More travellers and holidaymakers are searching for digs with character over run-of-the-mill facilities — versed architecture, vintage décor, and perennial furniture. To this end, historic hotels in particular are emblazoning their mark among the discerning public. Immutable, they have withstood the test of time, and above all, their old stones have legendary tales to tell. Every room contains memories of the personalities and successive generations who have survived them.
Sure, you'll find hundreds of hotels and inns on listing sites—most of which offer exceptional service and wonderful amenities—but why not choose a historic site for your own staycation? Some of the coolest, most historic hotels still stand today. And while some of them have undergone drastic cosmetic transformation, many, surprisingly, have hardly changed at all. Be it for their aesthetic proportions or outstanding artistry, they are universally held to embody the true spirit of an age. Rising from ashes and rubble, these soulful edifices have stood the test of time for over 100 years.
1. Gstaad Palace Outdoor Olympic Pool
A longtime favorite of international travelers, celebrities, and even royalty, Gstaad Palace is nestled in sweeping valleys surrounded by the Swiss Alps. The last family-owned hotel in Switzerland, the Palace was opened in 1913 to cater to the affluent clientele visiting the exclusive Alpine ski town. Today, the hotel boasts five distinct dining venues, The Palace Spa, and an Olympic-sized outdoor pool.
2. Hotel Caesar Augustus Estate
Dating from ancient Roman times, Hotel Caesar Augustus was once home to Russian Prince Emmanuel Bullak before being sold to the Signorini family in the 1930s (who turned the villa into a hotel). Today, Hotel Caesar Augustus remains in the hands of the third generation of the Signorini family, who continues to showcase the remarkable beauty and history in the form of a stunning hotel.
3. Omni Bedford Springs Resort
Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, the historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort couples charm and luxury with premier hospitality services and amenities. Since its opening as a hotel in 1806, the resort has drawn a variety of guests searching for the relaxing and healing properties of the property's eight natural springs, which were visited by Native Americans for centuries. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984, the resort hosted 10 U.S. Presidents—seven of whom visited during their presidency—and housed various other historic figures (such as Japanese diplomats captured in Germany during World War II).
4. Dream South Beach
Once known as two legendary hotels, The Tudor Hotel and Palmer House (1939), Dream South Beach is a Miami architectural icon. The buildings were created by master architect Lawrence Murray Dixon, who was responsible for designing some of the most popular Art Deco style hotels in Miami Beach. Following a multi-million dollar renovation, the two buildings were united in the summer of 2011 to create the Dream South Beach hotel. The Dream South Beach now offers 107 rooms/suites including the Shala Spa, and two highly acclaimed dining and nightlife venues: Naked Taco, a cheeky restaurant serving inventive Mexican fare; and HIGHBAR, a playful 1970s-themed rooftop lounge fitted with an infinity pool and jaw-dropping Atlantic Ocean views.
5. The InterContinental New York Barclay
The InterContinental New York Barclay is considered one of New York City's grande dame hotels, and has epitomized the stylish elegance of Manhattan society since its opening in 1926. Built by Elliott and John Cross, The Barclay is the last of the four original "railroad hotels" built around Grand Central Terminal. The most prominent of tenants throughout the years include Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, Ernest Hemingway, and President Bill Clinton. Beginning in 2014, The Barclay went through a $180 million, 20-month renovation that revitalized and rebuilt every aspect of the property, whilst maintaining the old-world elegance of the original hotel. The property has a brand new bar and restaurant, The Gin Parlour, which has 88 gins behind the bar, establishing the legendary property as New York's arbiter of gin.
6. Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Park Inn is an enchanting property in the heart of beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Opened in 1913 with the help of more than 400 men, The Inn has been serving guests for over 100 years. With the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop for this luxurious retreat, the property now houses an award-winning, 43,000-square-foot subterranean Spa and boasts 10 on-site dining options, including Vue 1913, an American Brasserie, and The Sunset Terrace, offering breathtaking views of sunsets over the Blue Ridge Mountains. During the holiday months, The Omni Grove Park Inn is home to the nation's largest and most-anticipated, National Gingerbread House Competition, which draws hundreds of contestants from all over the U.S. to compete for a grand prize.
7. The Dolder Grand Flugaufnahme
Opening its doors in 1899, The Dolder Grand has been iconic since its inception. Through its history, the Dolder hosted members of the European royal families who were looking to escape from the unrest of the World Wars, welcomed iconic guests including Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, and even played a role in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Today, guests are still welcomed by the resort's historic grand façade which dates back to the 19th century and can also find elements of the Dolder's past in its new modern wings, including the resort's four Top Suites which are each inspired by past guests. Suite 100 is said to be inspired by The Rolling Stones.
8. Omni Mount Washington
Built in 1902 by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney, the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire boasts a colorful and unique history. In addition to having hosted several U.S. icons and celebrities such as Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, and three U.S. Presidents, the resort also holds a place in American history. It also served as the location of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in 1944, which led to the establishment of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those who visit today can still embrace the resort's history through a variety of experiences that pay homage to its rich heritage, from enjoying tea at the iconic Princess Room (which served as Princess Carolyn Stickney private dining area) to an authentic prohibition-styled drinking experience at The Cave (which served as a speakeasy during the prohibition era).
9. The Willard InterContinental
The Willard InterContinental has been the focal point for elegant dinners, meetings, and galas for more than 150 years. A Washington D.C. institution, the grand hotel has hosted almost every U.S. President since Franklin Pierce in 1853. On August 28, 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King finished his famous "I Have a Dream" speech while a guest at the Willard. Today, the hotel continues to have a large presence on Pennsylvania Avenue, with a full-service restaurant called Cafe du Parc, 335 rooms and suites, and close proximity to all of D.C.'s top attractions.
10. The Omni Homestead Resort
The Omni Homestead Resort, dubbed "America's First Resort" and celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, has been host to a variety of guests and historical events. Established in 1766, the resort's Jefferson Pools are named after Thomas Jefferson who frequented the springs to "take the waters" to relieve his rheumatism. Since then, 21 more presidents have visited the resort, Sam Snead learned to play golf on the Old Course, and in 2013, the resort underwent a $25 million revitalization.