The Union Station Nashville Yards in Tennessee offers a little history with luxury — Photo courtesy of The Union Station Nashville Yards
Across the country hoteliers have restored classic buildings to their original glory. Old libraries are now boutique hotels, refurbished roadside inns have morphed into modern getaways, and fire stations have been transformed into super stylish accommodations.
These 10 boutique hotels are living their best second lives, with plenty of destination-worthy character, charm, and personality for your next road trip or vacation.
The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California
A collection of late 1920s bungalows, once part of Camp San Luis Obispo in California, is now The Pacific Motel — Photo courtesy of The Pacific Motel
When an interior-design pro and landscape architect take over a roadside motel, good things happen. Thanks to Ryan and Marisa Fortini, this 1950s roadside inn was transformed into The Pacific Motel. Quite the looker, the six historic bungalows, which once served as military barracks at Camp San Luis Obispo, are now airy, white-washed beauties.
Inside, rooms feature works by local artists, gas fireplaces, and well-stocked minibars. Outside, succulents, citrus trees, and palms decorate the grounds. Sit around the communal fire pit or go exploring on complimentary bikes. Bonus: The adorable property is two blocks from the beach.
Walk to Hidden Kitchen for blue corn tacos and smoothies and then take a quick drive to Cambria for a yoga sesh and therapeutic massage at Vyana Wellness Collective.
Amigo Motor Lodge, Salida, Colorado
Amigo Motor Lodge is an Instagram-worthy stay in Salida — Photo courtesy of Anthony Barlach
Built in the ’50s, the Amigo Motor Lodge is now a stylish boutique hotel with a blend of minimalism and Southwestern accents. Streamlined rooms have Tuft and Needle mattresses and Malin + Goetz bath products. There’s also a communal hot tub, sun room, and fireplace, plus grab-and-go brekkie to start your day.
It’s the perfect location to explore the area: Drive to Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort where you could easily lounge for hours, or check out downtown Salida only a mile away. For climbers, there are more 14ers around here than anywhere else in Colorado. (For the rest of us, that’s mountain peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet.)
Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
The Hotel Colorado once served as a temporary White House — Photo courtesy of Hotel Colorado
No expense was spared when Hotel Colorado was built in 1893. Guests were wowed by the indoor waterfall, bird sanctuary, Victorian garden, and European-style spa. Former presidents Taft, Hoover, and Roosevelt all stayed here. The hotel was once a temporary White House and later transformed into a hospital for wounded World War II sailors and soldiers.
Fast forward to today, and it’s still a bucket-list hotel stay. The rooms have all been updated with chic yet comfortable decor; there are two restaurants that serve classic mountain cuisine, plus two bars (and an outdoor lounge during warmer months). The Rocky Mountain surroundings are drop-dead gorgeous any time of year.
There’s plenty to do nearby, from hiking in a national forest and Glenwood Caverns to visiting year-round hot springs, including Glenwood Springs. Iron Mountain Hot Springs has 32 pools, therapeutic cold plunges, and cafes offering everything from pizza to charcuterie boards.
Detroit Foundation Hotel, Detroit, Michigan
The building that houses the Detroit Foundation Hotel was once a fire station — Photo courtesy of Detroit Foundation Hotel
From locally crafted headboards made of repurposed automobile hoods to custom wallpaper collages, the creators of the Detroit Foundation Hotel have carefully thought out every detail.
Built in 1929, the structure was originally two buildings: One housed a fire station, the other a wine cellar. The 100-room hotel boasts the original facades of both buildings, decorative terra cotta panels, and the original red firehouse doors.
The Union Station Nashville Yards, Nashville, Tennessee
The hotel’s clock tower features a statue of Mercury, the Roman god of shopkeepers, transporters of goods, and travelers — Photo courtesy of The Union Station Nashville Yards
Standing in the lobby of The Union Station Nashville Yards, it’s easy to imagine it back in the early 1900s as a bustling train station.
The barrel-vaulted ceiling, marble floors, limestone fireplace, and stained glass transports guests back to a time when Al Capone was around. In fact, he traveled through the station to a Georgia penitentiary in 1934. The front desk was originally a newspaper stand. Even the original clock in the tower has a superlative — it was claimed as the world’s first digital clock.
