Perhaps you’ve heard the term “grande dame hotel” thrown around. It certainly sounds glamorous—bringing to mind images of crystal chandeliers, dramatic staircases, and white-glove service—but what exactly does it mean?
More than just a place to rest your head, it’s a historic institution. Presidents, royals, and celebs have walked the halls. And if walls could talk, well, let’s just say we can’t even begin to fathom the tales of cocktail-fueled revelry and scandalous trysts they would tell.
Don’t get us wrong, we like bright, shiny things as much as anyone, but there’s something to be said for the lasting appeal of a classic. The landmarks ahead have maintained their high standards and stellar reputation for decades—some upwards of a century. From Hotel del Coronado to The Plaza, these magnificent properties have serious staying power.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Glory may fade, but their grandeur of The Greenbrier has not. “America’s Resort” is a stalwart of luxury with stately façade, manicured gardens, and Dorothy Draper-designed interiors. Since 1778, it has welcomed a whopping 26 presidents. Its trademark blend of gracious hospitality, old-school elegance, and gourmet cuisine continue to capture the attention of discerning travelers. While the world-renowned mineral spa offers a range of relaxing hydrotherapy rituals.
The Plaza, New York, New York
The Plaza—immortalized in Eloise and The Great Gatsby—is a New York landmark with an enviable address and enduring legacy of glamour. Everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt and F. Scott Fitzgerald to Liza Minelli and The Beatles have stayed at the iconic hotel during its reign. Today, Beaux-Arts decor and anticipatory service are complemented by unobstructed views of Central Park. And, of course, afternoon tea at The Palm Court and bubbly at the Champagne Bar remain totally timeless.
Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California
Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Story aspired to build a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” That dream became a reality when Hotel del Coronado opened its doors on February 19, 1888. Over the years, the beachfront beauty has hosted Hollywood stars—Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, and Mae West all stayed here—appeared in films such as The Pearl of Paradise, and become a symbol of the sunny Southern California lifestyle.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sitting at an elevation of 6,230 feet above sea level, the "Grand Dame of the Rockies” is steeped in history. Spacious accommodations are enhanced with contemporary comforts. Guests have access to an array of outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, and fly fishing. The 3,000-acre estate also boasts top-notch tennis and golf facilities as well as a variety of dining options. Sunday brunch at the Lake Terrace Dining Room boasts indulges dishes plus ice sculptures, floral displays, and live piano music.
Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Perched atop the bluffs in the affluent village of Watch Hill, the Ocean House has lured a well-heeled crowd since 1868. A thoughtful renovation with a sensitive use of historic elements, completed in 2010, restored the yellow-and-white Victorian idol to its former majesty. Inside is a treasure trove of coastal hues, custom furnishings, and early New England art. Equally gorgeous are the grounds—a tournament-level croquet lawn, shuffleboard court, and private stretch of white sand.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
The crown jewel of Florida's northeast coast, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (which turns 90 this year) is a living legend. So much so that the town was named after it. There’s a distinct vacation vibe about the AAA Five-Diamond rated property with its ocean vistas, sophisticated seaside ambiance, and lengthy-list of amenities. There’s a championship golf course, tennis courts, four pools, and a posh spa.