Staying at a luxurious hotel while exploring the United States makes for a wonderful experience. However, when that hotel has a storied past, it can make your stay even more exciting. Even if you aren't a history buff, you may appreciate knowing that you stayed in the same room and wandered the same halls as a famous dignitary, Hollywood celebrity, revered author, or even a former President of the United States.
Here are the five most beautiful historic hotels in the United States:
The Peabody Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
This historic hotel is famous for its exceptional customer service and timelessly elegant rooms. However, The Peabody is better known for its web-footed residents. You can watch the famous Peabody Duck March twice a day. This is when the adorable ducks walk along a red carpet towards the fountain in the lobby. There, they'll usually take a dip in the waters.
Ducks have been residents at the Peabody since the 1930s, when the general manager and a friend placed some live duck decoys in the fountain as a prank after a hunting trip.
Today's Peabody Memphis retains its ornate beauty. In 2019, major renovations brought Carrara marble tile floors, quartz vanities, and plush decor to each room. These gorgeous rooms are the perfect place to put your feet up after exploring nearby Graceland or visiting the historical sites in Memphis.
When you're hungry, check out the Memphis BBQ scene at famed restaurants like Rendezvous Ribs. BBQ not your style? Enjoy an elegant meal at The Peabody's French restaurant, Chez Philippe. Of course, you won't find any duck on the menu.
Southernmost House Hotel, Key West, Florida
Located in the heart of Key West's historic Old Town District on Duval Street, the adults-only Southernmost House caters to beach-lovers and sun-worshipers who prefer restored mansions to resort-style hotels. The original structure, built by the prominent Harris family in 1897, was designed as a one-room Queen Anne Victorian mansion.
Thomas Edison oversaw the building's original electrical design and installation work. During Prohibition, the Southernmost House served as a speakeasy. The speakeasy catered to mafia dons and the Hollywood elite who visited on their way to Havana, Cuba. Meanwhile, in the 1940s, the mansion hosted a Cuban–themed night club. Famous residents and visitors to Key West such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and Charles Lindbergh were known to enjoy a cocktail or two there.
It has hosted several foreign dignitaries and more than 20 American presidents over the years. Today, you can book one of several luxurious rooms and suites at this Key West boutique hotel.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
The opulent Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is one of the most renowned summer resort hotels in the world.
You can only reach the island by plane or boat, and no cars are allowed on the island. This makes the Grand Hotel the perfect summer getaway for anyone who wants to walk, bike, or explore the surroundings by horse-drawn carriage.
With about 400 guest rooms, the Grand Hotel has plenty of space for guests. It has hosted dozens of notables over the years, including Robert DeNiro, Madonna, and several Supreme Court Justices and American presidents. Mark Twain was the hotel's first notable guest when he lectured at the casino in 1895.
The Plaza Hotel, New York, New York
Nestled on the south end of New York City's Central Park, The Plaza Hotel was built in 1907 and remains a popular luxury destination today. You've most likely seen its ornate, spacious lobby in one of several movies filmed on location, such as North by Northwest, The Way We Were, Home Alone 2, and The Great Gatsby.
The Plaza has also hosted countless dignitaries, celebrities, and famed business leaders over the years, such as John Lennon, Conrad Hilton, Truman Capote, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It remains a popular location for society events like charity balls and fundraisers.
Additionally, every American president since William Howard Taft has made at least one visit to the Plaza. When you stay at the stunning Plaza Hotel, not only will you be living the high life, but you will also be experiencing the best New York City has to offer.
The Miami Biltmore, Coral Gables, Florida
The sprawling, 15-acre Miami Biltmore Hotel and Country Club, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1926. The hotel's tower was designed as a recreation of the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. The main structure is reminiscent of Mediterranean Renaissance–era architecture, with several balconies, ornate terrazzos, and tile floors.
In the 1920s, the magnificent gala to celebrate the hotel's opening was the social event of the year. The new hotel drew notable guests such as Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Franklin Roosevelt, and Al Capone. During World War II, however, the luxury hotel was converted into an army hospital. The building remained a Veteran's Administration Hospital until the City of Coral Gables restored it to its former glory in the 1980s.
The modern Biltmore also underwent a more recent $40 million dollar renovation. In 2008, a championship golf club was added. At this historic destination, you'll get to relax by one of the largest hotel pools in the United States. Be sure to take a stroll along the perfectly landscaped terrain. You'll see lush tropical flora and fauna as well as stunning banyan trees.
Although you'll be close to all of Miami's most popular museums, shopping establishments, and dining destinations, don't rule out a visit to Coral Gables. George Merrick, who designed and built the Biltmore, also designed many of the buildings in Coral Gables. In fact, the entire historic section of the city boasts the same stately appeal as the hotel. Coral Gables, dubbed the "The City Beautiful," has a thriving, European–style downtown area filled with extensive shopping, dining, and retail destinations.
Feature photo credit: alexeys/ iStock