5 of the Oldest Hotels in America
Book Your Trip to a Historic Hotel Today
If you’re a history buff, it makes sense that you might want to visit some of the oldest sites and attractions in the country. But have you ever thought about booking a room at an old-world hotel? There are many such accommodations across the land, but some stand out for their age, nobility, and beauty. So where are the oldest hotels in America? Before you book your bus ticket, consider one of these locations for your stay.
Few hotels enjoy as much national recognition and adoration as Omni Parker House in Boston, MA. The luxury property is the epitome of American history and hospitality: It opened its doors in 1855 and is considered the oldest hotel to operate continuously in the country. It was formerly known as the Parker House Hotel and has undergone significant renovations and changes over the decades. The property has hosted luminaries such as Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, who lived at the hotel for five months. It was here where he first performed “A Christmas Carol” before taking his performance to another local venue. It’s not without notoriety, either — John Wilkes Booth stayed here some eight days before assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. Many noteworthy individuals have worked for the property, too, including Ho Chi Minh, who was purportedly a baker there; Malcolm X, who was a busboy; and Emeril Lagasse, who was a sous chef in the late 1970s and early ’80s. The modern iteration is as beautiful and comfortable as ever; there are luxurious suites, a 24-hour fitness center, and a stylish restaurant renowned for — what else? — its Boston Cream Pie.
There are many historic hotels situated in Washington, D.C. Many have hosted some of the world’s biggest names in the spheres of politics and entertainment. But the oldest continuously running property in the city is the Tabard Inn. It opened in 1922 and has long been an area institution renowned for its charming interiors and reflections of bygone eras. It played a significant role in American history, too, by housing the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. Under new ownership in the ’70s, the hotel stood out for the very things that made it so unusual in the hospitality field: the rooms had no TVs and the food was prepared from scratch, with nary a microwave in the building. It was a return to a calmer, more peaceful time for guests who sought refuge from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. A commitment to outstanding service and an interest in retaining the old-world feeling remains alive even today. The rooms are beautifully furnished with elements like ornate headboards, lush drapes, and wooden furnishings. In keeping with its longstanding interest in preparing only the freshest meals, the on-site restaurant sources many of its ingredients locally and cooks everything to order.
San Diego, CA
Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, the Horton Grand, founded in 1886, is the oldest hotel in San Diego, CA. It was originally known as the Grand Hotel before it was renamed in 1907 as the Hotel Horton. Fast forward to 1981, when both the Hotel Horton and the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery hotels were set for demolition. Builders instead disassembled the hotels and moved both to their current location, where they reopened together in 1986. Many of each hotel’s original elements are still featured today, including stained glass windows from the Brooklyn-Kahle Saddlery and an ancient oak staircase from the Horton. It’s a formidable hotel with true historic standing in the city, and the Horton Grand continues to deliver just as much today as it ever did during its illustrious past. There’s an old-world quality about it that is unmatched, largely because so many of its historic details remain. Rooms are warm and inviting, while the on-site restaurant screams old-world ambiance from its ornate brass chandeliers to its rich wood trim.
Cape May, NJ
Our shortlist of oldest hotels in America must include the Chalfonte. If you’re in Cape May, NJ, you probably won’t be able to miss the bright green sign that sits before the Chalfonte. “National Historic Landmark,” it reads, along with the opening year: 1876. It was founded by Henry Sawyer, who was captured during the Civil War and sentenced to execution for shooting a pair of Confederate Calvary POWs. Sawyer’s wife implored President Abraham Lincoln to assist. If Sawyer was executed, warned his administration, then they would execute two Confederates in return — one of whom was General Robert E. Lee’s son. An agreement was hastily arranged, and Sawyer was freed before returning to war. When he returned home to Cape May, he shifted his focus to opening his property. As the oldest hotel along the shore and situated in a privileged spot two blocks from the water’s edge and downtown, the property is more than just a historic delight — although there are plenty of old-world trappings that will thrill anyone with an appreciation for yesteryear. Imagine rocking chairs on verandas and a distinctive cupola that sits atop the grand home like a crown. It’s all the charm you might expect to find in the south, complete with the kind of simplicity that guests favored during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The rooms are pleasant, simple, and relaxed, all providing beautiful views of the airy surroundings. There are no TVs or phones, but guests do have Internet access. It’s also worth noting that there’s no elevator in the building, so you will need to book a ground-floor room accordingly if you’re planning a trip and need special accommodations for accessibility.
Little Rock, AK
Often referred to as the “front porch of Little Rock,” the Capital Hotel opened in 1876. It has continuously made history for its groundbreaking introductions to the hospitality world, including electricity and oversized elevators. Many well-known figures have stayed here during its reign, including President Ulysses S. Grant — there’s even an old tale that claims the elevators were built so large to accommodate Grant’s horse! Bill Clinton also headquartered his media events here during his presidency. Over the years it has undergone numerous renovations and was fully restored in 2007. Today, it’s the epitome of southern charm: a true old-world hotel with contemporary touches that bring it up to date without taking away from what makes it truly historic and unique. You’ll feel this the moment you step beyond the iconic pillars that guard the double doors. Above, a trio of flags waves robustly, while a large deck beckons you to have a seat and enjoy a fresh meal and a cocktail. The rooms are at once warm and regal, with spectacular lighting that floods the rooms and brightens the rich wood furnishings.
Book Your Trip to a Historic Hotel Today
So where are the oldest hotels in America? They’re everywhere — if you look closely enough! If you’re inspired to indulge in a touch of history during your next getaway, head to BusTickets.com to book your trip today.