From midcentury escapes tucked in the desert to Deco resorts with big city flair, there’s something intoxicating about hotels with history. In honor of summer travel season, we’re taking a virtual walk through the halls of some of the coolest retro getaways. Just keep your ears perked in case the walls decide to whisper any secrets of decadent days gone by.
Hotel Molitor Paris, Paris, France
With its mustard yellow facade and white balustrades, Hotel Molitor’s pool looks like it lives anywhere but Paris. In 1929, Olympic gold medalist Johnny Weissmuller took the first dip in its crystal waters; it was also where the bikini was debuted in 1946. Celebrities lounged on its deck until it closed in the 80’s, becoming home to squatters and, later, raves. The hotel and pool have since reopened with all their original splendor, plus some graffiti adopted from the darker days.
The Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA
Situated in the mecca of midcentury modern design, The Parker is a fever dream of pattern, color, and style. The hotel was built in 1959 as California’s first Holiday Inn and purchased by singer Gene Autry. In 2003, Jonathan Adler was enlisted to give the hotel a major facelift adding millions in lacquered furnishings, shaggy rugs, and cheeky vintage wall décor. It heralded the renaissance of Palm Springs and remains one of its most stylist stays.
El Cortez Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
El Cortez is the epitome of vintage Vegas. Opened in 1941 by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel, this historic joint still has plenty of old-school gangster charm — the slot machines actually take real quarters. It’s the longest continually operating hotel and casino in Vegas, plus it’s one of the few with its original neon facade still intact.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV
Designed by the legendary Dorothy Draper, the Greenbrier is an impeccable blend of Southern charm and Hollywood Regency style. Infused with bold colors, florals, and plaids, the checkerboard floors and spiral staircases have been tread by presidents, socialites, and even royalty.
The Maritime, New York, NY
Welcome to the swingin’ 60s. Shaped like an ocean-liner, this Manhattan hotel was once home to the National Maritime Union, hence its name and sailor style. Smooth leathers and a brilliant palette of rich navy and hunter green decorate the lobby and rooms. Can’t you imagine Don Draper taking a break from the office in one of those chrome and leather armchairs?
Hotel Saratoga, Havana, Cuba
This minty green neoclassical glamour den housed artists, socialites, and writers in the 1930s. Hotel Saratoga is a dreamland of pre-Cold War Cuba, it’s palm-filled atrium a Euro-Cubano mix of flavors. We can totally see Ernest Hemingway smoking a cigar and enjoying a mojito at the bar.
The Raleigh Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
A stay at the Raleigh is like taking a trip back in time to the 1940s. Designed by the legendary L. Murray Dixon, the structure is a true historical gem of Deco décor with interiors sporting pink lounge chairs, vintage tables, and terrazzo floors. But the hotel’s main attraction is its shapely outdoor pool.
Ruschmeyer’s, Montauk, NY
Ruschmeyer’s throws it back to the idyllic days of summer camp, its purpose when it was built in the 1950s. The property was transformed into a hotel for the cool kids of the Hamptons with Moroccan rugs, macramé, and wicker peacock headboards in the guestrooms. But the mess hall-style restaurant, lobby, and sandy outdoor areas still give off the vibes of a carefree day at a classic East Coast camp.
The Lord Milner Hotel, Matjiesfontein, South Africa
The Lord Milner Hotel has the charm of a Wes Anderson film set and the history of a vintage encyclopedia Britannica. The Victorian era building began as a health hideaway, then a hospital for British officers during the South African War, and not much about it has changed since. The halls still have their same carved wood finishes and ancient chandeliers. But with its quaint, vintage beauty comes rumors of its paranormal activity. Nevertheless, it’s been frequented by legends like Winston Churchill and other notables seeking R&R and inspiration.
The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA
The Beverly Hills Hotel is the belle of the ball when it comes to retro glamor. This pink palace is recognized for its vibrant facade, green striped lounge chairs and ever popular banana leaf wallpaper, but it’s even more famous for the slew of celebrity guests that have stayed and partied over the years. In the early 20th century, the hotel played host to A-listers like Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson followed by Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Marilyn Monroe was known to sunbathe by the pool and John Lennon and Yoko Ono often nested away in the suites. Today, the hotel is as glamorous as ever and is commonly used for film and photoshoots.