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


Historic Hotel’s Pint-Sized Professionals

Any interest in making your summer vacation a working one…for the kids? It’s never too soon to get the kids thinking about future careers, and here’s a fun way to do it: The National Trust Historic Hotels of America has special summer programs with several locations that allows kids to be a part of the hospitality action. Here’s the scoop on how your kid can be doorman, duckmaster’s assistant or bellman for the day:

At the Fairmont San Francisco, kids can play Doorman for a Day. This complimentary program is a chance to don an official doorman cap and help hail down cabs with a keepsake doorman whistle.

The Peabody Memphis employs a uniformed Duckmaster who cares for the famous resident ducks and escorts them on their fountain walk each day. The hotel’s Ducky Day Family package (starting at $290/night) lets kids act as the Duckmaster’s Assistant, marching the ducks on one of their daily treks.

The Basin Harbor Club (Vergennes, Vt.), offers a Junior Staff Program that allows children 12 and over to choose to “work” in a department for two hours. Positions available are bellman, hostess, boat captain, gardener, bag boy, front desk and host/owner. Budding journalists may prefer the Teen Escape program, which encourages teens to play reporter during their stay. The information is compiled into a newsletter for them to take home as the memories of their vacation.

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.

The National Hotel in South Beach: Art Deco Bliss

This morning a friend of mine woke up in South Beach basking in the luxury of the National Hotel on a quick 48-hour weekend away. She took the trip as a solo retreat of sorts from Columbus, Ohio’s grayness and cold. When she called to tell me about her woman-breaking-out-on-her-own plans, gushing giddiness, I felt giddy myself-and a little envious. “You should see this hotel,” she said, delighted to name some of the fine points of her room. She got me with “It overlooks the ocean. ” Currently, I’m overlooking another dusting of snow.

When I checked out the National Hotel’s website, its history and location further sold me. First built in the 1940s with Art Deco details, it was restored and reopened in 1997. The restoration is award-winning and includes original furniture, plus other authentic Art Deco pieces throughout. Being that Art Deco is my absolute favorite, I can imagine how lovely it would be about now to sit in Tamara, the hotel’s restaurant, enjoying the finery while sipping a glass of wine. If that’s not enough, the district of South Beach where the hotel is located is the Art Deco District where there is a visual feast of other restored buildings within walking distance.

I can picture my friend there, wine in hand, right now. And, in two days, will be happy to listen to her tales of just how wonderful it was.