Northeast

8 Hotels Where You Can Sleep in the Shadow of Presidents

History lovers will want to check out these eight hotels from D.C. to Nashville where you can sleep surrounded by presidential history.

While our country is relatively young, there’s plenty of history to be explored in this land of purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain. Some of the most captivating historical sites in our nation are the homes, presidential libraries, and museums of our former presidents. In these hallowed halls, one can begin to truly understand and appreciate the complexities and brilliance of these national treasures.

We can see where they sat, where they wrote, and what they and their partners designed, decorated and cherished. These homes have a special sort of gravity about them. You can almost feel the profound responsibility that our nation entrusted them with as you wander these houses.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “I believe that the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.” What better way to learn American history than from within the very walls in which that history was created?

Alexandria, Virginia

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation

“I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.” — George Washington, letter to David Stuart, June 15, 1790

There’s a feeling of reverence and awe that sweeps over you as you enter George Washington’s sprawling estate on the banks of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. Our first president was a well-traveled man, and though he loved our fledgling nation, there was no place more sacred to him than the grounds of his farm, Mount Vernon.

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Grab a cab, or drive the six miles from Washington’s farm over to National Harbor and stay at the Gaylord National Resort. Once at the hotel, take a quick half-mile walk toward the waterfront. There you can ride “The Capital Wheel,” a Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the Potomac River.

Where ya headin'?

A U.S. Rarity

While crossing the Woodrow Wilson bridge (a drawbridge), you’ll be traveling on the only bridge in the U.S. to cross three jurisdictions.

Back inside the Gaylord, meander around the 19-story glass atrium. While there, try to catch the nightly fountain show where water features shoot 60 feet in the air.

If you need to rest your feet after exploring the 8,000 acres at Mount Vernon, book a couples massage. Inside the Gaylord’s Relache spa, you can lie on treatment tables overlooking the same waters that Washington enjoyed from his perch on the opposite side of the river.

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

8.4 Very good (2634 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Charlottesville, Virginia

Photo of Monticello courtesy of Stephanie Gross, Virginia Tourism Corporation

“I, like other people, am so much the dupe of the fondness for the natale solum as to believe seriously there is no quarter of the globe so desirable as America, no state in America so desirable as Virginia, no county in Virginia equal to Albemarle & no spot in Albemarle to compare to Monticello.” — Excerpt of letter from Thomas Jefferson to Alexander Donald, 1795

There may be no other presidential home that was as beloved as Monticello was to its owner, our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson. Situated on the summit of a small peak in the Southwest Mountains, not far from the more well known Blue Ridge Mountain range, Monticello is named for the spot in which it sits. In Italian, “Monticello” means “little mound.”

For the architecturally-minded Jefferson, building and renovating Monticello was a passion project that would continue throughout his life. Not only can his brilliance can be read in the Declaration of Independence, but you can see it in the painstaking efforts he took to perfect Monticello.

Side Trip Tip

James Monroe

Just three miles from Monticello is the more modest home of our fifth president, James Monroe. Try to squeeze in a few hours to explore “Highland,” as it’s known, while exploring Charlottesville.

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There’s no better hub than the Graduate Hotel Charlottesville for exploring Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia, and the 33 local Charlottesville wineries on the Monticello wine trail. Grab a couple of the hotel’s complimentary bikes and explore the idyllic college town of Charlottesville. With a wealth of student populated bars and restaurants in the downtown area, you are sure to find a drink or a meal to please the pickiest of palettes. Bodo’s Bagels is a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for students and alumni. In the evening? Phone in an order of college memories when you scarf down pizza or cheesy bread delivered to the hotel late night from the College Inn.

Don’t miss the campus of UVA. With its covered brick walkways, expansive, lush green lawns, and the white-capped Rotunda which Jefferson famously designed, the school has a quintessential, scholarly air about it. Luckily, the Graduate Hotel is just steps from two of the most visited attractions at UVA. Put a leash on Lucy (the Graduate is pet-friendly), and take her for a jog past the Rotunda, and onto “The Lawn,” the flat grassy quad at the heart of campus.

