Historic Virginia Hotels

by Mary Freeman

As one of the first areas of the U.S. to be settled -- and with nicknames like "Old Dominion" and the "Mother of Presidents," Virginia is one of this country's most historically rich states. Some historical buildings date back to the birth of our nation, while others represent 1920s architectural movements. History buffs visiting the state have a chance to stay overnight in some of these historic buildings, as many of Virginia's historic hotels still operate.

Shenondoah Valley

The George Washington Hotel, a classic Georgian Revival, is located in Winchester in northern Shenandoah Valley. It was open between 1924 and 1970, and reopened its doors in April 2008 after a $30 million renovation project. All 90 of the hotel's guestrooms have working gas fireplaces and rainfall showers. The Stonewall Jackson Hotel was also built in 1924; the hotel was reopened in 2005 after renovation. The hotel is near the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Frontier Culture Museum and the American Shakespeare Center. Mimslyn Inn, also a Georgian Revival, has been open since 1931 and features antebellum era décor.

Williamsburg

The private, nonprofit organization Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates all of Williamsburg's historic hotels and rental properties. The Williamsburg Lodge's décor is inspired by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. In 2007, the lodge's eight buildings and federal-style guesthouses underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. With rooms averaging 500 square feet, a spring-fed pool, clay tennis courts, award-winning golf course and a spa, the Williamsburg Inn is more of a resort than a hotel. John D. Rockefeller built the hotel in 1937. The organization also rents out 28 buildings, with 76 guest rooms, throughout the Historic Area of Williamsburg. The buildings and houses are complete period reproductions, and housed the likes of presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler.

Blue Ridge Mountains

The Craddock Terry was never a historic hotel. In fact, it was the first shoe factory south of the Mason-Dixon Line and at one time the fifth-largest shoe manufacturer in the world. Today, a hotel sits on the old site of the factory and the adjacent tobacco warehouse. Celebrating the site's history, the hotel provides shoe-related amenities, like breakfast served in an old-fashioned, wooden shoebox. The Boar's Head, a 573-acre resort property, tries to retain its historical quality as much as possible -- many of the rooms still have their original pine beams and paneling. Taverns and inns have operated on the same grounds of the Boar's Head since the 1730s, but the inn was not opened under its current name until 1834.

Elsewhere

The Cavalier Hotel is an expansive beachfront resort on Virginia Beach that first opened its doors in 1927. The hotel promises its guests sunshine, and if they don't get it -- meaning if it rains during their stay -- they get a coupon for a future stay. The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond opened on Halloween in 1895. Since then, it has had its share of notable guests, like 12 U.S. presidents, Whoopi Goldberg, Cindy Crawford and Prince. It is also one of only 37 North American hotels to receive the Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings. The Martha Washington Hotel and Spa, built in 1832, went from a school for girls to a hospital during the Civil War to a women's college to a hotel. The Abingdon Hotel has a separate poolroom with retractable ceiling, and offers its guests a glass of port each night.

About the Author

Mary Freeman is a freelance writer. She has held several editorial positions at the print publication, "The Otter Realm." She traveled throughout Europe, which ultimately resulted in an impromptu move to London, where she stayed for eight months. This life experience inspired her to pursue travel writing. Freeman received a degree in human communication from California State University.