Beyond the presidential suite: historic hotels with a presidential past

Traveling has been an essential presidential duty since George Washington first took office in 1789. U.S. presidents travel for a number of reasons – to attend summits and meet other heads of state; to christen national parks, ships, and aircraft carriers; to tour factories; to make speeches; to “press the flesh; and, of course, to relax.

While we here at Gadling are keen to bring you details on the most blinged-out Presidential suites (see our other post today on pimped out presidential suites in DC), we thought our readers would also appreciate a look at a wider range of properties where U.S. presidents have visited, stayed, or left their historic mark. Learn which hotel commissioned a special chair to hold the portly President Taft, which suite’s fireplace mantle retains a golf ball divot from an errant indoor presidential putt, and which resort kept an underground government-commissioned bunker secret until 1992.


Top ten historic hotels from around the world

Hotel price comparison site has put together a list of ten historic international hotels and the famous individuals that stayed in them.

The lineup includes some of the most beautiful hotels from around the world and was compiled using reviews submitted to Trivago,, and others.

The top ten lineup is:

1. Palace Beau Rivage, Lausanne, Switzerland

2. Hotel Copernicus, Krakow, Poland

3. Las Casas De La Juderia, Seville, Spain

4. The Willard, Washington DC, USA

5. Reid’s Palace, Funchal, Portugal

6. Steigenberger Grandhotel Petersberg, Bonn, Germany

7. Le Plaza, Brussels, Belgium

8. Grand Hotel Rimini, Rimini, Italy

9. The Cadogan, London, United Kingdom

10. Grand Hotel de Cabourg, Cabourg, France


Chicago’s Talbott Hotel — Historic and green

Progress is being made. An eco-friendly hotel used to mean a sparse, mildly uncomfortable place to “rough it” and feel superior, but bit by bit, things are changing. By now, you probably know that you don’t have to sacrifice luxury for eco-friendliness when hotel shopping anymore; even the big chains are stepping up with green initiatives. One thing most people do expect to sacrifice though? History.

With all the renovating it takes to make a hotel greener, in many cases, it would be easier to just tear down the old hotel and build a new one in its place — we’re talking replacing lighting, heating, cooling and water systems, and even the materials in the rooms (like sustainable fabrics and ethically-obtained furniture and surfaces). One hotel that greened up and is still standing is Chicago’s historic Talbott Hotel, which sets a great example for accommodations looking to shrink their carbon footprint without starting from square one.

The Talbott Hotel was built in 1927 and includes 16 luxurious floors just steps away from Michigan Avenue in the Gold Coast Historic District of Chicago. It’s surrounded by numerous buildings which popped up just after the Great Chicago Fire. The hotel includes 24 hour room service, a seasonal outdoor cafe, a relaxing lobby bar, complimentary access to a 30,000 square foot Equinox, turn-down service and a morning newspaper. But more importantly, it’s gone green.

In November 2008, the 80+ year old Talbott Hotel became one of the first Green Seal certified hotels in the United States. They call their approach “Sustainability Without Compromise,” and their renovations included “investing in waste management, energy efficiency, water conservation, wastewater management and green procurement procedures.” In their day-to-day operations, not only are they recycling, using biodegradable products, and donating partially-used amenities to charity, but they also purchase wind energy credits to offset their carbon footprint 100 percent.

“As evidenced by our service and other operational areas, we put 110 percent into everything we do,” says General Manager Troy Strand. “We are fully committed to the sustainability of our city and are thrilled we have been recognized for doing so.”

So, if you want to stay in a luxury boutique hotel and know that you’re doing good for the environment — without even feeling it — check in to the Talbott Hotel next time you pass through Chicago. Rates start at $159 (for mid-week August at time of writing) and include a free breakfast if you book online.

For more green hotel practices, check out Katie Hammel’s “How green is your hotel?” from last week.

Historic hotels offer haunted hospitality

Several of the National Trust’s historic hotels are famous for more than just their unique interiors and architecture. The Night Shift Nurse haunts the halls of Baltimore’s Admiral Fell Inn and the ghost of a young woman who never checked out of the Hotel del Coronado lingers at the San Diego landmark. In fact, the Trust has compiled a rather lengthy list of ghostly tales from haunted hotels across the US. There are stories of unrequited love, culinary capers, holy spirits, past life experiences and other unexplainable mysteries of the paranormal.

You could spend every Halloween from here on out visiting these possessed places! And if you’re really eager to get in on the action soon, several of the hotels are offering spooky deals beyond next Wednesday’s holiday. The Hotel Bethlehem in PA embraces its “permanent guest” with a Rooms with a Boo weekend, November 2- 4; The Hotel Galvez in Galveston will offer its phantom package through December, and the Windsor Hotel in Americus, GA will keep guests guessing during two Murder Mystery weekends in January and February 2008. More info on all historic hotel packages can be found here.

West Baden Springs Hotel: A 1920s Splendor Reopens

When people in West Baden Springs, Indiana do a restoration project, they do it big time. Ninety million dollars was just enough to recently re-open the West Baden Springs Hotel to its early days splendor. In the 1920s this was a place where Al Capone and General John Pershing stayed. When the stock market crashed, the hotel took a huge financial beating and closed. Then the Roman Catholics snapped it up for $1 and turned it into a seminary. By the 1960s, when they were through with it, it sat taking up a huge amount of space. Seriously, if you’re walking in the woods near the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana where it’s located, you can’t miss it. For example, one hundred feet above the atrium floor is a free-standing dome that was once the world’s largest. The historical significance is one of the things that saved the building–plus it’s now geared up for money-making. It’s now part of the French Lick Springs Resort Casino complex.

From the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like just the place to be to feel like you’re hanging out with the Great Gatsby crowd. It’s gorgous. Hopefully, if you go with some dollars in your pocket for some gambling, Lady Luck will smile on you and you’ll leave a winner. If not, lay down on the antrium floor, look up and enjoy the view. You’ll have helped pay for it.