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12 Historic Southern Hotels

12 Historic Southern Hotels
Written by Lia Grabowski | Greyfield Inn; Photo by Andrew Cebulka

Timeless Travel Destinations

Looking to leave behind your day-to-day and take a trip back in time? Book a stay at one of these historic Southern hotels and holiday in timeless accommodations. From eighteenth-century mansions to swanky, Prohibition-era hotels, all of these destinations have been refurbished and updated with plenty of amenities for a modern-day traveler.

THE BILTMOREAsheville, North Carolina

On the grounds of Asheville’s Biltmore Estate­­–George Vanderbilt’s grandiose chateau-esque home–sits the stately Inn on Biltmore Estate and the pastoral-inspired Village Hotel. The sprawling grounds are adjacent to historic Biltmore Village and a quick jaunt to downtown Asheville. The four-star inn includes luxurious amenities, including a day spa, 24-hour concierge service, and floral services. In contrast, the Village Hotel is tucked away, quiet, and ideal for families with little ones. From either lodging option, there’s easy access to some twenty-two miles of hiking and biking trails and other recreational opportunities, like fly-fishing and horseback riding, all of which showcase the estate in a new light.

 

Anchorage 1770, historic southern hotels

THE ANCHORAGE 1770 | Beaufort, South Carolina

Walking into the Anchorage 1770 is like coming home—especially if your home is a mansion. After buying the vacant William Elliott House property in 2014, Frank and Amy Lesesne restored the thirteen-room inn to its former charm and welcome guests like family. Each guestroom features bright views of the Harbor River or the inn’s gardens. Homemade cookies each evening provide a cozy touch.

 

STONEHURST PLACE | Atlanta, Georgia

This elegant nineteenth-century home includes modern amenities that still maintain the original Art Deco aesthetic. Each of the six guestrooms have their own distinct charm—from the Piedmont, decorated with photographs and memorabilia of famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, to the Eaves, a cozy attic room in the home’s former nanny’s quarters. Grab a sweet, like an individual blueberry pie or bite of chocolate decadence, from the dining room sideboard on your way in—they’re homemade each day—or enjoy a glass of wine and homemade cheese straws from the living room’s savory cabinet.

 

GREYFIELD INNCumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island, Georgia’s southernmost barrier island, is just off the mainland yet feels a world away with its miles of undeveloped beaches, maritime forests, and marshlands teeming with wildlife. Relaxed and secluded, Greyfield Inn is a lesson in unplugging—there’s no Wi- Fi on the property and no TVs in guest rooms. Instead, a wide front porch with rocking chairs and bed swings beckon guests to unwind with a book or afternoon cocktail. Guests have the run of the place, from living spaces with furniture and books original to the home to an open kitchen stocked with snacks and drinks during the day. The result? It feels more like a family friend’s home than a hotel.

 

THE COLLECTOR INNSt. Augustine, Florida

Composed of nine cottages dating to the late eighteenth-century, the Collector Inn features thirty guestrooms that have been updated with modern amenities while keeping original details intact. Formerly the Dow Museum of Historic Houses, the Collector fuses Spanish and coastal decor. Winding stone paths connect the neighborhood of cottages, weaving past an outdoor pool, stone amphitheater, and fire pits that are positioned throughout the one-acre garden courtyard. Guests can join a tour led by the inn’s on-site historian to learn about the property’s history as a hospital, cemetery, and the site for Florida’s reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

 

THE REDMONT HOTEL | Birmingham, Alabama

A recent renovation returned the Redmont Hotel back to the Art Deco splendor of its heyday. Built in 1925, it has hosted some notable figures (including Hank Williams on the last night he was alive in 1952). These days it’s an easy choice thanks to its downtown location and rooftop bar with a sweeping view of the city skyline.

 

THE ALLUVIANGreenwood, Mississippi

Little Greenwood, Mississippi, sits beside the Yazoo River. Thanks to its location and rich, productive land, Greenwood enjoyed a place of prominence in the South’s cotton economy for decades, but that success faded in the mid-twentieth century. In the last few decades, however, downtown Greenwood has experienced a resurgence. The Alluvian opened in 2003 in the shell of a historic hotel. Named for the area’s alluvial soil deposited by centuries of river floods, its sleek lobby, with gleaming marble underfoot and contemporary decor throughout, makes a sophisticated opening statement. Paintings and photography by Mississippi artists collectively tell tales of how the whims of water have shaped the Delta. The superstars are the comfy beds decked in sumptuous linens.