Consider touring a few of the nearby wineries while you’re in town as well. Blenheim Vineyards is owned by guitarist and frontman, Dave Matthews. (Not a president, but he’d probably poll better than some.)

Not an oenophile? No problem. Hang at the hotel for the night. The rooftop Camp Ten Four bar is frequented by many a local as well as hotel guests. Order a “Wahoo Water.” Though the official UVA mascot is a Cavalier, they are affectionately known by the students as Wahoos. The namesake cocktail is a boozy Capri-Sun-esque concoction made with coconut rum, blue curaçao, pineapple, and lime.

Graduate Charlottesville

8.3 Very good (1374 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Boston, Massachusettes

Michael Browning, Unsplash

A trip to Boston is as an absolute must if one is to truly understand and appreciate the history that surrounds the beginnings of our national identity. Four U.S. presidents are from the state of Massachusetts. But the first? John Adams, our second president, first vice-president, and instrumental voice in fighting for independence in the Continental Congress.

His home, Peacefield, is situated approximately 10 miles south of Boston proper, in the town of Quincy, Massachusetts. Take a day trip to the Adams National Historic Park and tour the birthplace and lifelong homes of not only the second president, but the sixth as well — his son John Quincy Adams. The 188 acres of the original farm remained the home of several generations of the Adams family after the deaths of John, Abigail, John Quincy, and Louisa Adams.

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Try the posh Omni Parker House, the birthplace of “Boston Cream Pie.” This Boston hotel opened in 1855 and today, lays claim to being the longest continuously operated hotel in the entire country. At least four U.S. presidents, as well as Thoreau, Emerson, Babe Ruth, and Malcolm X, have graced the halls of the Parker House.

Just steps off the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, the Omni Parker House is also within blocks of the city’s luxuriant public park (with its own skating rink in the winter and splash park in the summer), the Boston Common. A quick walk (albeit a bit uphill) will take you to the Massachusetts State House, Boston Massacre site, Faneuil Hall, and the Boston Public Market. Or hang a left on Tremont St as you exit the hotel, and walk one block. You’ll find yourself at the Granary Burying Ground. Here you can see where patriots including John Hancock, Robert Paine, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere have all been laid to rest.

Traveling with little ones? Upon check-in, pint-sized travelers in The Omni Kids Club program will receive a backpack complete with card games, binoculars, and coloring book. Even better? Milk and cookies will be delivered to the room on the first night of your stay.

Omni Parker House

Boston, 1 miles to Back Bay
8.2 Very good (11243 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Hyannis Port, Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation, Inc.

Heading south from Boston, stop for a stay in Cape Cod. More specifically, you’re bound for Hyannis Port, home to our 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Hyannis Port is where the famed Kennedy compound sits, looming large from its perch on a pristine bluff overlooking Hyannis Harbor.

The Kennedy compound was gifted to the public following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2012. The plan is for the compound to be used for educational seminars and to eventually be opened for tours by the public. For now, the best (and only) way to get a good look at the compound is by boat.

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The Anchor In Distinctive Waterfront Lodging is the only waterfront hotel on Hyannis Harbor, and a 10-minute walk will take you to the JFK Museum. After soaking in some of the mystique of Camelot, set sail as the Kennedys often did, and enjoy a whale watching trip. Later in the day, take a dip in the heated outdoor pool, or enjoy some sand and surf on one of the local Cape Cod beaches. But don’t lounge too long or you’ll miss the cookies and coffee served in the hotel lobby each afternoon.

Anchor In Distinctive Waterfront Lodging

Top rated
9.1 Excellent (1342 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.4 / 10
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Nashville, Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Traveling to the deep south, Nashville, Tennessee is the home to our seventh president, one of the most malicious to assume the office (Indian Removal Act and Trail of Tears, anyone?), Andrew Jackson. Head to The Hermitage, a 425-acre farm Jackson purchased in 1804, and lived in with his wife, Rachel.

