Iowa’s historic hotels have hosted presidents, celebrities, weddings and thousands of travelers for generations. They grace their communities with stunning architecture, outstanding food and entertainment. The inns listed here have been in business for 100 years or more. Restorations have returned them to the grandeur that made them the places to stay a century ago.
THE BLACKHAWK HOTEL
Cedar Falls: The Blackhawk Hotel occupies one of the oldest continuously operating hotel sites in the country. It opened in 1853 as a wooden frame “stagecoach” hotel called the Winslow House. In the late 1870s, it was destroyed by fire and replaced with the four-story structure that is standing today.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Blackhawk Hotel offers one of the few true historic hotel experiences in the nation. Its accommodations range from economy to luxury multi-room suites. Its location on Main Street couldn’t be better for great dining, shopping and nightlife.
Davenport: Since the Hotel Blackhawk opened in 1915, it’s served as a home away from home for families, romantics, presidents, movie stars and legendary athletes alike. Renovations have once again made it the jewel of Davenport.
The hotel maintains the highest standards for its discriminating guests. The beautifully renovated guestrooms and suites are tastefully decorated with comfortable furniture, as well as works created by local artists. Guests are pampered with many luxurious amenities like an indoor pool, bowling alley and more.
Decorah: A historic beauty set in the charming community of Decorah. Built in 1905, this luxurious hotel has a three-story lobby that opens to a skylight, antique furnishings, exquisite millwork and an elegant cherry grand staircase.
The hotel has hosted numerous dignitaries including heads of state, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Whether a distinguished guest or a weekend traveler, the hotel’s restaurant and spa will make any guest feel pampered.
Dubuque: Built in 1839, the old Julien Hotel was the first building travelers saw as they crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa’s first city. It has survived fire and hosted famous guests including Abraham Lincoln, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Mark Twain and even mobster Al Capone (who was said to visit when it got “hot” in Chicago).
This remarkable boutique hotel offers luxurious amenities in a variety of room sizes. They even have a very special Capone Suite!
HISTORIC PARK INN HOTEL
Mason City: Frank Lloyd Wright designed six hotels in his lifetime. Only one remains, the Historic Park Inn Hotel in downtown Mason City. Prominent Mason City business leaders met the legendary architect in Wisconsin and commissioned Wright to design the hotel as well as the City National Bank and law offices next door. The prairie school-style building with large ribbons of windows and wide overhangs opened for business in 1910. During an economic crisis in the early 1920s, the hotel became a third-rate establishment and eventually closed.
A local group of energetic volunteers formed a nonprofit organization in 2005 to spearhead the restoration of the Park Inn. Today the facility stands as a four-star boutique hotel with 27 guest rooms.
Perry: Built in 1913, the historic Hotel Pattee has been called one of the finest boutique hotels in the world. By 1993 the hotel had fallen into disrepair and was facing extinction. That was when locals Howard and Roberta Ahmanson stepped in. For two years they worked on intensively restoring the hotel to its former glory. When they were finished, they reopened it on May 29, 1997—84 years to the day of its original grand opening.
Each of its 40 rooms is decorated in a unique way that tells its own story. Guests are also treated to many luxurious amenities like a spa, dining, bowling alley and more.
RENAISSANCE HOTEL SAVERY
Des Moines: At 11 stories tall when completed in 1919, the Savery was Iowa’s first skyscraper. Each of its 300 rooms included an individual bathroom, a rarity at the time. The hotel closed its doors in August 2016 for a massive $20 million renovation and reopened in 2018.