To help travelers connect with our nation’s history, AAA inspectors assembled a list of their favorite historic hotels — structures of notable record or architecture, typically 75 years or older. Artifacts range from an ocean view inn in Laguna Beach to an opulent pre-Depression luxury hotel and a flamboyant Old West rail stop.
Here are America’s hotel experts’ 10 top picks for evoking an atmosphere of days gone by. Travelers can read about additional AAA Inspectors’ Favorite Historic Hotels on the AAA TravelViews blog, visit AAA’s historic hotels board on Pinterest and find more than 1,500 AAA Approved historic hotel listings on AAA.com.
Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, AAA Three Diamond Historic Bed & Breakfast, Laguna Beach
Mission-style architecture adds charm to this ocean-view inn, situated on a terraced hillside among picturesque gardens. Because there is no elevator, be prepared to climb the stairs to get a full perspective of the property. Each step you take unveils yet another hidden seating area, artistic tile work or lush landscaping accent.
The Driskill, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Austin, TX
Opened in 1886 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, the hotel offers a spectacular lobby with inlaid marble floors and magnificent woodwork leading to a grand staircase. From the cattle barons of the Old West to LBJ commandeering the hotel to watch election returns to today’s celebrities, guests enjoy superior service and upscale amenities.
Fitger’s Inn, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Duluth, MN
This renovated Lake Superior brewery houses a historic hotel, an operating brewery, a brewery museum, shops and several restaurants. Guestrooms reflect the elegance of the brewery’s heydays, each unique in décor and size based on the style of building, many with great views of the lake.
The Grove Park Inn, AAA Four Diamond Historic Resort Hotel, Asheville, NC
Dating from 1913, the Arts and Crafts inspired architecture and interior design are meticulously maintained. The lobby’s floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces mirror one another across the great hall. Distinguished past guests include the last 10 U.S. presidents, prolific authors and numerous political notables. Patrons enjoy outstanding cuisine, a 40,000-square-foot spa and a magnificent mountain view.
The Hermitage Hotel, AAA Five Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Nashville, TN
The stunning 1910 architecture, restored to its grandeur in 2003, marks the building’s exterior and ornate, cathedral-height ceilings in the large open lobby. Impressive marble columns circle the lobby and one-of-a-kind antique furnishings create an environment of pre-Depression prosperity. One area not to miss is the impressive 1930s art deco style men’s room near the restaurant bar. (Women may enter after knocking.)
La Posada Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Winslow, AZ
A popular stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, the hotel is just down the street from the “corner in Winslow, Arizona” made famous by the Eagles’ lyrics. Guest attractions include the hotel’s art museum, historical exhibits, architecture, gardens and contemporary southwest cuisine from the Turquoise Room. Restorations that began in 1997 include plans to add a million dollar garden to fulfill a dream of the original designer, Mary Colter.
Lake Quinault Lodge, AAA Two Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Quinault, WA
This 1926 hotel where President Franklin D. Roosevelt once dined offers guestrooms with the smaller, sparser furnishings of an era when the idea was to spend time hiking in the rain forest or paddling at sunrise on the glass smooth lake. Guests can curl up next to the lobby’s roaring fire, relax in Adirondack chairs at sunset or casually stroll the rolling lawn.
The Occidental Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Historic Hotel, Buffalo, WY
The Wild West comes to life with embossed ceilings, mounted animal trophies and antiques. Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy, Teddy Roosevelt and members of the Hole in the Wall Gang stayed here. Each guestroom features a unique theme. The hotel, a restaurant and saloon featuring the original back bar plus a complex of storefronts comprise a city block.
Omni Mount Washington Hotel, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH
Among its many historical claims is The Cave, a Prohibition-era speakeasy still operating as a bar and an octagon-shaped dining room designed to avoid seating any guest 'in the corner.’ The property is renowned for hosting the 1944 Bretton Woods Monetary Conference that resulted in the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. From a distance, travelers note the stately structure’s distinctive red roof atop pristine-white stucco masonry and local granite, set against a backdrop of the White Mountains.
Strater Hotel, AAA Three Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Durango, CO
Steeped in history, this downtown landmark delivers world-class accommodations and hospitality. Employees in period costume add a sense of stepping back in time to your visit. The 93 Victorian-style rooms are filled with walnut antiques and period wallpapers. Western history enthusiasts enjoy the beautiful lobby, lounges and public space. Other offerings include fine dining, nightly live entertainment and live theatre performances.
The Willard InterContinental, AAA Four Diamond Classic Historic Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Opened in 1901, this time-honored hotel features rich, eye-catching Beaux Arts architecture. It was while staying here that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put the finishing touches to his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1968 the hotel closed and fell into disrepair. Demolition was averted by a developer who restored and reopened the hotel in 1986 to provide luxurious accommodations and a high level of personal services.
About AAA Inspections and Historic Hotels
AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.
Hotels classified as historic are typically 75 years or older with historic architecture, design, furnishings, public record or acclaim and at least one of the following: maintains integrity of historical nature, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historic Landmark or located in a National Register Historic District.