How do you find a truly majestic hotel? Just ask a president. After all, it’s only natural for powerful heads of state to get some rest at the best of the best. Although you may not get there via private plane, you can nevertheless enjoy regal accommodations, grand architecture, and views fit for a commander-in-chief at properties where presidents have slept. From rustic national-park chalets to ritzy city lodgings, these nine grand hotels promise a perfectly top-level stay.
Editor’s note: Some hotels on this list are temporarily closed or offering limited amenities due to the pandemic. Confirm with the property before booking, and follow all travel restrictions at your destination.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Hawaii
Every president from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama has stayed at The Kahala, a luxurious Honolulu property that hosts celebrities and powerful dignitaries alike. The rich and influential can choose from several extravagant suites, including the Penthouse Imperial Suite and the aptly named Presidential Suite; the former includes a private boardroom where big kahunas can make key policy decisions before hitting a few golf balls at the nearby Luana Hills Country Club.
The Grove Park Inn, North Carolina
Ten U.S. presidents have stayed at this majestic Southern resort, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grand property overlooks Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers on-site activities galore, from a highly rated golf course to a full-service spa. Spend a night in the posh Presidential Suite and you’ll literally be staying in the exact same room where heads of state once slept.
Hawthorne Hotel, Massachusetts
President George H. W. Bush is one of many luminaries to have slept at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. (Other noteworthy former guests include Walter Cronkite and Colin Powell.) But the historic property is famous for its paranormal guests as well as its many prominent living ones. Rumored to be haunted, the Hawthorne is located on a former orchard owned by Bridget Bishop, the first person to be executed in the Salem witch trials.
Hotel Del Coronado, California
Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S. president to visit the Hotel del Coronado, and since his stay, 11 commanders in chief (plus British royalty), have been to this iconic National Historic Landmark. Frequent guest Franklin Roosevelt reportedly adored the sweeping Pacific views afforded by the Del’s ocean-facing rooms.
El Tovar Hotel, Arizona
What’s more American than visiting a national park? Sleeping where U.S. presidents have slept—in a national park. Seven presidents have stayed at El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park, a historical property once frequented by Teddy Roosevelt. The luxurious hotel, a Registered National Historic Landmark, has a restaurant with a view of the rim, as well as classic American decor. And guest rooms have balconies overlooking the Grand Canyon—a view, undoubtedly, fit for a president.
Waldorf Astoria, New York
The Waldorf Astoria, a world-famous Big Apple landmark, unsurprisingly draws world leaders to its gilded halls. Barack Obama has stayed in the property’s four-bedroom Presidential Suite, as has George H.W. Bush. According to ABC News, Bush was a big fan of the Waldorf’s cuisine. Former executive chef John Doherty said of the 41st POTUS, “Everybody made a big deal of him not liking broccoli, but he was a real foodie. He loved everything and wanted to talk about the food and what was in it and how it was prepared.”
Note that the Waldorf Astoria is currently closed for renovations, but will likely feel even more presidential when it reopens.
The Hay-Adams, Washington, D.C.
You can’t get much closer to the President’s abode than The Hay-Adams. The hotel’s roof deck offers a unique, direct view of the White House. Built on the site where President Lincoln’s personal secretary and former Secretary of State John Hay once resided, The Hay-Adams has hosted a number of presidential guests since it opened in 1928 and was used as Obama’s temporary base before he moved into the White House in 2009.)
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, Canada
Former presidents Reagan and George W. Bush have stayed within the rustic wooden halls of Le Chateau Montebello, one of the largest log cabins in the world. The property was used as an exclusive retreat for members of the Seigniory Club, a prestigious organization whose members included the rich and powerful, before it became a hotel in the 1970s. These days, bigwigs still visit (Montebello hosted NATO and G7 summits in the ’80s), but members of the regular public are equally welcome to spend the night in this grand chateau.
The Ahwahnee, California
Presidential guests can enjoy sweeping views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point from the historical Ahwahnee, a property nestled in Yosemite National Park. Reportedly, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy have stayed at the lodge, which is widely considered the most luxurious property within Yosemite. One thing to keep in mind when visiting Ahwahnee: Plan your trip in advance—well in advance, that is. Many travel experts recommend booking six months to a year ahead of time to secure a room here, especially during high season. (Though we have a feeling special exceptions are made for heads of state.) Note that the Ahwahnee is temporarily closed at the moment.
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