4 Best places to go for a historic hotel

Aug 27, 2012 at 10:19 a.m. ET

Are you a history buff and lover of all things vintage? Do you spend hours antiquing? Do you plan your vacations around historical battle sites, cities and landmarks? If you said yes to any of these, why not take your obsession one step further and stay in a historic, vintage hotel?

Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord, Massachusetts
Photo credit: Eric Shultz

Check into one of these four hotels that are not just decorated with old world charm, but have some serious significance in U.S. history! Each of these hotels is recognized by the Historic Hotels of America, with the the oldest one on the list dating back to 1716! So pack your bags, your history books and your keen spirit for vintage finds and head to one of these historically famous hotels!

Colonial Inn, Concord, Massachusetts

This hotel, built in 1716, has seen more than three centuries of American history. Located in the town of Concord, just 30 minutes north of Boston, the charming Colonial Inn used to be a meeting place for free-thinking colonists during British occupation. One of the rooms of the Inn was used to hold weapons and arms for the local militia during the Revolutionary War! After the war, in the early 1800s, the Inn was used as a grocery store and thriving business. Then, in the mid-1800s, author Henry David Thoreau moved in with his family while he attended Harvard College. In 1888, the Inn was renamed and turned into a small full-service hotel.

Because the hotel has been around for so long, many people believe it to be haunted. SyFy's Ghost Hunters visited the Inn and recorded multiple sightings and experiences of paranormal activity. Each of the Inn's 15 rooms is decorated with historic artifacts and charm, including antique dressers, vintage distressed mirrors and ornaments and four-poster beds from the early 1900s. Rates start at $154 a night.

Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Photo credit: Bizzy Bunch

Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

This majestic hotel nestled on 15 acres of gardens near the Ozark Mountains was built in 1886 by Eureka Springs Improvement Committee. Many people flocked to the hotel during the early years because the Eureka Springs were said to be "healing waters," so people from near and far came in hopes of finding a cure for their many ailments. After a few years, many people realized the springs had no healing powers, so fewer people flocked to the hotel causing it to shut down. From 1908 to 1924, it was used as a conservatory for young girls. Then, in 1930, Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into a cancer hospital. Since he had no medical training, it's reported that more than 300 people died on the hotel's fourth floor. Because of this, the Crescent is known to be one of the most haunted hotels in America.

After years of deterioration after the World Wars and several rehabilitation attempts, the resort was finally restored to its original beauty in 1997 after $5 million in renovations. The hotel's 72 guest rooms and suites are decorated in period colors and with stunning, one-of-a-kind antiques, like sleigh beds, ornate patina mirrors, Victorian furniture (like plush lounges) and vintage parlors. Rooms start at $119 a night.

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite, California
Photo credit: Noah Hawthorne

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite, California

The Ahwahnee Hotel was built in the early 1920s on land that was once home to the native Miwok Indian Tribe. Situated in the heart of Yosemite National Park, this hotel sees thousands of visitors a year, mostly for the view, accommodations and the rich history the hotel offers. Because of the hotel's location, the design and architecture was especially arduous, using almost 5,000 tons of stone, 1,000 tons of steel and 30,000 feet of timber. To prevent the Ahwahnee from fire damage (a common fate for hotels in this area), the outside was made of concrete that was poured into molds and dyed to look like redwood.

The hotel was open for guests in the 1930s and 40s until it was turned into a convalescent hospital for Navy veterans. Once it was converted back to a hotel, the Ahwahnee saw many renovations and refurbishes, including a $4 million roof overhaul. The Y-shaped hotel has 99 guest rooms, each decorated in a Native American theme with rich woods and dark colors. There are also 24 private cottages. Stanley Kubrick, director of The Shining, had the great lobby and hall of the movie modeled after that of the Ahwahnee. Rates start at more than $450 a night.

Gettysburg Hotel, Gettysburg, Pa
Photo credit: Ron Cogswell

Gettysburg Hotel, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Built in 1797, the Gettysburg Hotel sits just a few feet away from where President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address in 1863. The hotel was originally opened by James Scott as a tavern and was later transformed into an inn. In addition to the Gettysburg address, the hotel was in proximity to the grueling three-day battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Because of the number of casualties in Gettysburg during the Civil War, the hotel (like the rest of the city) is said to be haunted by soldiers and unlucky civilians. About a century after the Civil War, the hotel became home to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served as a base for his national operations during the Cold War and as a place to recover from a near fatal heart attack.

Post World War changes to the hotel and a decrease in American travel in the 1960s caused the hotel to close its doors. It wasn't until years later when new management (Best Western Hotels) bought the property and did an expensive renovation and the hotel was able to re-open. Each of the 119 rooms still has a very antique feel with vintage furniture and period timepieces from the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s. The grand formal ballroom, which was added in 1814, has high ceilings, vintage chandeliers and is a popular spot for weddings. Rooms begin at $100 a night.

More historic getaways

Checking in: Historic desert getaways
A summer getaway to Washington, D.C.
Checking in: Destination exploration