Everybody has their “thing” when it comes to travel. For some, it’s sampling local brews at the best bar in town or biking the thoroughfares and trails. For others, like Carson, it’s standing atop the tallest building the city or devouring the best doughnut. Mine? Frozen yogurt shops. But the one penchant we share is visiting fancy old hotels. Here’s six that have made our list so far; we’re hoping to at least double this number by the time our trip is over!
Penn Wells, Wellsboro, PA
This hotel may look unassuming from the outset, but you’ll appreciate the history of the place once you waltz through the formal dining room, admiring black and white framed photos of Wellsboro more than 100 years ago. The hotel has kept its original charm, including some furniture and fixtures that were probably there when it first opened. Order a beer at the bar and appreciate that some things never change.
Jerome Grand Hotel, Jerome, AZ
The promise of panoramic views overlooking the Verde Valley drew us to the Jerome Grand Hotel; its elevation is just shy of a mile high. But its architecture, towering second story balcony and haunted history compelled us to stay a bit longer. Turns out the hotel was once a hospital and sanitarium and offers year-round ghost tours for those who love the paranormal.
The Jefferson, Richmond, VA
The gem of the South, the Jefferson Hotel is the epitome of class. Its towering marble columns, ornate carpet and grandiose staircase (which is host to many a prom photo, I’m sure) will make you feel like one fancy lady. Get a drink at the bar and enjoy the complimentary smoky peanuts and olives. And if you’re like us, just take your paper coaster with you. You know, to remind you of the finer things in life.
The Peabody, Memphis, TN
Another fancy old hotel in the heart of the Dixieland, the Peabody checks all the boxes on our old hotel list: fancy lobby, comfy chairs, signature cocktails, and … ducks. Yep, stick around the for duck march as the live mallards in the lobby’s fountain line up and follow their duck master into the hotel elevator and up to their duck mansion on the roof. And check out Carson’s story on the Peabody Duck Master for audubon.com!
The Balsams, Dixville Notch, NH
To be fair, we did not step foot inside the historic Balsams Hotel. And for good reason: it’s undergoing massive renovations by ski mogul Les Otten and his industrious team. But we did get to visit a few of the “houses” on the property, including where they host the famous Dixville Notch midnight voting each presidential primary. We’re looking forward to seeing what the new Balsams looks like when it opens sometime in 2017!
The Giacomo, Niagara Falls, NY
While lots of people stay at one of the casino hotels or on the more developed Canadian side, we strolled past the Giacomo on a whim the night we visited the falls. We saw a cool old building and walked toward it, that simple. What we didn’t anticipate was meeting two very friendly staff who let us up to the lounge for night views of the falls and shared some history with us, like the fact that Marilyn Monroe stayed there while filming Niagara. Cool.
The Belvedere, Baltimore, MD
This Beaux arts building in the heart of Baltimore truthfully made our list because of The Owl bar, a bar that epitomizes industrial chic style with all the hints of history and class that comes with an establishment that has slung drinks to Andrew Carnegie, Clark Gable and F Scott Fitzgerald.
Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
Simply one of our favorite places in all of America, this stone clad historic hotel has stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and downtown Asheville. Step out onto the Veranda and sip a gin and tonic and take in the breathtaking views. And if you get chilly, head inside and grab a rocking chair by one of the grand fireplaces.