If you are like me, you love a good luxury stay, but sometimes you crave more than just everything being top quality and dreamy. I am a history buff, and it always excites me when I can incorporate a stay at one of the Historic Hotels of America properties. Historic Hotels of America was created in 1989 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with 35 charter members and today has over 300 historic hotels.
These historic properties are selected due to their commitment to preservation, sense of place, historical significance, and architectural integrity. Here are my 10 favorite historic hotels to experience in the United States.
As a travel writer, I am often hosted by a property to have experiences to write about. I was hosted by all these hotels except #4 and #10. As always, opinions and reviews are 100 percent mine and unbiased.
1. 21C Museum Hotel Lexington By MGallery
I’m enamored by the 21C Museum Hotel brand. Originating in Louisville, this local chain combines incredible contemporary art with stylish furniture and decor in a historic property refurbished to its grandeur. I’ve stayed in six of them, but the 21C Museum Hotel Lexington is my top pick. You can’t beat the location, and the views from the oversized windows afford excellent photos and a gorgeous nighttime setting.
Expect premium toiletries, original artwork, and fun, colorful penguins that make special appearances throughout the hotel that was once the Fayette National Bank Building. 21C Hotels also have a free rotating art gallery that will astound you, even if you aren’t a hotel guest.
2. The Omni Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina
Staying at the Omni Grove Park Inn is a dream and a bucket list item for many. The classic and iconic hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, has an award-winning Donald Ross golf course, one of the best spas (43,000 square feet) in the nation, indoor and outdoor pools, premium shopping, and a long list of sensational restaurants.
The choices for room types at the Omni Grove Park Inn are the most extensive I’ve ever seen. I would choose a basic room since there are so many beautiful things to see and do in the hotel and town that you probably won’t be in there much.
Pro Tip: Reserve a table at Sunset Terrace for a memorable meal and a magnificent sunset. If you’ve never tried Miyazaki beef, I encourage you to.
3. The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a magical hilltop village in the Ozark Mountains. Your visit should include a night at the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, also known as “America’s Most Haunted Hotel.” The Crescent Hotel & Spa proudly stands on the mountain top and has a warm, welcoming lobby with a lovely fireplace. The hotel offers the Crystal Room, an upscale restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and the Sky Bar pizza parlor on the 4th floor, offering indoor and outdoor seating with incredible views. Pamper yourself in the New Moon Salon and Spa.
Whether you are a hotel guest or not, you can take a thrilling ghost tour. Tickets are $27.50 for adults and sell out quickly.
Pro Tip: Get your map at the front desk and check out the walking trails that take you through some of the prettiest parts of town.
4. Hotel Monteleone
New Orleans, Louisiana
My husband and I have enjoyed the affordable Hotel Monteleone property since the early 2000s. It is in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has a unique feature — a revolving carousel bar. Rooms are middle of the road leaning toward luxury, but the gorgeous hotel and its well-known Carousel Bar are the reasons to stay here. Try the pina colada, made over ice instead of frozen. It is fantastic! Hotel Monteleone uses the tagline “luxurious rooms with a timeless style,” which says it best.
Pro Tip: While safety is always a top priority in New Orleans, I feel comfortable recommending you to stay at this property. Keep on the well-lit busier streets to avoid pickpockets and always be aware of your surroundings.
5. Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Open since 1927 (originally the Heidelberg Hotel), the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center is a stately hotel in downtown Baton Rouge located steps away from the Mississippi River. The historic hotel underwent a $70 million renovation that positions it with any historic hotel anywhere. I love the spacious and stylish rooms and gorgeous Art Deco lobby. You can’t beat this timeless, elegant property for convenience to most of Baton Rouge’s top attractions, and it’s easy to get to. Brace yourself: It is thought that the hotel is haunted, and several claims have backed this idea. If you smell cigar smoke on the 10th floor, chalk it up to the ghost of Huey Long, one of Louisiana’s most colorful characters and well-known politicians.
Fun Fact: Famous guests of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center include Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, and Fidel Castro.
6. The DeSoto
Savannah, Georgia, is a beautiful city to visit year-round. A place that will make your stay even more incredible is the DeSoto Savannah, in an excellent centralized location with valet parking. The DeSoto has a picture-perfect lobby, Proof & Provision restaurant, and Buffalo Bayou lobby bar for quick breakfast bites, coffee, tea, and snacks. Proof & Provision is a heavy hitter in Savannah with Southern comfort food dishes and incredible craft cocktails. It offers indoor and outdoor seating.
My hotel room was light and airy, with a nice desk work area, double-headed shower, and down-filled duvets and pillows. I had a small balcony that overlooked the jewel of Savannah — the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
Pro Tip: Bring a bathing suit and take advantage of the beautiful outdoor pool area.
7. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
Cincinnati is cram-packed with fun things to see and do. I can’t imagine staying anywhere other than the 1931 French Art-Deco Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, a historic hotel in the heart of town and within walking distance of football and baseball games. This stunning hotel’s history could fill a whole book, as it has made its mark during the Golden Era like few others.
Rooms are spacious and done in black, white, and shades of gray, which goes with the style of the hotel. My favorite parts are the Hall of Mirrors (third floor), and the award-winning Orchid’s at Palm Court Restaurant, which I’ve heard is the top-grossing Hilton restaurant in the country.
FYI: Read more about the glorious history of this hotel on the Historic Hotels of America page.
8. The Mimslyn Inn
I drove through the town of Luray once and stopped for coffee and a sweet treat. After laying eyes on the Mimslyn Inn, I knew I must come back and stay at the historic hotel, which I did. Mimslyn Inn’s landmark hotel has a gift shop, two on-site restaurants, and a picturesque swimming pool. They also have adorable cottages in the back, where I stayed.
Our cottage had modern furnishings, a fantastic soaking tub with a separate shower, and a fireplace in the living room. Two chairs on the front porch offered great views of the Shenandoah Valley. Luray is a peaceful town with the Luray Caverns and the Shenandoah National Park entrance nearby.
Try to squeeze in a meal from Speakeasy Restaurant & Bar, which has tasty food and often live entertainment.
9. The Graylyn Estate
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Transport yourself to Europe at The Graylyn Estate, a hidden gem with 55 acres in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My jaw nearly hit the ground when I pulled up in front of what looked like a medieval castle. Graylyn Estate has lovely rooms with contemporary touches and stylish accent pieces but still preserves the age and grace of the charming old property. Wander the scenic grounds, enjoy a meal in one of the common rooms or via room service, and have a nightcap in the basement bar during your stay in this one-of-a-kind property.
Schedule a tour of the estate with Kathleen, an excellent guide who will have you hanging on every word about Graylyn Estate.
Pro Tip: Learn where the 24-hour free ice cream cooler is.
10. The Peabody
One of my favorite Historic Hotels of America properties with a unique feature is The Peabody Memphis. When you step into the hotel lobby, floor-to-ceiling dark wood tones and elegance are the first things that jump out at you. Then, you can stroll from an upscale shop (including Lansky Bros. Clothier to The King) to an impressive souvenir shop or sip a craft-made cocktail in the stately and stunning lobby bar.
Whether your journey brings you to The Peabody to stay, play, eat a meal, or just because you are curious, stick around to see the incredible ducks perform their daily ritual. The famous Peabody ducks live on the rooftop but grace you with their presence as they march down the hall and take a swim in the beautiful lobby fountain.
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