Old hotels are exciting. Some are relics of a bygone age that have managed to maintain their original elegance and style throughout the decades, while others offer only hints of what they might have been like for their first guests. In either case, these hotels around the world have all welcomed their first guests over a century ago. Click through to see some old favorites, and perhaps some “new” entries that are just passing the century milestone.
Salish Lodge & Spa: Snoqualmie, WA
Located in Snoqualmie, Washington, a half-hour from Seattle, the Lodge first opened in 1916 as an eight-room roadside inn. The inn quickly became famous for its side-splitting breakfast (a 1950s menu warned “it’s not a choice, you’ll get it all) featuring oats, biscuits with honey drizzled from high above, bacon, sausage, pancakes, country ham, eggs, fruit, and coffee. The lodge expanded over the years (most of the modern building is 1988 vintage), and the famous “honey from heaven” now comes from the hotel’s own apiary in an eco-friendly update to the hundred-year-old Northwest tradition.
Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort: Key West, FL
Key West’s Casa Marina first opened to guests on New Year’s Eve 1920, and aside from a brief period when it was used as an officer’s quarters during the Second World War, it has been welcoming Conch Republic visitors for a century to admire the columns of stately palms, stroll on the beach pier, or dip into bathtub-warm surf.
The Moana Surfrider: Honolulu, HI
Opened in 1901, The Moana is the oldest extant resort hotel in the Hawaiian Islands. The hotel has been serving its famed afternoon tea on the Verandah for over a century, and the giant banyan tree in the courtyard is also a centenarian, having been imported and planted just a few years after the hotel opened. The original historic building still has guest rooms, but the addition of the adjacent Surfrider Hotel and the construction of a modern tower has turned the original single-structure hotel into a sizable resort complex.
The Amway Grand: Grand Rapids, MI
Opened as The Pantlind in 1913, and noted as one of the top hotels in the country within the next decade, the hotel was purchased by retail conglomerate Amway in 1979, who refurbished the historic building and added a modern tower. Today, guests can marvel at some of the original detail work in the historic building, including the world’s largest gold-leaf ceiling in the historic lobby.
The St. Anthony: San Antonio, TX
This 1909 vintage property in the Alamo City was known early on for its gracious finery—the lobby promenade was quickly dubbed “Peacock Alley” as a place to see and be seen in the social scene. Lovingly restored to its original beaux-arts glory, with the addition of niceties like a rooftop pool and bespoke cocktail bar featuring cocktails named for spirits that haunt the city, this vintage beauty is not to be missed.
The Broadmoor: Colorado Springs, CO
This resort hotel, built in the Italian Renaissance style to emulate the resorts of the Italian Riviera, first opened in 1918 and was significantly expanded in the latter half of the 20th Century. Guests enjoy crisp mountain air and activities on the adjacent lake. The Broadmoor, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is also a popular location for conferences and sporting championships.
The Roosevelt: New Orleans, LA
This New Orleans landmark first welcomed guests in 1893 and was renovated and renamed The Roosevelt in 1925. The hotel’s namesake, President Theodore Roosevelt, had overseen the construction of the Panama Canal, which drove a growth boom in New Orleans. The hotel’s block-long Art Deco lobby is famously decked out in holiday themes every Christmas.
The Palace Hotel: San Francisco, CA
The Palace Hotel first opened in 1875 and was popular with visiting dignitaries. The original structure was destroyed by fire in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and reopened in 1909 following the construction of a new earthquake-proof building. The hotel is famed for its Garden Court, which was once a carriage entrance now topped by a glass dome and chandeliers; the hotel’s ballrooms were the site of conventions forming the United Nations in 1945.
Chateau d’Ouchy: Lausanne, Switzerland
Parts of this castle date back to the 12th Century, but guests here won’t find any drafty medieval environs here. Much of the building, which fronts picturesque Lake Geneva, was remodeled specifically for use as a hotel from 1893, and even the knight’s suite, in the historic sleeping chambers of the castle’s incumbent, is today outfitted with modern facilities (including a Nespresso machine) nestled among the ancient woods, soaring stone arches, and watchful gargoyles.
