These Are the Country's Best Historic Hotels for Design Inspiration

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Photo credit: The Don CeSar
Photo credit: The Don CeSar


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With many sites opening up again due to lifted pandemic-related restrictions, now is the perfect time to travel. But if you're looking into staying at a hotel during your vacation, you'll want to choose one that will wow you with its design as much as its amenities. There is certainly no shortage of impeccably designed hotels across the country, so House Beautiful is here to help you decide where to book your next stay. Below, take a look at our list, which includes iconic hotels in New York City, Palm Beach, and Beverly Hills, to name a few.

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Photo credit: Molly Carr
Photo credit: Molly Carr

Since The Greenbrier opened in 1778, it has welcomed a bevy of impressive guests, including Grace Kelly, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Bing Crosby. Renowned interior designer Dorothy Draper was hired to redecorate and restore The Greenbrier in the 1940s (after it served as a hospital during World War II)—and her Hollywood Regency-style creations are still in place to this day, providing visitors with countless Instagrammable spaces! The resort sits on 11,000 acres and boasts 710 guest rooms, 36 retail shops, and 20 restaurants and lounges.

The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach, Florida

Photo credit: The Colony Hotel
Photo credit: The Colony Hotel

Since 1947, the Colony Hotel has exuded the quintessential Palm Beach aesthetic, thanks to its pastel peach exterior and tropical interiors (including Dorothy Draper’s Brazilliance pattern on both walls and furnishings!). Thanks to a recent makeover by Kemble Interiors, the Colony has even more design inspiration than ever before—and we highly recommend seeing it all in person!

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Photo credit: Grand Hotel
Photo credit: Grand Hotel

Although Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel is 134 years old (it opened in 1887!), you would never suspect it, as its vibrant interiors—which were designed by Carleton Varney in more recent years—and its grand edifice look as classic as ever. Notable guests of the Grand Hotel include Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and five U.S. presidents.

The St. Regis Washington, D.C.

Photo credit: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.
Photo credit: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.

The St. Regis Washington, D.C.—previously known as The Carlton Hotel—is located just two blocks from the White House, at 923 Black Lives Matter Plaza. Built 95 years ago, this historic hotel is a work of both Beaux-Arts and Neo-Renaissance architecture and was designed by Armenian-American architect Mihran Mesrobian.

The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion, Miami Beach, Florida

Photo credit: Ken Hayden
Photo credit: Ken Hayden

Built in 1930, the Villa Casa Casuarina’s architectural design was inspired by the Dominican Republic mansion that Christopher Columbus’s son built in 1510. Fashion designer Gianni Versace lived here from 1992 to 1997, and now, it’s a luxury boutique hotel with 10 lavish suites and numerous restaurants and event spaces. We can’t forget to mention the 54-foot long pool that’s lined with 24 karat gold and boasts more than one million Italian mosaic tiles, which form a sizable depiction of the Versace logo.

The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, California

Photo credit: The Beverly Hills Hotel
Photo credit: The Beverly Hills Hotel

The most well-known component of the Beverly Hills Hotel’s interior decor is definitely the many inclusions of CW Stockwell’s iconic Martinique pattern—which can be seen on the walls of the Fountain Coffee Room and all of the hallways of the hotel, adding up to 5.5 miles of wallpaper in total! The hotel officially opened in 1912 and was designed by American architect Paul R. Williams.

The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach, Florida

Photo credit: The Don CeSar
Photo credit: The Don CeSar

Located in St. Pete Beach, Florida, the Don CeSar opened at the height of the jazz age, in 1928, and has welcomed guests including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Al Capone. Since 1975, it has been part of the National Register of Historic Places, and it was also a founding member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America, which was established in 1989. Best of all, the Don CeSar recently completed a three-year restoration project, just in time for the new roaring 20s!

The Plaza Hotel, New York, New York

Photo credit: Chris Hondros - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Hondros - Getty Images

Just last month, the Plaza Hotel reopened its doors after more than a year of being closed, due to the pandemic. Built between 1905 and 1907, The Plaza is a 21-story château-style building designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, featuring a marble base and a mansard roof. For those seeking design inspiration, might we suggest grabbing a bite to eat at the hotel’s iconic Palm Court?!

The Sands Hotel and Spa, Indian Wells, California

Photo credit: Tim Street-Porter
Photo credit: Tim Street-Porter

Interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard is the mastermind behind the decor of the Sands Hotel and Spa in Indian Wells, California, including 46 guest rooms that boast a mix of maximalist patterns and textiles. The hotel is housed in a Mediterranean-style structure that was built in the 1950s—and it also features a pink exterior that’s pretty hard to miss!

Ocean House, Westerly, Rhode Island

Photo credit: Ocean House
Photo credit: Ocean House

Situated on 13 acres, Ocean House opened in 1868 as a Victorian-style waterfront hotel in Westerly, Rhode Island. A new structure (with the same kind of architecture) was erected in 2010, following the demolition of the original hotel. Today, the imposing yellow design boasts over 200,000 square feet (which is more than 50k square feet larger than the original structure) and honors many of the original design elements, but in restored form, including a mansard roof and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the lobby.

The Breakers Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida

Photo credit: The Breakers Palm Beach
Photo credit: The Breakers Palm Beach

Built in 1925, the Breakers Palm Beach is a Renaissance Revival-style hotel that sits on 105 acres and boasts 538 rooms. The original structure, known as The Palm Beach Inn, opened to the public in 1896 and was built by industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler, who sought to provide travelers from the Florida East Coast Railway (another Flagler creation) with a place to stay. This building was burned in a fire in 1903 and rebuilt in 1904, with rooms starting at $4 a night at that point in time. What a steal!

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