Often described as one of the best preserved presidential homes, Jackson’s Hermitage provides an uncommon and authentic look into early 19th-century life on a prominent southern plantation. There are several different touring options. Favorites among them include traversing parts of the vast 1000-acre property via horse-drawn wagon to give you a glimpse into the way Jackson may have seen the landscape as he traveled the property.

Jackson was many things, least of which was a brave soldier. Fighting in the revolutionary war at the tender age of 13, then later serving as a general in the War of 1812 where he earned the nickname “Old Hickory” thanks to his firm resolve, courage, and steadfastness.

Test your nerves at night by joining in on one of the lantern-lit ghost tours held in the autumn. Tour the mansion, and follow the guide as you’re led to Jackson’s tomb where you’ll hear the legends of the Bell Witch, and supernatural stories of the Battle of New Orleans.

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Though not the closest hotel to the Hermitage plantation, you won’t be disappointed by taking the 16-mile trip into the center of Nashville to stay at The Hermitage Hotel. Named for Jackson’s plantation, and notable for its textbook example of the Beaux-Arts architecture style, this hotel opened in 1910. The Hermitage has been visited by many prominent figures, including eight former presidents (Taft, Wilson, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush).

The rooms include a “pillow menu” where you can choose buckwheat, memory foam, or down. Housekeeping will attend to your room twice daily, and a nightly turndown service is included.

Be sure to grab a drink at the Oak Bar, which famously served bourbon in its teapots during Prohibition. And before you finish your cocktail (we recommend the HH Old Fashioned concocted with Belle Meade Tennessee Whiskey), be sure to take a peek into the men’s bathroom, one of the most photographed loos in the country.

A stunning example of the Art Deco style defined by bold colors and straight lines, the perimeter walls of the washroom are lined with leaded glass tiles in a striped pattern of black and emerald green. There is a two-seat shoeshine station inside where some poor chap spent his working hours. Even the toilets themselves are a minty green hue that was all the rage in the 1920s and 30s. This lavatory has been featured in several music videos and was even once named the nation’s “Restroom of the Year” (apparently that’s a thing).

The Hermitage Hotel

Top rated
Nashville, 1.2 miles to Amerigo
9.2 Excellent (375 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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Oyster Bay, New York

Photo courtesy of Discover Long Island

A bit off the beaten track (which was perfect for this lover of the great outdoors) lies the home of our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. Sagamore Hill at Oyster Bay spoke to Roosevelt’s naturalist spirit, situated on over 80 acres of beaches, marshes, open fields, and forest.

Although Roosevelt’s love for adventure took him far and wide across the country, Sagamore Hill remained a consistent anchor for both him and his family. But the family homestead became a place of importance for the country as well. During his time in office, Sagamore Hill was known as the summer White House, and in 1919, it was at this home in Oyster Bay that Theodore Roosevelt died at the age of 60.

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After touring the home, be sure to take the short (about 10-minute) nature trail, over the bridge at Eel Creek down to the Cold Spring Harbor waterfront. Take a pen and paper and jot down any interesting birds and wildlife you may encounter. Roosevelt was an avid bird and wildlife watcher who cataloged hundreds of animal and plant species living on his property. See how many you can spy.

After leaving Oyster Bay, head eight miles south for a completely different experience. Step into the luxury and overabundance of the Gilded Age and stay in a fully restored 1920’s vintage American castle (think Newport cliff walk type-mansions, only bigger), built in the early 1900s by financier Otto Kahn.

Don’t know the name “Otto Kahn?” You probably know the face. Two years after his death, Otto’s likeness was used as the model for the cartoon man seen on the front of the board game “Monopoly”.

At a dizzying 109,000 square feet and 127-rooms, Oheka Castle is the second largest private residence ever built in the U.S. (following the Biltmore in North Carolina with 175,000 square feet and 250-rooms).

