5 Historic Hotels in the U.S. Worth Visiting

There are thousands of hotels operating in the United States today, but historic hotels still in operation are less common. While plenty of grand vacation destinations have come and gone over the years, some luxury hotels have become iconic staples of their respective locations. Sites like the Beverly Hills Hotel in California or the Peabody Hotel in Tennessee can play a significant role in a city’s image. Many can boast of wealthy, famous and influential guests, important events and iconic luxury. The list below describes five luxurious historic hotels in the U.S. worth visiting.

1.    The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California

How old is the Beverly Hills Hotel? It existed before the city of Beverly Hills did. The area was developed in 1906. The hotel was completed in 1912 and began attracting hotel visitors. Enough visitors chose to relocate to the area that by 1914, the city of Beverly Hills was officially incorporated.

The Beverly Hills Hotel has attracted major starpower since it opened, housing guests such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in its luxurious accommodations.

When it was first announced, hotel owner Margaret Anderson told The Los Angeles Times that the hotel would operate under the motto that guests are “entitled to the best of everything, regardless of cost.”

The hotel’s hayday dovetailed with the golden era of Hollywood, as everyone from Fred Astaire to Elizabeth Taylor came to enjoy its accommodations. The Beverly Hills Hotel was the site of films such as the 1963 comedy “Who’s Sleeping In My Bed?” starring Dean Martin and the 1978 comedy “California Suite” starring Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and more.

However, it attracted more than just Hollywood — President Richard Nixon’s chief of staff and presidential aide were having breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel when they learned of the infamous Watergate break-in. Today, this luxury hotel offers rooms beginning at $695 a night and going up to $10,000 nightly.

2.    The Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York

The first Plaza Hotel came up almost as fast as it went down. Construction began in 1883 and finished in 1890. However, it was demolished in 1905 by new owners to make way for a much larger hotel in its place. The far more opulent Plaza Hotel reopened in October 1907 to great success.

Rooms at the Plaza Hotel were initially available at a price of $2.50 a night, cheap even by 1907 standards. A room today costs at least $805 a night, with prices rising quickly.

Famous celebrities, authors and designers have all stayed in the luxurious Plaza Hotel. Zelda Fitzgerald and F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed at the hotel so often, there is now a Fitzgerald suite on the 18th floor named after them. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor — Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson — held their anniversary celebration at the hotel in 1946. The Beatles famously stayed in the hotel in 1964 when they arrived for their first U.S. tour while a mob of fans camped outside (that chaos ensured that the Beatles would never again be welcome at the Plaza).

Inside the Royal Plaza Suite, the best room in the building, is a secret panel for guests to sneak out of the hotel.

3.    The Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida

The Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida was designed by George Merrick. In 1924, after spending years developing the Coral Gables neighborhood as well as the University of Miami, Merrick decided the area needed a fantastic luxury hotel to attract crowds and develop Miami’s scene.

However, soon after the building opened, a hurricane and the Miami land bust tore through the hotel. Merrick declared bankruptcy in 1929, and the bank was purchased by new owners. It stayed open as a fashionable hotel that attracted athletes, the wealthy and the famous until 1942.

During World War II, the building was converted to the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. It remained under the control of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs until 1968. It eventually came under the ownership of the city of Coral Gables.

After several years and much debate, the city finally decided to restore and reopen the Biltmore Hotel as a luxury hotel. It shut down one more time in 1990 in response to more economic hardship. However, it was purchased again in 1992 and reopened. In 1996, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It has housed guests such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and has been the subject of both ghost stories and Miami gang stories. Today, guests interested in visiting the Biltmore Hotel in Miami can stay for as little as $254 a night or as much as $789 a night, depending on the suite selected.

4.    The Omni Parker House in Boston, Massachusetts

For a true historic experience, visit the Omni Parker House in Boston, Massachusetts. The original building was built in 1855, then torn down in the mid-1920s and replaced with a more modern building.

However, one wing of the building remained open during demolition and construction, allowing the Omni Parker House to claim oldest continuously operating hotel.

Another claim to fame: the Boston Cream Pie was invented in the hotel by its head chef as a signature dessert to serve guests. Today, the pie is the official Massachusetts state dessert.

Throughout its history, the Omni Parker House has served as a comfortable retreat for numerous powerful figures. John F. Kennedy announced his run for congress and proposed to his wife within the hotel’s walls. The Saturday Club, a collection of eminent scholars, authors and poets including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used to meet regularly at the hotel. Charles Dickens held a room several months — today, the hotel still possesses his mirror and the original door to his guest room.

You can book a room at the Omni Parker House today and enjoy its hallowed halls for as little as $150 a night or as much as $875 a night, depending on what room you choose and what time of year you visit.

5.    The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee is the only hotel on this list where you can visit in-house ducks. The tradition of a small collection of ducks within the hotel dates back to the 1930s, when the general manager chose to allow three English Call Duck decoys in the fountain. Motivated by guest excitement, they began allowing five Mallard ducks to play in the fountain daily. A “duck palace” is kept on the rooftop for the ducks to live in.

Although the ducks are certainly a claim to fame, the Peabody Hotel’s history goes further.

 First built in 1869, the hotel was an elegant and luxurious retreat in the south. In the late 1870s, during the height of the Yellow Fever epidemic, the Peabody remained open to serve as a hospital, but resumed hotel activities by the 1880s. It hosted both President Andrew Johnson and President William McKinley.

In 1923, it closed down to move over one block. The building was demolished, and the new Peabody Memphis was opened in 1925, made modern and more luxurious. The hotel continued for some time, but declined as the Memphis area did.

In 1973 it closed once more, opening for a few months under a new owner before folding again in 1975. After another sale and a major renovation, the hotel made a grand reopening in 1981. Since then, it has continued to operate, serving as an enduring cultural marker of the south.

Today, you can book a room at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis for as little as $239 a night or as much as $500 a night, depending on the room.