Admiral Fell Inn
Surrounded by the Belgian block streets and brick sidewalks of Baltimore’s Historic Fells Point neighborhood, the Admiral Fell Inn has served as a theater, Seamen’s YMCA and a vinegar factory. Now the eight waterfront-facing buildings that make up the inn — built between the 1770s and 1920s — feature 80 uniquely decorated rooms named after Baltimore-important people. In 1996, the inn underwent an award-winning renovation, which included the addition of a new rooftop and meeting and banquet facilities.
Immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, the Red Lion Inn — established in 1773 — has hosted five presidents (Cleveland, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge and FDR) as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Wayne and Bob Dylan. Credit for much of the 18th-century furniture, colonial pewter and Staffordshire china goes to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Plumb, who acquired the inn in 1862. The Red Lion Inn is in the Berkshires, about two hours from Boston, one hour from Albany, NY. Nearby attractions include the Norman Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
(800) 678-8946 or (413) 298-5545, <www.redlioninn.com>
Take a quick water-taxi ride to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor attractions, including the National Aquarium and Camden Yards. It’s also near the main Johns Hopkins Hospital. Room rates: $155-$215. (800) 292-4667 or (410) 522-7377, <www.admiralfell.com>.
New York City
Long known as a parlor for the literati, the Algonquin and its tradition of elegance and sophistication have been a Midtown Manhattan staple since 1902. The hotel underwent a mega-bucks restoration in 1998 — note the custom wallpaper, designed by New Yorker cartoonist Robert Mankoff. Look for memorabilia from the Round Table days of Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott and Robert Benchley. The Algonquin is within walking distance of Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and Fifth and Madison avenues. Room rates: $269-$529. (800) 678-8946 or (212) 840-6800, <www.thealgonquin.net>.
In the center of Philadelphia’s Old City, the Thomas Bond House — built circa 1769 — is in walking distance of Independence Hall and offers a prime view of William Penn’s home and the Delaware River. Each bed-and-breakfast room has been restored to an 18th-century Federal Period motif. Room rates: $95-$175. (800) 845-2663 or (215) 923-8523, <www.winston-salem-inn.com/philadelphia>.
Sure, there’s the 1909 Neo-Georgian architecture, with wood-columned portico and dome-capped cupola. And there’s the splendid view, overlooking the southern end of Lake Otesaga. But most Otesaga guests are fixated on the championship Leatherstocking Golf Course — named for James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales” — and the nearby National Baseball Hall of Fame. What does Otesaga mean? It’s the Iroquois word for “meeting place.” Room rates: $260-$580. (800) 348-6222 or (607) 547-9931, <www.otesaga.com>.
Fort Worth, Texas
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (not Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) are on the long list of celebrity guests who have slept at the Stockyards Hotel since it opened in 1907. While running from the law in 1933, the bank robbers hid out in what’s now Room 305. Guests in the Bonnie and Clyde Suite can see a pistol owned by Parker and a poem she wrote for Barrow. Today, the hotel is more country than gangster, hosting guests from Garth Brooks and George Strait to Lori Morgan. Rooms are authentically furnished in four motifs: Victorian, Mountain Man, Cowboy and Native American. Room rates: $139-$375. (800) 423-8471 or (817) 625-6427, <www.stockyardshotel.com>.
San Antonio, Texas
Just 100 yards from the Alamo, since 1859 “the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River” has hosted such guests as Texas’ sainted Sam Houston, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Babe Ruth and Mae West. Perhaps most famously, Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders — volunteers for the American cavalry in the Spanish-American War — in the Menger Bar.
The Hermitages — named for Andrew Jackson’s nearby Hermitage estate — opened in 1910 and touted itself as “fire proof, noise proof and dust proof.” The hotel has served as headquarters for Tennessee’s suffragette movement in 1920 and JFK’s Southern presidential campaign office in 1960. Dinah Shore made her singing debut — with “Near You” — in the Oak Bar in 1949, and pool legend Minnesota Fats lived at the Hermitage for eight years. The only example of commercial Beaux Arts architecture in Tennessee, the Hermitage features a three-story, arched-ceiling lobby with Italian sienna marble and Russian walnut wall panels. Despite the grandeur, the autographed picture of Gene Autry on the lower level of the lobby somehow fits in.
(888) 888-9414 or (615) 244-3121, <www.hermitagehotel.net>
The bar itself is a replica of the House of Lords Pub in London. The Menger offers a supreme view of San Antonio’s annual Battle of Flowers Parade, scheduled every April as part of Fiesta. Room rates: $195-$475. (800) 345-9285 or (210) 223-4361, <www.historicmenger.com>.
