In a state filled with luxurious resorts and hotels offering beyond-the-world experiences, those that emanate "Old Florida" essence are held especially high in regard. Leaving one speechless just from looking at them, one will never forget the experience of staying or forgive themselves for not visiting one of these incredible Historic Hotels of America in Florida.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa, An Autograph Collection, St. Augustine
With St. Augustine as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, it is considered a cultural honor that the city of such high regard embraced Casa Monica Resort & Spa. The hotel was opened in 1888 as Flagler's first, under the name "Cordova Inn," to attract business to his expanding railroad onto Florida's east coast. Restored to its past glory, the Moorish Revival-style hotel features original artwork in the hand-painted Italian tiles, Spanish tapestries, frescoes, and golf-leafed archways. Set in the heart of the downtown with a grand fountain in front, it is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. The rooms known for their "elegance at its finest" have hosted the King and Queen of Spain, while there are also the Costa Brave Mediterranean restaurant, the Cobalt Lounge, and the luxurious Poseidon Spa.
Colony Hotel & Cabana Club, Delray Beach
The incredible hotel was designed by an associate of Addison Mizner and built in 1926 in the romantic signature style of the Flagler era, known for Florida Mediterranean architecture. The three bright yellow stories topped by twin domed towers feature the classic resort-vibe yellow-and-red-striped awnings hinting at Old Florida. Centrally set in Delray Beach's vibrant downtown in the surroundings of stylish boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, there is also the Colony Porch Bar and retail store entrances from Atlantic Avenue into the building. The eco- and pet-friendly hotel is a family-owned and operated Colony Hotel, a chain known for bold features, tropical décor, and high-tech amenities. The Colony Cabaña Club offers a private beach and various pools with a tropically-infused atmosphere of the swaying palms, arching sea grapes, and ocean breezes.
The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach
The luxury Mediterranean-style hotel on the sugary sands of St. Pete Beach Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, was built in 1928 to resemble a castle, with an instant claim-to-fame as "Florida's Pink Castle." With its European grandeur, seaside elegance, and the enchantment of the bygone days, the hotel is the epitome of America's traditional beach resorts at sunsets. Having played host to various celebrities, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, it is no surprise that the hotel highlights the opulent Gatsby-era with its Moorish components and lush landscaping. The 10-story masterpiece with balconies and terraces features the renovated 277 luxury rooms and 36 suites, two heated pools, Spa Oceana, and enticing seafood at the Maritana Grille restaurant.
The Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande
The hotel dates back to 1913, when the mega-wealthy traveled in personal railroad cars, with Boca Grande as their favorite hideaway. The Gasparilla Inn hosted the likes of Henry Ford, the late President George H.W. Bush, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, and Katharine Hepburn. Set at the heart of the island, the premier destination features a pale yellow wooden frame and Victorian-style gable roofs. Upon stepping through the pillared entrance into the lobby, guests get instantly tranquilized by the Old Floridian vibe of the classic resort from the yesteryear. The 163 charming hotel rooms and cottages open seasonally from October to July offer breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor. The resort amenities include the Pete Dye championship golf course and the beach club with a full-service spa, a salon, and its own private beach.
Belleview Inn, St. Petersburg
Belleview Inn was built by the railroad and steamship entrepreneur of the 19th century, Henry B. Plant. The magnate believed that his clientele base of passengers would grow if they had a place to stay upon arriving via one of his new railways into St. Petersburg. Erecting a palatial Queen Anne-style Victorian hotel in 1897, "Belleview" exuded the grandeur of the Gilded Age. Quickly gaining a vast reputation among its haunted crowd of the rich and the famous, it hosted many Hollywood celebrities throughout the years. Expending accordingly to its growing popularity, the final measurement of 400,000 square feet made it the largest wooden-frame structure in the state for many years. Renamed "Belleview Inn" in 2018, one of America's most incredible historic hotels is known among the top charming retreats in the country today.
La Concha Hotel & Spa, Key West
Literary legends and dignitaries like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and President Harry S. Truman found contentment and inspiration in Key West's scenic beauty and rich culture. Screaming of history and playfully notorious nightlife, La Concha Hotel & Spa was opened to serve guests on Duval Street on the island. The peacock-colored ceilings and dark wood furnishings were inspired by the desirable location, while the emanating vintage charm and contemporary elegance are accentuated through the esteemed, highly-personalized service of the hotel. Bringing the history of Key West back to life, there is also a haunting legend that it has hosted guests long gone.
The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection, St. Petersburg
Commissioned by the Pennsylvania businessman Aymer Vinoy Laughner in 1923, the architect Henry L. Taylor designed the hotel to reflect the grandeur of the golden age as a salmon-colored Mediterranean Revival building overlooking the Tampa Bay. Worth $3.5 million to erect, The Vinoy Park Hotel proudly opened on New Year's Eve in 1925 with 362 luxurious guestrooms but struggled in the years leading up to WWII. By the time it closed from disrepair for over 20 years in 1974, it had hosted the likes of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Marilyn Monroe, and Babe Ruth. Upon undergoing $93 million worth of restoration and expansion efforts, one of Florida's most luxurious resorts now features a guest tower, a 74-slip marina, and an 18-hole golf course.
Emanating the dominant presence of age, these hotels need not beg to be admired. Their absorbing atmospheres and the complementing extravagant locale will leave lasting memories. Discover more historic hotels in Florida here!
About Historic Hotels of America®
Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has more than 300 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.