Sometimes the best part of the trip is where you sleep. R.I.P. to these bygone institutions.
One of the travel industry’s saddest casualties during the COVID-19 pandemic? The shuttering of storied hotels. All that gold and glam served as key moments in history, inviting presidents, celebrities, and other public figures through their doors. Architecturally profound, they also hosted a bevy of delicious chef-driven restaurants and other services for guests, like resort-grade spas and watering holes where you just might make a new friend.
From New York City to Beverly Hills—and, abroad, in places like England, Ireland, Australia, St. Kitts, and French Polynesia—here are the hotels with distinct personalities you can no longer check into but really should check out. It’s not just grand dames that have closed, but also innovative boutique hotels, beachfront resorts, and casino properties.
The Roosevelt Hotel
WHERE: New York City
Standing in the soaring, ornate lobby of this Midtown 1,015-room hotel was a moment paired with the reminder that the building was constructed in 1924 (and named for President Theodore Roosevelt) at a cost of $12 million, no luxury spared. After all, George Browne Post (founder of the firm that led the hotel’s design) also designed the Vanderbilt Mansion on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (later razed for Bergdorf Goodman’s store). At closing time this past July, the hotel operated three food-and-beverage units (Roosevelt Grill, Madison Club lounge, and Vander Bar) and was a frequent meeting space for businesses and organizations. If it looks familiar, you may have seen the hotel in Maid in Manhattan starring Jennifer Lopez.
Omni Berkshire Place Hotel
WHERE: New York City
Don’t be fooled: even though this 395-room property was part of a chain and tucked into Midtown’s business district near Rockefeller Center, the interior was steeped in Classical Revival style. Past guests included film director Alfred Hitchcock and Rodgers and Hammerstein, who met here while writing Oklahoma! (a suite was created in their honor called). The hotel’s June closure also means no more noshing or imbibing on property, which is a shame since patrons include the painter Salvador Dali and singer Frank Sinatra.
Ace Hotel London Shoreditch
WHERE: London, England
A true shocker considering the overall success of the Ace Hotels brand and that this 258-room property only opened in 2013 in London’s East End–the hotel announced its permanent closure in September. Tucked into the Shoreditch arts district, it was built in the shell of the former Shoreditch Empire music hall, retaining the exterior bricks but adding new amenities like Hoi Polloi for dining and a rooftop bar.
New York Marriott East Side
WHERE: New York City
Just after the U.S. locked down because of COVID this past March, when things were starting to look grim, the Midtown property announced it was closing for good. It was developed in 1924 as the Shelton Towers by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather, James T. Lee, and shared the same design firm as the Empire State Building, embracing Romanesque Revival design. While initially operating as a men’s club, the hotel later opened its amenities to women and even housed artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who was so influenced by the skyline as seen from her room that she featured it in several paintings. Escape artist Henry Houdini also performed an act at the hotel in 1926.
The Dwell Hotel
WHERE: Chattanooga, Tennessee
If you haven’t heard of this hotel, it might be because it only opened in 2016. Although on a very micro scale and in an off-the-radar city, the 16-room downtown Chattanooga motel, with its fresh reboot, flaunted a chic, midcentury-modern design reflected in curated antique furnishings from the 1950s and 1960s. And the owner who, at 33, bought the motel and restored it, fulfilled a life-long dream. It morphed into a popular wedding venue and lured in locals for breakfast at Syrup and Eggs. In June it went up for sale, citing a decline in guest stays due to COVID-19.
Luxe Rodeo Drive
WHERE: Beverly Hills, California
Proof that affluent communities—like the 90210 zip code—aren’t immune from economic disasters is in the closing of this 88-room boutique hotel in September, on one of the most famous streets in America. It was also the only place you could book a room on Rodeo Drive, shouldered by luxury-apparel boutiques (Michael Kors was literally next door). Vicente Wolf decorated the rooms and the hotel also offered meeting spaces. The hotel opened in 1962 as Beverly Rodeo Hotel, designed by William Krisel, who frequently collaborated with the Alexander Construction Company in Palm Springs on its iconic midcentury-modern ranch homes.
InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
WHERE: French Polynesia
Getting to Tahiti’s blissful beaches has never been easy and was made all the harder for the many concerned with catching COVID-19 while in flight. In late May, the property announced that due to fewer guest arrivals it was closing, taking away the prospect of overwater bungalows and swimming in infinity pools (did we mention the swim-up bar?) as a splurge trip once the pandemic is all over.
WHERE: Laughlin, Nevada
It seems nearly implausible that a hotel partially supported by casino traffic would ever shut down, but travel during the pandemic has affected lots of sectors, slots and poker games included. In early August the homepage of the resort’s website announced that it was closed and no longer taking reservations. With 1,168 rooms across two seven-story towers and boasting views of the Colorado River, the massive property also featured koi ponds, two pools, and three restaurants. In 1980, the resort opened and went through various hands, including Circus Circus Enterprises, Mandalay Resort Group, MGM Mirage, and—most recently—Golden Entertainment.
White Pines Resort
WHERE: Mt. Morris, Illinois
Located a half-hour’s drive south of Rockford, and en route to Starved Rock State Park downstate, this family-owned resort was charming. Guests could sleep in 21 log cabins with canopy beds and soaking tubs, and wake up to all-you-can-eat blueberry pancakes at the restaurant. Couples even hosted their weddings here and many companies held their meetings at the retreat center. Because of this, it was surprising to read a message posted on the homepage of its website in May that the property would not be reopening, citing “the financial situation caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.”
Ocean Terrace Inn
WHERE: St. Kitts
In late March this hotel hugging the beach in the Brumaire area of St. Kitts along Frigate Bay declared it would not be reopening when the Caribbean finally did. The 50-room property was near the capital city of Basseterre and a refreshing alternative to higher room rates at the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts as well as the KOI Resort. On-site for guests’ use was a restaurant, as well as a pool and water views thanks to its hillside perch, with renovations finished as recently as 2015.
The Boston Hotel Buckminster
The Blackman Hotel
WHERE: Melbourne, Australia
In early October, this trendy boutique hotel with artsy guest rooms—and named for the late artist Charles Blackman—made the decision to permanently close and possibly rebrand. Tennis stars like Victoria Azarenka reportedly stayed here during the Australian Open two summers ago, even taking part in a painting class. And paintings by Blackman hung on the walls.
Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn
WHERE: Big Sur, California
Nearby Post Ranch Inn often gets all the press for its luxe accommodations, but this inn, equally deep in the redwoods and along Highway 1, was comprised of rooms crafted from locally-milled redwood in a Nordic style. Before the highway was completed in 1939, original inn owners Helmuth and Helen Deetjen welcomed guests who braved the curvy, coastal roads during the 1930s when they opened. Since that time, the inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and, as the farewell letter from its current owners (a non-profit) states, operated as “a community-centered non-profit dedicated to preserving the time and place of the homesteading era in Big Sur.”
Bristol Harbour Resort
WHERE: South Bristol, New York
Not only did this family-run, 31-room hotel along the Canandaigua Lake close over the summer, it was also razed, erasing any physical reminder of its past life. The owners, who snapped up the property in 2016, stated to the local press that operating during the pandemic—even with an 18-hole golf course, event spaces, marina, and a restaurant—became a challenge with social-distancing concerns.
WHERE: Lake Tahoe, California
In mid-April, this casino with guest rooms, dining, and—of course—the gaming rooms, announced its permanent closure after 35 years of business. (Note that if you were holding onto gaming chips the owners are kindly allowing their redemption at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.) With dog-friendly rooms and mountain views, plus $6.99 breakfast specials and après-ski cocktails, Lakeside Inn was a relaxed, easygoing institution for skiers and nature lovers.