The building of Oheka included 2 years of creating the hill on which the property would sit. The manufactured mound became the highest point on Long Island, ensuring Oheka’s stunning views. Originally situated on 443 acres, the home boasted 39 fireplaces, a grand staircase modeled after one at Chateau de Fontainebleau (the French palace to monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III), and employed 126 servants full time despite the Kahn family using it only in the summer and on weekends.

The home turned inn and special event venue can be seen in Citizen Kane, The Great Gatsby documentary, and even Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” music video.

Oheka Castle

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (374 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of VisitPA

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a military man through and through. He became enchanted with Gettysburg at a young age when he traveled there to study the infamous battle as a West Point cadet. Several years later, he was placed on assignment in Gettysburg. The training center where Eisenhower worked was situated on the former battlefield where Pickett once lead his famous charge.

After WWII, Eisenhower purchased his 189-acre farm in Gettysburg with the plan of it becoming a retirement home for him and his wife, Mamie. The retirement was put off though as Eisenhower was sent to Europe once again, this time to assume the command post for NATO.

During his presidency, the Eisenhowers renovated the Gettysburg home and spent many weekends and holidays at the property. After a heart attack while in office in 1955, the Gettysburg farm was where the president went to recuperate.

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Head right to the center of downtown Gettysburg, and check in at the Gettysburg Hotel, established in 1797. You’ll discover that the downtown Gettysburg area has a distinctive college-town atmosphere. And with good reason. Though Gettysburg is most famous for the Civil War battle, the town is also home to Gettysburg College. (Fun fact: Eisenhower wrote his memoirs from the campus admissions office.)

A must in any respectable college town, downtown Gettysburg offers plenty of well-attended late-night watering holes and the requisite greasy spoon morning dining establishments. In the evening, check out the Blue and Gray Bar and Grill, right across Lincoln Square from your hotel. Order a 21st Amendment “Brew Free or Die IPA”. Be aware that as you select your burger, you’ll also be choosing sides. Burgers come garnished with either the Union or Confederate army flags.

In the morning (or early afternoon if you had a late night reliving your college glory days), stumble two blocks to the Lincoln Diner where you can grab your coffee and any of your favorite breakfast staples. While enjoying your java in the 1950’s vintage diner, look out the windows to the neighboring railroad tracks. They’re the same ones which carried our 16th president to town on November 19, 1863, the day of the Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg Hotel

Top rated
Gettysburg, 1.1 miles to Gettysburg National Military Park
8.6 Excellent (2489 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Washington D.C.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Creswick, Unsplash

The home of a sitting U.S. president is now called “The White House,” an appellation bestowed on the property by Teddy Roosevelt in 1901. Before that, the residence had known many other titles including, “Executive Mansion,” “President’s Palace,” and “President’s House.”

It’s difficult to gain access to a tour of the White House, but it is possible with a bit of planning. First, contact your congressional representative and request a tour. Tour requests can be made up to 3 months in advance of your desired trip, but no less than 21 days in advance. Tours are granted on a first come, first serve basis.

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While in D.C., consider a stay at the Willard InterContinental, which is steeped in historical reverence and traditionalism. The Willard dates back to 1818, though it was not known as such until the middle of the century.

It was at the Willard that our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln stayed for 10 days in the weeks leading up to his first inauguration in 1861. In that same year, poet Julia Ward Howe, an advocate for both abolition and women’s suffrage, penned the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying at the hotel.

Fun fact, the term “lobbyists” was coined at the Willard by President Ulysses S. Grant. The president used to escape The White House and head to the local hotel to enjoy a cigar and brandy. People with different political agendas knew of the president’s affinity for the hotel and would take advantage of the fact. President Grant began calling them “lobbyists.”

Afternoon Tea

Book Early

The Willard hosts a formal afternoon tea each weekend. The tea is especially well-attended during the holidays, so book early if you are planning a stay in December.

InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C.

Top rated
Washington D.C., 27.5 miles to Baltimore–Washington International Airport
9.0 Excellent (4991 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.6 / 10
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Photo courtesy of David Everett Strickler on Unsplash