the fact that it is Decorah’s only full-service hotel. Small plates and a selection of Iowa craft beers can be found at the Hotel Winneshiek Bar. This unique property offers moderately priced rooms and free parking.
Hotel Grinnell is an excellent example of repurposing a building for future use. This building was a junior high school from 1921 until the late 1970s. There are now 45 guest rooms with hardwood floors and high ceilings. The nostalgia of junior high school has been carried over into this unique property. Rooms have chalkboards and a wooden red apple. It’s not uncommon to find furniture that has been made from old lockers in the former school. From the outside, this hotel looks like a school, but once you set foot inside, you will have all of the amenities of a hotel in the 21st century.
Where else can you fall asleep in a classroom and not miss the lesson of the day? Hotel Grinnell offers a fun, cozy, and unique place to hang your hat for the night. The Queen Loft is a favorite, as it provides top-of-the-line amenities, including luxury bathrobes and interesting art. These moderately priced rooms, along with free parking, will offer a fun way to relive your junior high school days.
Hotel Ottumwa is located in Ottumwa near bustling Main Street. This historic hotel is in the Neoclassical style, which was conceived by a famous architectural firm. The exterior of this well-known building is dark brown with terracotta throughout. I found the hotel to be beautiful yet simple. With 61 rooms, Hotel Ottumwa can meet the needs of every type of traveler. These accommodations include standard rooms, extended stay, whirlpool suites, and family suites. A full-service, made-to-order breakfast is included with your stay here. The Tom-Tom Tap is a traditional 1950s-style hotel lounge that is sure to brighten your day. Even if you don’t want to eat or drink, swing into this lounge to see the magnificent artwork. Rooms are affordably priced with free hotel parking nearby. Dine at the Canteen Lunch in the Alley for a world-famous canteen sandwich before you leave town.
Perry is home to Hotel Pattee. This property is known as one of the finest historic boutique hotels in the world. With 40 individually decorated and themed guest rooms and a state of the art bowling center, and a spa, you will find something that entices you. This historic hotel dates back to 1912 when Harry Pattee and his brother William announced that they would build a three-story hotel to honor their father David Jackson (DJ) Pattee. The hotel would not be completed until 1913 after DJ Pattee passed away. Throughout the years, it has been renovated several times. Today it is a destination hotel in itself.
The rooms are themed in Bohemian, Irish, Telital, Welsh, and there’s even a Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)-themed room for bicycle fans. It consistently earns awards in the hospitality industry for top-notch customer service. Iowa’s High Trestle Trail is nearby, and many bicyclists come to Perry to ride the bike trails. This unique property is a winner for anyone who stays here. If you need an accessible room, call ahead to be sure they have one available.
The Black Hawk Hotel
The Black Hawk Hotel is located in downtown Cedar Falls and is sure to win you over. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been updated through the years to meet the needs of today’s traveler. The Black Hawk Hotel is also the oldest continuously operated hotel in the country. When you arrive in the downtown area from the east, you will notice the Black Hawk Hotel, as it has some unique architectural features that you will not find on other buildings in the area. This unique property offers 28 historic guest rooms and 15 retro-mod motel rooms. These 43 rooms offer historic charm accompanied by modern amenities. You can expect luxury linens and period furniture and antiques in your room.
Several boutiques, flower shops, restaurants, and bars are within walking distance of the hotel on Cedar Falls’ dynamic Main Street. George Wyth State Park is nearby and offers hiking and biking trails for the nature lover. Stroll Main Street and search for the sculptures that line the street. The art on Main Street is an Iowa treasure, as it has a little of everything.
Each of these historic hotels in Iowa offers something unique that you won’t find elsewhere. I hope you book a stay at one of these properties and experience all they have to offer. Most importantly, allow yourself to be immersed in each hotel’s history. Imagine that Frank Lloyd Wright is sleeping in the room next to you at the Park Inn Hotel or dream about your school days while in Grinnell.