Travel Tips

6 Historic Hotels With a New Twist

Locations in this article:  Albuquerque, NM Chicago, IL San Diego, CA

In the hotel market, it’s important to keep a property fresh with remodels, renovations, new restaurants, and clubs. Luxe Lodgings contributor Angela Fairhurst found six hotels breathing new life into their traditional American roots.

The Blackstone in Chicag0, Illinois

The historic Blackstone Hotel is located in the cultural mile of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Originally built and designed in 1909 by architectural firm Marshall and Fox, it is a Chicago landmark named after Timothy Blackstone, a notable business executive and politician. After changing ownership over the years, Marriott meticulously restored the hotel in 2008 with a renovation costing $139 million. This summer, the hotel’s most recent interior design refresh was led by Chicago’s The Gettys Group. The Blackstone was then transferred from Marriott’s Renaissance division into the distinguished and diverse Autograph Hotels division. The refresh updated the soft goods in all 335 guestrooms and suites, as well as public and event spaces, and added Timothy’s Hutch lobby lounge and a new concierge-level lounge called the 1600 CLUB. Works of 1,600 local artists hang throughout the hotel, along with bespoke room keys and unique in-room amenities such as tales of past presidents. The Al Capone barbershop from “back in the day” encourages guests to create their own history. Partnerships with local companies such as the Koval Distillery provide the hotel with its own single barrel batch and the Iwan Ries Lounge gives you access to Chicago’s only cigar lounge.

Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque was the fourth hotel Conrad Hilton built, and the city’s first high-rise. Crafted in New Mexico’s Territorial style, the high ceiling lobby and lounge with its indoor cabanas, fountains, and character has stayed true to itself through restoration. The newest addition to the hotel is Ibiza, the rooftop bar and patio. The patio has a view of Albuquerque and serves as a hot spot for nightlife on weekends. The custom-built fire and water fireplace and waterfall is visible from the street. An adjustable automatic canopy system with louvers covers the patio with a glass enclosure for year-round service. The unique octagon tables in Ibiza were all designed and constructed in-house. Plants are maintained throughout the year, enhancing the outdoor environment and making the patio a popular place for Sunday Brunch.

Fairway One at The Lodge in Pebble Beach, California

On the cusp of its 100th anniversary, The Lodge at Pebble Beach marks the celebration with the opening of Fairway One at the Lodge. It’s a 30-guest room and meeting complex, plus two standalone cottages located on the first fairway of the famed golf course. The complex has three two-story buildings, with ten units in each. The 660-square-foot rooms are designed with a decidedly male homelike feel, with a neutral color scheme, dark wood furnishings, and large, comfortable club chairs. The double-queen rooms come with impressive showers, while the king bedrooms add soaking tubs. Sliding doors open onto terraces with the golf course and nearby Pacific Ocean outside. The interior design work was done by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), while the exterior building architecture is by local Monterey-based firm Fletcher + Hardoin. The two Fairway Cottages are aptly named The Eastwood Cottage and The Palmer Cottage for Clint Eastwood and Arnold Palmer. The high-ceiling, four-bedroom cottages have ample room for entertaining including terraces with outdoor firepits.

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida 

The Breakers, a legendary 540-room oceanfront hotel founded by Henry Flagler, dates back to the 1890s. Renovations in the last couple of years have included construction of The Flagler Club, a 25-room ultra-luxury boutique hotel within the resort, with private access and personalized services from pre-arrival through departure. The Spa at The Breakers has been completely renovated, and the Seafood Bar was re-envisioned by Adam D. Tihany, design consultant to Peacock + Lewis Architects, which recreates the ambiance of dining aboard a private luxury yacht.

THE US GRANT in San Diego, California

One of the most historically significant destinations in San Diego is the 1910 property THE US GRANT. It was developed by Ulysses S. “Buck” Grant, Jr. in honor of his father, the 18th President of the United States. Completed in early 2017, a $13 million refresh kept intact the hotel’s multifaceted heritage fusing the link between San Diego, the tribal history of the hotel’s ownership, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, and the property’s Presidential namesake. Through functional, modern design, the comprehensive restyling by Rodrigo Vargas Design revitalized the grand lobby, all 270 guestrooms and suites, the meeting and wedding venues, and fitness center. The theme is a “Presidential” color scheme of navy blues and golds mixed with neutrals, bold patterns, custom furnishings, and design details honoring both past and present American and Native American cultures. The hotel’s signature sparkling chandeliers and custom Yves Clement drip-painting headboards have remained.

The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina 

Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, The Omni Grove Park Inn is a 513-room resort that originally opened in 1913. Its décor showcases the heritage of the Arts & Crafts era with furnishings from Stickley and Roycroft throughout guest areas, guest rooms, and suites. In time for the fall foliage season, more than 200 rooms have been renovated in the Sammons Wing. In keeping with its Arts & Crafts heritage, the rooms all have new porcelain wood tile, carpeting, soft goods, and reproduced historic artwork. The bathrooms now have large showers and feature handmade and hand-painted tile by the artisans of North Prairie Tileworks. Also updated are the large custom-built vanities in mission style with oil-rubbed bronze fittings and new mirrors honoring traditional designs with built-in illumination.

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By Angela Fairhurst for