Many of the most luxurious vintage hotels we’ve featured here were built during the peak of the Industrial Revolution — around the turn of the 20th century.
Usually commissioned by titans of industry or finance, these opulent buildings were intended to put their wealth and influence on prominent display in their respective communities.
And while the building exteriors were beautiful — like the facade of New York City’s Plaza hotel here — the interiors were what really shined.
Take as just one example, the Secor Hotel (hotel #21 on the numbered list below) in downtown Toledo, Ohio:
Around the turn of the century, members of Toledo’s elite sought to use their influence to create their own vision of the city.
Jay K. Secor, vice-president of The Commercial Savings Bank and Trust Company of Toledo, and Arthur J Secor, a prominent member of the Secor-Berdan company… created the Secor Hotel, a premier hotel in the heart of Downtown Toledo.
The ten-story, 400 room hotel opened in 1908 and earned national acclaim as the first fire-proof hotel between New York City and Chicago. This luxurious hotel demonstrates the Secor family’s influence in Toledo, emphasized by its appropriation of Florentine palace architecture.
Built before the common use of sleek glass, polished metal and all kinds of plastic materials, these stately buildings were often created with stone and rich woods, imported marble, plaster, brass and wrought iron.
Highly skilled artisans contributed the elaborately designed and handcrafted wood and plasterwork details.
Here, we have found 20 pictures of some of the most gorgeous historical hotel lobbies from across the US. Have a scroll and step back in time with us to a more elegant era!
1. Hermitage Hotel lobby – Nashville, Tennessee (1910)
2. Olympic Hotel lobby – Seattle Washington (Colorized)
3. The West Foyer of the Astoria Hotel (1903)
4. Hotel Utica, reception lobby, Utica, N.Y. (1910)
5. Palace Hotel lobby – San Francisco [Colorized] (1900s)
In many of these historical hotel photos, you will notice skylights and soaring atriums. In an era when electrical lighting was still new (and could get expensive), these glass ceilings filled the space below with natural light, and — even today — would be considered an impressive architectural feature.
6. Carlton Hotel lobby (1918)
7. Historical hotel lobby and grand staircase, Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Virginia – Colorized (1900s)
8. Claypool Hotel lobby — Indianapolis, Indiana – Colorized (c1903)
Article excerpt from the The Indianapolis News (Indiana) May 9, 1903
The grand lobby is said to be the largest hotel lobby in the United States. It is a 98 feet long and 72 feet wide and the richly decorated ceiling, supported by 16 massive columns, is 33 feet high. It reaches up to two stories and the second floor of the house serving as a ballroom.
The appearance of this Grand lobby is impressive. It is of a rich Grecian style of architecture done entirely in marble, imitation marble, architectural iron, burnished brass, and mahogany.
Its chief characteristic is the 16 beautiful 24-foot columns that, resting on the beautiful base of the gray Livido marble, are topped with pilasters and capitols of the same marble. These columns are 3 feet in diameter and are splendid imitations of Sienna marble.
All of the walls on the lower floor of this are the same material, which has a rich reddish brown color.
9. The New Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C. — Lobby (1900s)
10. View of the Main Lobby, Book – Cadillac Hotel, Detroit, Mich. (1900-1910)
11. Marble stair in historical hotel foyer, Murray Hill Hotel (1900s)
12. Office and foyer, Murray Hill Hotel, New York, N.Y [Colorized] (1905)
13. Lobby, Hotel Belmont, New York (1906)
14. Hotel Knickerbocker lobby – New York (1909)
15. Lobby of Saint Charles Hotel, New Orleans Louisiana (1914)
16. Reception Lobby, The Tutwiler — Birmingham, Alabama (1900s)
17. Historical Hotel Grand Staircase and Lobby, Hotel Touraine, Boston, Mass. (1900s)
18. Lobby of the Hotel Pfister, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1900s)
19. Vintage Hotel Rochester — Lobby (1900s)
20. Mark Hopkins Hotel — San Francisco (1920s)
21. The Lobby, Secor Hotel, Toledo – Colorized (1900s)
22. Lounge in foyer, Murray Hill Hotel, New York, N.Y (1905)