One of the joys of staying in a historic hotel is basking in the glory of the storied lobby. Some are opulent, harkening back to days gone by, while others feature a pared-down classicism evocative of simpler times. No matter the variety, all of the hotels featured here, while thoroughly modern, retain a charm that stands the test of time, and have years of history hosting a fascinating cast of characters within their walls—all of which truly enhances the experience. Scroll through the gallery above to see some stunning lobby spaces, and read on to learn the backstories and interesting historical tidbits about the hotels featured.
Hotel Leveque – Columbus, Ohio
The background: The LeVeque Tower is known as the star of the Columbus skyline, and is one of the most well-recognized landmarks in the city. When completed in 1927, it was the tallest building in Columbus, the tallest building between New York City and Chicago, and the fifth-tallest building in the world. Today, the 149-room Hotel LeVeque is home to the French Brasserie-inspired Keep Restaurant and Bar, and suites that offer views of the Scioto River Mile.
Fun historical facts: When the building originally opened, it served as an aerial lighthouse to pilots flying Transcontinental Airline Transport, even serving as a beacon for Amelia Earhart. The hotel would later host President Harry S. Truman in 1946, who returned with his wife, Bess, in 1953; his stay is recorded in the book Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure.
The Scout Guide Columbus editor Abigail Fredelake says: “The LeVeque Tower has always been one of my favorite landmarks in Columbus, and I was just over the moon when they revived it with this incredible hotel, the restaurant, and bar. From the beginning, it has always been the exceptional people who work there that have made my experiences so wonderful. We got a sneak peek at the restaurant before it was open to the public, and some great behind-the-scenes information about the process.”
The Colony Hotel – Palm Beach, Florida
The background: “The Colony has been a symbol of glamour practically since it opened in 1947, writes Architectural Digest of the pink-hued Palm Beach institution. Since opening its doors, the Colony Hotel has been home to illustrious guests including Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. In 2019, under new owners Andrew and Sarah Wetenhall, The Colony unveiled luxe sun-loving amenities and a chic updated look that both travelers and locals can appreciate.
Fun historical fact: Once the winter home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, The Colony had a special golden phone—literally an ornate telephone painted gold—reserved solely for use as the Duke and Duchess’s private line.
The Scout Guide Palm Beach editor Stacey Leuliette says: “I love The Colony because it is quintessentially Palm Beach! With its pink exterior, British Colonial architecture, and palm print decor, The Colony marries old-world Florida and modern-day sophistication beautifully.”
Capital Hotel – Little Rock, Arkansas
The background: Capital Hotel has been lovingly referred to as Little Rock’s “front porch” for over 140 years. It is an important institution in the city’s history and for its citizens, especially during the holidays, when it hosts hundreds of children for story time with Santa and Mrs. Claus —as well as a thirty-foot-tall Christmas tree.
Fun historical fact: Although there is no evidence, legend has it that during his stay in 1880, President Ulysses S. Grant used the hotel’s enormous elevator to transport a horse to his suite.
The Scout Guide Little Rock editor Valerie Shively says: “I have so many favorite memories at Capital Hotel, from late nights and generous cocktails at Capital Bar and Grill to truly exquisite dinners in the wine cellar at One Eleven, the hotel’s signature restaurant. My husband and I were married there seven years ago, and we still try to sneak away for a staycation as often as possible. And even though the hotel is home to James Beard Award-winning chef Joël Antunes, my favorite treat will always be the fried black-eyed peas.”
The Jefferson – Richmond, Virginia
The background: Opening in 1895, The Jefferson’s first guests reveled in its opulence and contemporary conveniences like electric lights and elevators, and hot and cold running water in each guest room. Ever since, The Jefferson has maintained its reputation for extraordinary dining, breathtaking architecture, and flawless service.
Fun historical fact: Named after America’s third president, it is only fitting that the hotel has hosted thirteen commanders in chief, including Harrison, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Taft, both Roosevelts, Truman, Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. Other distinguished guests include Sarah Bernhardt, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Vanderbilts, Whitneys and Barrymores, Gertrude Stein, Sir Edmund Hillary, Charles Chaplin, Robert Mitchum, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley,
The Scout Guide Richmond editor Cheney Edmunds says: “The Jefferson hotel is one of our city’s treasures! It’s wonderful for visitors, but locals can be part of the traditions at the hotel as well. It’s a favorite during Christmastime.”
The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The background: Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, The Greenbrier, which opened in 1778, initially appealed to guests seeking to “take the waters” to restore their health. Today, “America’s Resort” boasts iconic Dorothy Draper-designed interiors and welcomes families to indulge in endless activities and a variety of dining options. The Greenbrier also offers a private Casino Club and state-of-the-art spa and cosmetic surgery center.
Fun historical fact: The Greenbrier is home to “The Bunker,” a former U.S. Government Relocation Facility that was top secret during the Cold War, designed to house both the Senate and House of Representatives in the event of a national emergency.
The Scout Guide Baltimore & Annapolis editor Oriet Milmoe says: “The Greenbrier is one of my favorite hotels, delightful in every way. The resort is breathtaking, and every season offers a different beautiful landscape depending on the season throughout the 10,000-acre mountain property. There are countless activities, among my favorite are tennis and horseback riding—I’ve even tried pickleball! After indulging in a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants, I love to go dancing at the casino, which is a truly unique and lively end to the evening.”
The Inn at Warner Hall – Williamsburg, Virginia
The background: It doesn’t get much more colonial than a stay at the Inn at Warner Hall. The manor house at Warner Hall stands on a piece of land that has been occupied and built upon continually since the mid-17th century, originally bestowed to Augustine Warner as a “land grant” from the British Crown in exchange for bringing twelve settlers across the Atlantic Ocean to the Jamestown Settlement—a colony desperately in need of manpower to survive in the New World.
Fun historical fact: Some of the most recognized names in American history are direct descendants of Augustine Warner: George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Captain Meriwether Lewis. In fact, George Washington was a frequent visitor to his grandparents’ plantation.
The Scout Guide Williamsburg & The Chesapeake Bay editor Sara Harris says: “Not only is the Inn at Warner Hall one of the most uniquely elegant and romantic destinations on the East Coast, but just stepping through its storied chambers and exploring its grounds connects you deeply to the heritage and history of America. We are in love with this beautiful inn, located on the waterfront plantation created in 1642 by George Washington’s great-great grandfather.”