Houshi: Komatsu, Japan
Undoubtedly the oldest hotel in our survey, guests have been visiting Houshi for over a thousand years. Originally a natural onsen or hot springs bath, the site became an inn in 718 AD and is today managed by the same family for 46 generations. Houshi is officially the world’s oldest hot springs hotel, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Guests enjoy separate men’s and women’s hot springs baths or have the option to rent private baths. A selection of fresh seasonal menus are served in the tatami-matted guest rooms, which come in a variety of themes and styles, many with tranquil garden views.
Mount View Hotel: Calistoga, CA
Calistoga is an unwitting portmanteau of “Saratoga” and “California”, as the town’s founder, awed by the natural hot springs, wished to emulate the spa atmosphere of his New York origins. The site of the Mount View Hotel in Napa County has long been a place of lodging, but the current mission revival building dates back to 1919. Long an intimate family-owned establishment, today’s guests are welcomed with a glass of local wine and enjoy a cup of pour-over coffee each morning.
The Fairmont Empress: Victoria, BC
Built in 1908 as a grand railway hotel, the architect incorporated both chateau-style and Edwardian designs into the harborfront building. Famed for gracious afternoon tea, luxurious accommodations tucked away behind ivied stone walls, and more recently, the hotel’s own Empress 1908 Gin, which uses the Empress Tea blend as a botanical, this gorgeous vintage hotel draws visitors to Victoria just to see it.
Singapore’s most famous hotel opened in 1887 and was named for the founder of the then-British colony. The hotel became famous for colonial luxury, and the hotel’s Long Bar became famous for the invention of the Singapore Sling sometime around 1915—now the country’s national cocktail. Refurbished in 2019, the hotel’s original colonial-era building still stands among Singapore’s modern skyscrapers.
The Savoy: London, England
Fashioned after the opulent American hotels of the day, The Savoy was opened by theatre impresario Richard D’Oyley Carte in 1889. With uncommon (for the day) amenities like electric lifts, hot-and-cold running water, and nearly all rooms with ensuite baths, the hotel became an instant hit. D’Oyley Carte soon hired hotel manager Cesar Ritz and Chef de Cuisine Auguste Escoffier, and the pair soon set the standard for luxury that is still observed over a century later.
There’s more than one story about how the hotel on the banks of the Limmat River came to be named “Storchen” (that’s German for “storks”). One story describes the building being named after a pair of rare black storks nested in the roof, but as the name first appeared in Zurich’s tax records in 1357 it’s easy to forgive a memory lapse. Today guests are welcomed to 66 rooms and suites under the flag of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
Asadaya: Kanazawa, Japan
Asadaya is a ryokan (traditional inn) in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture on the west coast of Honshu. Founded in 1867, this intimate five-room inn offers cedar wood rooms constructed in the style of a traditional tea house, surrounding a small garden. Each room is differently themed, and guests benefit from custom, locally made lacquerware, free WiFi, and seasonal cuisine focusing on seafood sourced from a local fisherman.
The Plaza: New York, NY
Constructed in 1907 at the southeast corner of Central Park, the Plaza quickly became synonymous with luxury hospitality, and in particular with New York City. Conrad Hilton once owned and lived in the hotel, and Truman Capote hosted the famous Black and White Ball here in 1966. Fictional heroes ranging from Heloise to Kevin McAllister have graced the guest rooms, while exterior shots of the hotel are emblematic of Manhattan.
The Stafford: London, England
Opened in 1912 in a series of houses dating back to the 17th Century, The Stafford is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. With several owners since its opening, the hotel was notably used as a club for American and Canadian officers stationed in Britain. Guests today can choose from three distinct buildings—the main house, the mews, and the gate house—each with their own style and character.
Willard Intercontinental: Washington D.C.
The current building was constructed in 1901, but the Willard dates back to six small houses on the site that served as a hotel as early as 1816. Just steps from the White House, the hotel’s list of notable guests is impressive; Abraham Lincoln lived int he hotel prior to his inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly wrote his “I Have A Dream” speech in one of the guest rooms in the days before the 1963 March on Washington.
The Fairmont San Francisco
Nearly complete at the time of the 1906 earthquake, the hotel opened in 1907 following extensive repair and renovation by architect Julia Morgan. The hotel, along with The Palace, was the site of the formative meetings of the United Nations in 1945. Guests still revel nightly in the hotel’s long-running tiki-themed Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, complete with indoor pool from which a house band performs on a raft, and “tropical rainshowers” open from the ceiling.
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