Sometimes when we travel, we want to learn about the destination but are just too lazy to leave our beautiful hotel rooms. On days like these, we really appreciate historic inns and hotels.
Whether you want a relaxing getaway, a night full of ghost stories or a history lesson, book a stay at one of these historic hotels in the South and you’ll get all of that without having to leave the property.
1. Fayetteville, Arkansas: Inn at Carnall Hall
In the early 1900s, the building that now houses the Inn at Carnall Hall (pictured above) was a women’s dormitory on the campus of the University of Arkansas. When the building was threatened with demolition, a group of citizens led an effort to save it and secured funding from the National Trust for historic preservation to aid in this quest.
2. Jekyll Island, Georgia: Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Photo courtesy of the Jekyll Island Club
In the 1920s, the Jekyll Island Club was one of the most excusive members-only associations. Its members included Astor, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Macy and Pulitzer. The club flourished until the 1930s. The state of Georgia eventually bought the island after World War II. Luckily for travelers, the property is now a hotel and visitors can live like a Rockefeller or Vanderbilt … if only for a weekend.
3. St. Augustine, Florida: Casa de Solana
Photo courtesy of Casa de Solana
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the United States. On the oldest street in the area you will find the Casa de Solana Bed and Breakfast, which takes its name from the original owner, Don Manuel Lorenzo Solana, a member of one of the city’s first Spanish families. When the British claimed St. Augustine in 1763, he was one of only eight men permitted to remain there. The house he built was well known for offering haven to Native Americans, injured soldiers and anyone in need of respite.
4. Memphis, Tennessee: The Peabody
Photo courtesy of The Peabody
In the 1930s, Frank Schutt, the then General Manager of The Peabody, and his friend Chip Barwick returned to Memphis after a hunting trip. The men had a little too much whiskey and decided to play a joke on the hotel by placing some of their live duck decoys in the Peabody fountain. The reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Afterwards, five mallards would replace the original ducks. In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Nearly 80 years later, the ducks still bath in the marble fountain in the hotel lobby and perform their march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
5. Austin, Texas: The Driskill
Photo courtesy of the Driskill Hotel
Opened in 1886, The Driskill was built by a cattle baron. Shortly after opening, the hotel hosted the inaugural ball for the first governor of Texas, Sul Ross. Since that time, multiple Texas governors have hosted their inaugural balls here, including William Hobby, Miriam Ferguson, Dan Moody and Ann Richards.
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is the Editor in Chief of Southern Bon Vivant. Her pieces have appeared in Bourbon & Boots, The Telegraph and Macon Magazine.