These are America’s most historic hotels


America may be a relatively young nation but many of its hotels offer fascinating glimpses into the past. From storied coastal inns to city venues steeped in legend, these are the most historic hotels in the USA.



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During the Prohibition era, the DeSoto housed notorious gangster and rum-runner Al Capone. Local mechanic Sherman Helmey would fix up the felon’s moonshine-carrying motors as he passed through town, and Capone would relax in the glorious surrounds of the DeSoto while he waited. Though still located in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District, the hotel has a distinctly modern feel today: a lobby art gallery and a creative craft cocktail bar are brilliant contemporary touches.



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Over the years, the hotel has played host to notables such as Dick Martin and trumpeter Clyde McCoy, as well as Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Elizabeth Taylor. The English-Renaissance interiors have been admired since their initial design and are still gloriously preserved, particularly in the lobby. Old-world touches in the rooms, such as mahogany bed heads and upholstered furnishings, keep a feeling of the past alive.



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The hotel performed a Christmas miracle when in 1904 it became the first place to light up an outdoor tree with electrics. It has a hand in US politics too: numerous presidents have rested their heads here (Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, to name a couple), while Richard Nixon held the first state dinner ever outside the White House at The Del. Today, the wooden lobby has barely changed in over a century and the downstairs store contains historic exhibits related to the hotel.



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The Breakers hasn’t escaped its tragedies though. The hotel has been razed to the ground twice in its history: once in 1903, during yet another enlargement, and again in 1925. Each time, it was built up bigger and better than before. The structure that stands today dates to 1926. It’s a rambling Italian Renaissance building with frescoes painted by Florentine artists and an entrance fountain inspired by Boboli Gardens. It remains a premier golf destination too.



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It was in 1933 that the storied Blue Bar opened, watering Round Table members, as well as other literary, theater and Hollywood legends over the years. American caricaturist Al Hirschfeld was a regular punter. The most famous drink on the menu is the $10,000 martini, which comes with a real diamond glittering at the bottom of the glass.



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The hotel, however, closed again in 1974, as the surrounding area fell into decline. It was in very recent history indeed that the Battle House was reborn once more: in 2007, the hotel, painstakingly restored, opened its doors with an elaborate opening ceremony. Now nicknamed ‘Mobile’s living room’, it is again a welcoming place for locals, visiting notables and tourists alike.



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With fairground horses adorning the ceiling, the Carousel Room was one of the most unique watering holes in the city. Today, the bar is known as chic Oliver’s Room (pictured). Over the years, many dignitaries have stayed at the hotel too: Franklin D. Roosevelt penned his inaugural speech here and Winston Churchill attended a state dinner here in 1945.



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The Victorian Lobby, the handiwork of Giles, has been restored and updated with homage to its original state. Though no longer serving as the main lobby, this three-story atrium wows with its eight Corinthian columns and a blue-hued skylight, installed in 1909. The Menger Bar is a historic spot for a nightcap: it was built in 1887 to resemble London’s House of Lords Pub, and from here Theodore Roosevelt recruited many of his ‘Rough Riders’, the first United States Volunteer Cavalry.



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39/39 SLIDES

About Antoinette G. Tucker

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