The only bed-and-breakfast in Winston-Salem’s Moravian-influenced Old Salem Historic District, the Augustus T. Zevely Inn has been completely restored to its mid-19th century appearance. From corner fireplaces — a Moravian architecture feature — to authentic pottery, you’ll sense the hard-working spirit and sensibilities of the German-speaking community that settled the area in 1766. Don’t be surprised to spot guinea fowl from the magnolia-shaded back porch. Namesake Augustus T. Zevely, by the way, was a physician; his office is now used as a breakfast room. Room rates: $80-$205. (800) 928-9299 or (336) 748-9299, <www.winston-salem-inn.com>.
The five-story Partridge Inn, which features a quarter-mile of balconies and decks, started out as a modest home in 1836. But when Morris Partridge and his wife purchased the home in the early 1900s, they turned it into an inn and added on many times over the years. The Partridges hung their hat on superb cuisine and hospitality, a tradition still important to today’s innkeepers. Room rates: $79-$165. (800) 476-6888 or (706) 737-8888, <www.partridgeinn.com>.
Gen. John A. Quitman, a Mexican War hero and one-time governor of Mississippi, bought this 1818 Greek Revival mansion as a wedding present for his wife, Eliza. It sits on a 26-acre spread of moss-draped oaks and magnolias. Monmouth was damaged during the Civil War and continued to fall into disrepair until the 1970s. It’s now completely restored. Room rates: $150-$380. (800) 828-4531, <www.monmouthplantation.com>.
A jewel in the Queen City’s crown since its opening in 1882, the Cincinnatian boasts impressive French Second Empire architecture and a grand walnut and marble staircase. The Cincinnatian barely escaped the wrecking ball in the early 1980s, and recently underwent a $25 million makeover. Room rates: $130-$235. (800) 678-8946 or (513) 381-3000, <www.cincinnatianhotel.com>.
Des Moines, Iowa
This 12-story, Renaissance Revival-style hotel served as an induction center for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. More recently, the Savery christened its “Francesca Suite” after Meryl Streep’s character in the movie The Bridges of Madison County. Room decor includes the dishes Streep pegged co-star Clint Eastwood with during a high-drama scene. Room rates: $89-$249. (800) 798-2151 or (515) 244-2151, <www.shanerhotels.com/hotels/hotel11>.
Mackinac Island, Mich.
The marvelous front porch — all 66o feet of it — is the thing at the splendid, Victorian-style Grand Hotel. (Non-guests pay admission just to walk across the porch!) A major attraction since 1887, Grand Hotel features five suites named and decorated in honor of first ladies (Johnson, Ford, Reagan, Carter, Bush). The swimming pool bears the name of actress Esther Williams, who shot the 1949 movie This Time for Keeps at Grand Hotel. Other Tinseltown trivia: The fan club for the 1980 movie Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, meets every October at
Grand Hotel. Must-have dessert: Grand Pecan Balls. (P.S. No cars allowed on Mackinac Island.)
Built in 1888 by Burton Harvey Campbell, this mortar-and-limestone Richardsonian Romanesque inn re-creates Campbell’s family home in the foothills of Scotland. Unique features include a Grand Staircase with Spanish chevalier lamps, a 675-year-old Grecian fireplace and fretwork carved by an inmate in an Irish debtors’ prison.
(800) 580-1131 or
St. Paul, Minn.
Thank businessman Lucius Pond Ordway for the lovely St. Paul Hotel. Ordway put up $1 million of his own money in 1910 and challenged the city of St. Paul to pay for the rest of the construction of a make-a-statement hotel. Designed by the New York architecture firm of Reed and Stem — creators of Grand Central terminal — the St. Paul is a great example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. The hotel is connected to the city’s Skyway system, which means you’re weather-protected as you walk through much of downtown St. Paul. Room rate: $159-$679. (800) 292-9292 or (651) 292-9292, <www.stpaulhotel.com>.
Estes Park, Colo.
For better or worse, the Stanley remains forever linked with Stephen King, who wrote most of his novel, The Shining, in Room 217. The hotel was turned into horror central in 1996 when the made-for-TV remake of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of King’s book was filmed on the hotel’s grounds. Historians rather than horror buffs will appreciate the Stanley’s neoclassical Georgian architecture, vintage 1906. Note the classical cornices, moldings and lovely Palladian windows. And, of course, you have the spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. A lesser claim to fame: A chunk of the movie Dumb and Dumber also was filmed at the Stanley. It’s about 90 minutes from Denver. Room rates: $129-$299. (800) 976-1377 or (970) 586-3371, <www.stanleyhotel.com>.
Manitou Springs, Colo.
