Oldest U.S. Hotels

The United States has hotels dating to the 1700s.
The United States has hotels dating to the 1700s. (Image: hotel image by Antoni Traver from Fotolia.com)

According to Hotel Interactive, coming up with a definitive, chronological list of the oldest hotels in the United States has proven difficult even for organizations like the National Trust Historic Hotels. What we do know is that a range of old hotels, typically in the New England area or Chicago, boast such famous former guests as Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn

The Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn (BA&DI) is located in New York's Hudson Valley. BA&DI boasts it is the oldest operating hotel in the United States, but historians question the validity of the hotel's claim. However, the BA&DI is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Historic Hotels of America. The Beekman Arms has 23 rooms, while the neighboring Delamater Inn has 50 rooms and features a garden courtyard. Guests can also stay in the historic Old Firehouse, Rhinebeck's first fire station, which has been converted into a suite. Beekman Arms has its own tavern, called the Colonial Tap Room, that is open seven days a week and offers brunch on Sunday. Staying in either the hotel or the inn puts you near attractions such as the Vanderbilt Mansion and Montgomery Place.

The DeSoto House

The smoke-free DeSoto House of Illinois opened its doors in 1855. According to Illinois historian H. Scott Wolfe, the DeSoto House is the oldest operating hotel in the United States. However, since it closed for renovations in the 1980s, it cannot be called the longest continuously operating hotel. The hotel's 55 rooms include standard guest rooms and luxury suites decorated in Victorian style and named after previous famous guests such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and William Jennings Bryan. The three hotel restaurants include The Courtyard, which serves breakfast and lunch; the Green Street Tavern and Restaurant, with alcoholic beverages, casual snacks and sandwiches; and the General, a casual dining establishment that serves steak and seafood. The DeSoto House hosts weddings as well as community events like a Halloween parade with a haunted dinner and a country craft fair.

Omni Parker House

The Omni Parker House in downtown Boston is considered the longest running luxury hotel in the United States. It opened in 1855 and has accommodated Babe Ruth, Nathaniel Hawthorne and John F. Kennedy. The hotel is in close proximity to local theaters and has hosted many thespian guests, including Edwin Booth, who was frequently visited by his brother, John Wilkes Booth. According to the Parker Hotel, John Wilkes Booth was a guest on April 5 and 6, 1865, and guests reported his frequent patronage of a local shooting range. Eight days later, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. The hotel's 551 guest rooms range from economy to premier suites. For families, the Freedom Trail Suite offers special touches for children like colonial-style costumes and furniture, a chalkboard and bunk beds. The hotel restaurant, Parker's, is the purported birthplace of the famous Boston Cream Pie and is open for breakfast through dinner. During the early 1940s, Civil Rights activist Malcolm X worked as a busboy in the restaurant.

Palmer House Hilton

Chicago's Palmer House Hilton was first built in 1871, but the corners of State and Monroe Streets have housed three different Palmer House hotels. The first burned to the ground during the Great Chicago Fire, and the second was gradually renovated and rebuilt. The second building hosted such famous guests as Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. Originally a family-owned hotel, Conrad Hilton purchased the property in 1945. The Palmer House is a short walk from Chicago's theater district, making it a favorite choice for actors and theater aficionados. Options are available for guests with disabilities, and the hotel features in-room dining as well as three restaurants. The Lockwood Restaurant and Bar serves contemporary American cuisine by chef Phillip Foss, while Potter's Lounge offers a large cocktail menu with lighter edibles. The Lobby Bar serves both drinks and snacks.

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