January 16,2023

6 Hotels with Hidden Pasts

by David Stewart

Historic and landmarked buildings are being remade into incredible hotels that maintain many of the vintage elements within. A printing press in the lobby of a former newspaper headquarters, a bank vault repurposed into a spa, and a vaulted lobby with 300-year-old timber beams—these are just some of the incredible design details that are sure to impress. But what might make you book an extra night are the incredibly well-thought-out amenities, multiple-star restaurants, and comfortably elegant rooms that are all updated to ably meet today’s needs. Continue on to find out where these converted historical hotels are located and what makes them so unique.

Hotel de Rome

Constructed between 1887 and 1889, the former Dresdner Bank in Berlin was designed by architect Ludwig Heim and served as the bank’s headquarters until 1945. The building, which had only three floors, in 1923 gained an additional three floors and a roof terrace, now offering iconic views of Berlin. The hotel boasts many of the original Renaissance-style details, including a state-of-the-art spa built into the vault.

The Press Hotel

Once the Portland Press Herald Newspaper in Portland, Maine, the seven-story building has been made over to hold 110 rooms within a boutique hotel environment. Many of the hotel’s elements are a nod to local culture. The restaurant, Union Food + Drink, has a farm-to-table menu, and the hotel uses art and design elements from Maine-based artisans.

The Scotsman

Designed to dominate the Edinburgh skyline, the former Scotsman Newspaper building is among the city’s most famous landmarks. Now it has been converted into a boutique hotel that expertly preserves the grand marble staircase, oak paneling, and ornate ceilings. The original printing presses are mainstays of the lower level, acting as sculptural elements within the space.

The Iron Horse Hotel

Built in 1907 and once home to the Berger Bedding Company warehouse and factory, this brick structure is currently the Iron Horse Hotel . Milwaukee’s premier boutique hotel boasts three restaurants and an outdoor lounge that is open to the public. The atrium has 300-year-old timber beams, and exposed brick can be found throughout the 100-room building. The onetime factory vault is now the grand fireplace that welcomes guests in the lobby, where much of the factory’s machinery is on display.

Hudson Hotel

The erstwhile American Women’s Association building in New York dates from 1928. Less than two decades later, the building was reincarnated as the Henry Hudson Hotel and housed Dutch troops during World War II. Over the years, it has hosted the United Nations Security Council and served as the headquarters for Channel Thirteen and Sesame Street Studios. In 2000, after a three-year redesign, its doors opened as the Hudson Hotel , offering 892 rooms that sit on top of a private, rooftop terrace. The lobby has impressive 40-foot ceilings, and the library bar continues to be the place to see and be seen in Manhattan.

The Society Hotel

At one time a boarding house for displaced sailors, the 1881 Mariners Building in Portland, Oregon, has been restored to its original charm but has plenty of modern elements. The hotel space offers a contemporary spin on lodging, providing both private rooms and bunk rooms, which foster a sense of urban community with a hip and inviting atmosphere.

  • David Stewart
  • January 16,2023

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