 

INN AT PERRY CABINSt. Michaels, Maryland

Built by a War of 1812 veteran in honor of his commander Oliver Hazard Perry, the stately Inn at Perry Cabin has changed hands several times since it became a hotel in 1980, but the latest incarnation—with a Pete Dye-designed golf course and a fleet of vintage wooden sailboats at the ready for a sunset cruise—is likely it’s most luxurious. Arrive in style if you’re traveling from Annapolis: The inn will fetch you in its 55-foot Hinckley yacht.

 

THE WATERGATE HOTELWashington, D.C.

DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood has gone through something of a renaissance in the past decade. It’s also seen the reopening (after a nine-year hiatus) of mid-century-hip Watergate—now saucy but elegant in its curves and swoops. Stop here for pre-theater bourbon cocktails or post-theater noshes. The hotel whose name became the definition of scandal pays wink-wink homage to its history with room key tags that read “No Need to Break In,” mod staff uniforms designed by Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, and the ability to book the infamous room 214. The Next Whiskey Bar is perfect for tête-à-têtes. But if it’s a clear spring evening, the place to be is the rooftop bar and lounge, Top of the Gate. Order up a glass of rosé and absorb the unparalleled 360-degree views of the pink city with its marbled monuments and the cherry-blossom-laced river. It’s the civilized way to ponder Washington scandals old and brewing.

 

21C MUSEUM HOTEL LOUISVILLELouisville, Kentucky

Housed in a series of renovated nineteenth-century tobacco and bourbon warehouses, the flagship 21C—now one of seven in the brand—anchors downtown Louisville’s revitalized West Main Street. Its central locale makes it a handy base for Derby-goers and exploring the nearby East Market District and Butchertown neighborhoods. Proof on Main whiskey bar—a paean to the state spirit with more than 120 Kentucky bourbons—and a lobby full of thought-provoking artwork set the tone for a convivial, warm welcome. Inside, the lobby and event space double as a free-to-the-public contemporary art gallery featuring rotating exhibitions and permanent installations and other works grace the ninety-one guestrooms, each a stylish backdrop in its own right with high ceilings, large windows, and, in some cases, exposed brick walls.

 

THE SOUTHERN HOTEL | Covington, Louisiana

Leaving New Orleans, it’s about an hour drive across Lake Pontchartrain and into Covington, Louisiana, a world away with its quiet streets and small-town ambiance. New Orleanians have long taken to the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain as a respite from city living. Built in 1907, the Southern Hotel hosted guests for more than fifty years until it closed in the 1960s. After a two-year renovation, the forty-two-room hotel reopened in 2014 as a modern interpretation of the original. Elements original to the Mission Revival building, like exposed brick and wide windows in guestrooms, meet bright and breezy modern decor. Its bright, white lobby with arched columns and exposed wood beams is a breath of fresh air incarnate, dotted with pops of color from local art, preppy printed fabrics, and potted palms. Come evening time, you’ll find guests and locals alike lingering amid murals of vintage Covington postcards at the Cypress Bar.

 

CARR MANSION | Galveston, Texas

With its grand facade and elegant coastal interior, the Greek Revival Carr Mansion exudes charm. Built in 1866, it survived the 1900 hurricane and was once a summer home for former Texas Governor Richard Coke. The building recently underwent a top-to- bottom renovation, opening last year as a bed and breakfast complete with eight rooms each named for a previous resident of the mansion (the Church Lady, the Grocer, the Socialite) and a seaside-themed bar that hosts a happy hour for guests.

 

THE CAPITAL HOTEL | Little Rock, Arkansas

Reigning as the grand dame of Arkansas for more than a century, the Capital Hotel anchors downtown Little Rock. With its original green-and-white tiled lobby, soaring columns, and stained glass, the Capital has one of the most beautiful lobbies in the South. The staff’s quiet efficiency creates an atmosphere that’s refined—not stuffy. Guests are received and escorted to their room (no check-in desk required) and peace and quiet are the hotel’s hallmarks. Combining one-hundred-thirty years of character with the comfort of a modern luxury hotel, the ninety-four-room property prides itself on its “human element,” an investment in staffing and training. For instance, Frette linens are cleaned and hand-pressed in-house, and guests sleep on mattresses hand-crafted by a local manufacturer.

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