Whether it’s national leaders signing peace treaties, famous celebrities hiding away or reclusive geniuses penning great works of literature, hotels have long provided the perfect home away from home for those trailblazers on the road. And while you may view a hotel room as just a place where you dump your luggage as you traipse around a new city, some spots have an amazing log of history written into its core that make those tightly tucked sheets a little more interesting. Put on your history caps and get ready to dive back in time as we take a look at some of the hotels with the wackiest pasts!
Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California
Said to be the inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s whimsical The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Hotel del Coronado has so much history that it enlists the help of a full-time historian that guests can while away the hours with. Inspiring this magical world is only a piece of its past, though, as the hotel has also hosted the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, F. Scott Fitzgerald and nearly every US president since its founding. It was built in 1888 and has many colorful stories to tell – so many, in fact, that the hotel became a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Place yourself in its story with a calming walk around the grounds or even a night’s stay!
Baur au Lac in Zurich, Switzerland
Feeling royal? Then you just might fancy a stay at the family-run Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1844, Johannes Baur opened the lakefront property as a luxury retreat for the world’s royalty. From Russian czars to Austrian Empresses to the modern British royal family, the Baur au Lac has seen it all. It was even the place where Alfred Nobel was convinced of the need for a Nobel Peace Prize by Bertha von Suttner. Located on the edge of beautiful Lake Zurich, the gardens that surround the premises offer tranquility and secrecy for the royals that reside within.
The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia
For all you history nerds, this hotel holds the most American legend. For more than 200 years, this colonial mansion has welcomed guests, though the opening of a mountain road in 1830 made the journey more doable for weary travelers. During the Civil War, the hotel was closed to make a sort of bipartisan hospital, as both Confederate and Union forces occupied the massive grounds during the conflict. Since then, The Greenbrier’s penchant for history and hospitality has become renowned, attracting politicians and civilians alike.
Ashford Castle Hotel in Mayo, Ireland
Dating back to 1228, this huge estate was built as the principal stronghold for the Anglo-Saxon de Burgo family, though it has only been a hotel since 1939. The giant fortress, now a luxurious vacation, has unsurprisingly drawn in a celebrity crowd – its guest list is crowded with famous names like Ronald Reagan, U2, Brad Pitt, Tony Blair, John Wayne… The list goes on. Fun fact: the castle was bought in 1852 by the Guinness family, meant to be used as a family estate.
The Plaza in New York City, New York
The Plaza Hotel has served as the home for many literary greats – as well as for their literary characters. From the 1955 book Eloise to the great American classic The Great Gatsby to 1992 blockbuster Home Alone 2, The Plaza has served as ample inspiration for the country’s creative minds. Since opening its doors in 1907, The Plaza has become a New York City landmark, a place that is opulent, luxurious and classic – like the city it resides in and the art it has inspired.
Omni Parker House in Boston, Massachusetts
The Omni Parker House is known for being the longest continually operating hotel in the country and has a long storied history with hosting intellectuals and literary minds. Opened in 1855, the hotel serves up Old World charm and a fantastic list of famous guests. The fabled Saturday Club met at the Omni Parker, with writers such as Longfellow, Thoreau, Emerson and Hawthorne regularly in attendance. Charles Dickens noticed the hotel’s inspirational happenings and chose to live there when he came to America on a lecture tour.
Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming
In the late 1800s, the land belonged to homesteaders looking to make a better life out West. By 1884, the land was settled and the original framework for the ranch that exists today was laid. While it used to cater to the weary traveler just looking to get off the road, when the owners saw how many people were coming to experience authentic ranch life, the idea to curate a luxury dude ranch took off. Since the 1990s, the Brush Creek Ranch aims to show visitors the heart of a working Wyoming ranch.
Are there any historical hotels that we left out? Let us know in the comments!