Couples have been getting married in front of the fireplace lobby since 1915. Book a room with a marble soaking tub for the win.
Freehand Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Freehand Los Angeles is housed in a refurbished commerce building — Photo courtesy of Freehand Los Angeles
If you dig vintage furniture and great outdoor space, spend a few nights at the Freehand Los Angeles, a unique boutique hotel housed inside the refurbished 1924 Commercial Exchange Building in the heart of downtown L.A. It has a lot going for it, especially the close proximity to the Metro and great neighborhoods, like the Arts District and Fashion District, and loads of nightlife, concerts, and sporting events at L.A. Live.
Get to know your fellow travelers around the rooftop pool, hit the fitness center, or stop at the specialty coffee bar when you need a coffee or tea fix. With private rooms, suites, and studios — plus dorm rooms and quads that host up to eight people — the Freehand is both hotel and hostel, with a bellman, daily housekeeping, valet, and retail shop.
The real perks: Easy access to Broken Shaker, the award-winning rooftop bar with 360-degree views of L.A., The Exchange restaurant, Cafe Integral, and Rudolph’s Bar and Tea.
The Drayton Hotel, Savannah, Georgia
The Drayton Hotel is deeply rooted in Savannah’s history — Photo courtesy of Digital Love
Located in Savannah’s historic district, the five-star Drayton Hotel breathes new life to one of Savannah’s oldest buildings. Originally the America Trust and Bank Building, in 2019 it was lovingly restored to its 19th century splendor. From the original brick facade to the herringbone-brick flooring to the hand-painted wall art, this beautiful hotel has plenty of aesthetic appeal.
Make time for memorable meals and creative cocktails at St. Neo’s Brasserie, plus time to soak up vitamin D on the rooftop. When you’re ready for a walk about, head to local attractions like the Savannah City Market and Ellis Square, and grab a bite at The Olde Pink House.
Greyfield Inn, Cumberland Island, Georgia
The Carnegie family once lived in what is now the Greyfield Inn — Photo courtesy of Gabriel Hanway
Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island is home to a national seashore where wild horses outnumber humans and history abounds. For instant nostalgia, stay at the Greyfield Inn, which was built in 1900 and remains the only hotel on the island.
Once a home to (and still overseen by) the Carnegie family, you’ll be surrounded by 100-year-old oaks trees draped in Spanish moss. With no televisions and spotty cell service, you have no choice but to relax. The all-inclusive, 15-room inn offers Southern-style breakfast, picnic lunches, farm-fresh dinners, and snacks.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the bikes and kayaks to explore 200 acres of private land, including 18 miles of coastal beach, plus oak-lined trails, nearby marshes, and maritime forests.
The Madrona, Healdsburg, California
Built in 1881 as a private residence, The Madrona is a Sonoma County icon — Photo courtesy of Tanveer Badal
This Victorian mansion was build as a private home in 1881, and 100 years later it became an inn and restaurant now known as The Madrona. After renovations in 2021, the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has a contemporary feel throughout, from the rooms to the restaurant and communal spaces.
Stay in the the mansion or the carriage house; if you’d like a bit more privacy, opt for one of the bungalows in separate buildings that date back to 1861. Be sure to save time for hyper-local meals at the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant.
When you’re ready to wander off property, Sonoma County has plenty to keep you busy. There are wineries everywhere, or simply grab a complimentary bike and head downtown to explore the myriad shops, galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants.
Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colorado
The Hotel Jerome is Aspen’s original luxury hotel — Photo courtesy of The Hotel Jerome
Built in 1889 at the foot of Aspen Mountain, the Hotel Jerome was Aspen’s original luxury hotel. By 1893, though, the town’s economy tanked due to the silver crash. The hotel managed to stay up and running as a boardinghouse but later fell into disrepair.
After World War II, Hotel Jerome welcomed visitors again. And not just any visitors — movies stars and famous writers like Hunter S. Thompson stayed there.
Fast forward to the ’80s when the hotel had a major renovation that brought it back to its Victorian beauty once again. With several restaurants on site, you’ll be perfectly content.