Come for the hotel, stay for the city.
The Midwest is often overlooked when it comes to architecture, but there are some incredible historic hotels that have stood the test of time. Step into one of these, and you’ll be transported by the details from the floor to the ceiling. Typically, hotels may just be a place to stay at night, but you’ll want to make a special trip just to see the following hotels.
Top Picks for You
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
Once home to the exclusive “boys club” of Chicago, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel on Grant Park has retained much of its original structure while elevating certain aspects with a modern twist. Originally taking inspiration from the Doge’s Palace in Venice, you can see the borrowed Venetian gothic architecture simply from the facade. The best part of the Chicago Athletic Association? The historic touches don’t end at the front lobby, with vintage-style furniture decking the hotel rooms. An ode to the old athletic club, guests are supplied with boxer-style bathrobes that give them an added punch.
Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Plaza
WHERE: Cincinnati, Ohio
The Hilton Cincinnati Netherlands Plaza occupies a large section of Carew Tower, one of the first mixed-use buildings in the United States. The tower was designed to be a city within the city, with everything you needed under one roof. If you’re looking for details, you’ll find more than enough on every corner as the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza is decked out in French Art Deco. Intricate wood and metal engravings and mosaic marble make the national historic landmark full of hidden designs.
Indianapolis Bottleworks Hotel
WHERE: Indianapolis, Indiana
The newly-opened Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis was once the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottling factory (bottling up to 2 million glass bottles per week). Originally built in the 1930’s, the Instagram-worthy stairwell is a magnificent example of art deco. The rest of the hotel is a blend of old and new, with original terrazzo tiling and brass doors along with new mid-century modern styling and art.
Union Station Hotel
WHERE: St. Louis, Missouri
The Union Station Hotel was once one of the busiest train stations in the world, opening as the United States’ largest terminal in 1894. With a neo-romanesque facade that might remind you of a castle, the hotel lobby is just as enchanting with original terrazzo flooring and vibrant green terracotta bricks. Stay awhile and you’ll be able to catch the daily 3D light show splashed across the ceiling of the old train station in a dazzling medley of modern and historic.
WHERE: Louisville, Kentucky
The legendary Brown Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, having been a part of Louisville’s history since the 1920s. While the Georgian Revival exterior may catch the eye of some, it’s the interior that really wows, filled with meticulously lavish details reminiscent of the English Renaissance era such as the Palladian-style windows and Bottocino limestone floors. If you get a chance, you can’t miss the hand-painted ceilings of the Crystal Ballroom.
WHERE: Columbus, Ohio
The Hotel LeVeque offers a slick rendition of Art Deco without dating itself, featuring terracotta relief tiles from the original 1927 exterior. Modern touches such as the celestial lighting fixtures lighten up the mood to bring a complex experience to guests. When the building was first built as a life insurance building, it was the fifth tallest building in the world. Now, it’s a historic landmark and a staple of the Columbus skyline.
WHERE: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
One of the Historical Hotels of America, the Pfister Hotel was built in 1893 and features Romanesque Revival design. The hotel’s dazzling details include hand-painted gold leaf on the ceiling murals and regal marble staircases. The largest Victorian art collection of any hotel can be found here as well, decking the halls of the Pfister.
West Baden Springs Hotel
WHERE: West Baden Springs, Indiana
The West Baden Springs Hotel was once dubbed the eighth wonder of the world because of how stunning its architecture was, especially having been built in 1902. With a glass dome spanning 200 feet, the hotel had the largest dome in the United States for more than a half-century. The mosaic terrazzo tiling and Rookwood ceramic fireplace stand out in this Moorish Revival style National Historic Landmark.
Hotel Kansas City
WHERE: Kansas City, Missouri
The Hotel Kansas City was initially built to be a social club in the 1920s, and hints of that former life can be found in the vintage-style furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows, marble fireplaces, hand-painted murals, and stunning light fixtures are just a few of the exquisite characteristics that make this hotel stand apart with its Gothic Revival structure. It’s also now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Historic Hilton Chicago
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
Just recently reopened after a year in quarantine, the Historic Hilton Chicago is known for its stunning stairwell and for hosting dignitaries from Queen Elizabeth II to former President Barack Obama. Featuring Beaux-Arts architecture, it was the world’s largest hotel when it opened in 1927, and it is now registered as one of the Historic Hotels of America.