The historic Cliff House, at the base of Pikes Peak, has been in business longer than Colorado has been a state. Opened in 1873 as a stagecoach stop, in the late 1800s the Cliff House became the place to stay for folks partaking of the mineral waters of Manitou Springs. The Victorian architecture is exquisite, but Pikes Peak is what takes your breath away. Room rates: $129-$400. (888) 212-7000 or (719) 685-3000, <www.thecliffhouse.com>.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah’s oldest continuously operating bed-and-breakfast features 19th-century Queen Anne and Victorian-style furnishings. (And don’t miss the Saltair Eggs Benedict for breakfast.) Nestled between downtown Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, you’re just a mile from the Governor’s Mansion, Temple Square and the Family History Library. The Saltair is a half-hour drive from seven ski and snowboarding areas. Room rates: $55-$319. (800) 733-8184 or (801) 533-8184, <www.saltlakebandb.com>.
The National Trust Historic Hotels of America Web site lists more than 170 hotels recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Web site also offers study tours, themed driving tours and more. <www.nationaltrust.org/historic_hotels>
The Web site < iloveinns.com>, produced by American Historic Inns, offers a comprehensive selection of independently reviewed inns and bed-and-breakfasts. Note the search feature that allows you to browse by city and state.
The latest edition of the The Bed & Breakfast Encyclopedia (American Historic Inns, $18.95) lists more than 2,600 bed-and-breakfasts and country inns across the United States. Includes an index to an additional 14,000 inns, as well as a list of bed-and-breakfast hot spots.
AAA Guide to North American Bed-and-Breakfasts, Country Inns and Historical Lodgings (AAA, $23.95) offers mini-reviews, maps, directions and ratings for hundreds of accommodations.
The Official Guide to American Historic Inns: Bed-and-Breakfasts and Country Inns (American Historic Inns, $15.95) lists interesting tidbits about 2,000 establishments in all 50 states. Find out what’s served for breakfast and note area attractions, too.
West Hollywood, Calif.
Aside from the fact that Clark Garble, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and Bugsy Siegel have slept here, the Argyle is among the most recognized Art Deco structures in the country. Designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant, the exterior is smooth concrete with the windows forming a pattern of vertical blinds. Above the street entrance and along the building’s set-backs, you’ll see a collection of plaster friezes depicting Adam and Eve and various mythological creatures. Note the pineapple finial atop the tower and the sculptured radiator grille over the parking garage. Raymond Chandler mentioned the Argyle in Farewell My Lovely, and Wayne’s World II was filmed on the Sunset Boulevard premises. Room rates: $275-$l,200. (800) 225-2637 or (323) 654-7100, <www.argylehotel.com>.
Death Valley, Calif.
The lure of gold and silver motivated prospectors to conquer the desert around the 1850s, but it was borax that turned into the real pay-dirt. The Furnace Creek Inn, surrounded by the Panamint Mountains, was built in 1927 by the Pacific Borax Company. Shoshone Indians created the adobe bricks used in Furnace Creek’s Mission-style architecture. The palm gardens make you forget you’re in the heart of the desert — almost. Room rates: $155-$380. (800) 236-7916 or (760) 786-2345, <www.furnacecreekresort.com>.
San Francisco, Calif.
This is where Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” And where the first draft of the United Nations Charter was created. And where every president since Harry Truman has stayed. The Beaux Arts-style Fairmont, built atop Nob Hill, was set to open in 1906, at the time of San Francisco’s catastrophic earthquake. The building survived, though, and was the first hotel to reopen in 1907. The Fairmont recently finished an $85 million restoration project. You’re just a quick cable car ride from the Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. Room rates: $289-$8,000. (800) 441-1414 or (415) 772-5000, <www.fairmont.com>.
Santa Fe, NM
La Fonda’s heritage traces back to 1607, when the city was founded by Spaniards. The current hotel was built in 1922 in Santa Fe’s signature Pueblo style. Make time to enjoy the New Mexico-centric artwork throughout the hotel, from hand-carved furniture and sculpture to paintings. Room rates: $209-$379. (800) 523-5002 or (505) 982-5511, <www.lafondasantafe.com>.
Mount Rainier National Park, Wash.
Not even the most magnificent architecture and decor could compete with the view of Mount Rainier. But Paradise Inn manages to hold its own. Built in 1917 with Alaskan cedar salvaged from a horrible fire in the nearby Silver Forest, the inn charms guests with hand-hewn furniture, massive stone fireplaces and the original grandfather clock in the lobby of the Great Lodge. The inn survived the threat of demolition in the 1950s and upgraded safety features in 1979. Open from mid-May to the end of September. About 100 miles from Seattle, 70 miles from Tacoma. Room rates: $75-$152. (800) 678-8946, <www.guestservices.com/rainier>.
Built in the 1870s as a resort for travelers en route to and from the mining districts of Colorado’s historic Switzerland Trail Railroad, The Alps was renovated and reopened as an inn in 1993. Each room offers spectacular views of Boulder Canyon and Boulder Creek. Décor includes a grand lobby fireplace and rooms furnished with English and Scottish antiques. About five minutes from downtown Boulder.
(800) 414-2577 or