One of the great pleasures of traveling around the South is staying in a wide variety of hotels that have been deliberately designed to reflect their historic roots. It doesn't matter if they're original buildings that have been modernized or new-built facilities that replicate pre-existing architecture, or if they're located in cities, set against mountains, or perched by lakes. We admire these treasures equally—for both their iconic history, as well as the reimagined present that we get to enjoy today.
If you're eager to plan a nostalgic trip down memory lane or a stylish blast to the past, look no further. We've rounded up 19 of our favorite retrofitted hotels across the South, from a beach casual-meets-Art-Deco revamp on the coast of Florida, to a funky, boho-style beauty in Charleston, to an upscale motor lodge in Austin, Texas. These hotels and destinations are worth planning an old-school road trip for—and we've got a recommendation for every kind of traveler, whether you're looking to toast to the 1920s at a bustling city hotel bar or relax in a 1960s-style living room reminiscent of your childhood.
Perry Lane Hotel
Located in Savannah's historic downtown, the Perry Lane Hotel redefines retro Southern hospitality. Upon arrival, strike up a conversation with Pops, the hotel's concierge who is always dressed in a seersucker suit, while sipping on a glass of Rosé or Champagne at check-in. The hotel's design delights in every detail, returning us to previous generations with tea service, leather arm chairs with spindle legs, and black-and-white checkered floors—both inside done in marble in the bar area and outside where the rooftop pool overlooks downtown. At Perry Lane, even the show-stopping sunsets seem to remind us of our golden days.
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Originally built in 1947, Hotel Palms is an 11-room boutique property that has been renovated with a focus on space age design—imagine Art Deco architecture meets Atlantic Beach culture. In its motor-court-style guest rooms, as well as its lounge and coffee bar, the décor includes lots of 1960s-style white furniture, natural textiles, and mixed media pillows and cushions with pops of magenta and teal throughout. The hotel's standout feature, though, is the geometric wall mural that surrounds the retro sign at its entrance. It welcomes you to Hotel Palms with an expectation of exactly what you'll find inside: an invitation to step back in time.
The Pearl Hotel
Rosemary Beach, Florida
Only 55 rooms, The Pearl Hotel will remind you of your own cool grandmother's home—if she had a home on the Emerald Coast where you could watch the sun go down in the Gulf of Mexico, that is. Perched in the charming coastal community of Rosemary Beach in South Walton, The Pearl matches the environment with a color palette of blue, teal, and orange. The Pearl Hotel was a favorite when it opened in 2013, just as it is now after a March 2022 renovation by Duncan & Miller Design of Dallas, Texas, has been unveiled. Sleek-lined furniture, tropically patterned pillows, and stacked-glass lamps reminiscent of the 1960s almost dare you to do anything but relax and enjoy a fun-filled vacation here.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
In Miami, Art Deco is everything and everywhere. So how to choose which hotel to best represent the retro stylings of the region? Many argue that the Fontainebleau Miami Beach is the most representative. Designed by Morris Lapidus, one of the most revered architects of the era, this glamorous resort takes up 22 oceanfront acres. Refurbished in 2008 to the tune of $1 billion, it retains its original grandiosity, with sunken lobbies, floating circular ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and so many curves and zig-zags it has become an icon of Modern Miami restoration. The truth is, it's hard to resist the glamour left behind by the Rat Pack celebrities who stayed here before us.
Perched in Huntsville's Twickenham district, 106 Jefferson is a space-age reincarnation of sorts of the Huntsville Hotel, an iconic hot spot that was consumed by fire in 1910 and rebuilt years later. Before transforming into the enchanting hotel it is today, the building was home to Alabama Power Company and the Hale Brothers Furniture store, the latter of which contributed reclaimed beams to the current building. The hotel's lobby floors are also from the original Huntsville Hotel, as is the brick accent wall at Revivalist , the on-property restaurant serving burgers and club sandwiches at lunch and fresh Gulf shrimp, hushpuppies, and fried green tomatoes come suppertime. Elsewhere, 106 Jefferson is bright with mid-century modern accents, groovy modular furniture in eclectic colors and patterns, and abstract art throughout.
Elwood Hotel & Suites
Located in Lexington, the Elwood Hotel & Suites , which opened in the fall of 2021, is an homage to place. It draws inspiration from thoroughbred horse farms, bluegrass (the music and the actual grass), and the Kentucky Bourbon old-fashioned, as well as a sincere admiration of the old-fashioned, upscale "living rooms" found in European boutique hotels. You can definitely feel the local color, down-home friendliness, and stately warmth of all those elements come together. Outside, a flowering mural covers half the building, opening up to a mix of contemporary and vintage furniture, fixtures, and color schemes—pink and green in the hotel; coral and royal blue in the food-and-beverage areas—inside. One thing is for certain, though: Guests will rest easy on the deep channeled banquettes and velvet throw pillows here.
Virgin Hotels New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
Virgin Hotels New Orleans opened its 238 "chambers" in the Warehouse District in August 2021. Thanks to local firm Logan Killen Interiors, the commitment to retro design is carried throughout the hotel, from the arched front doors to the Art Deco colors, patterns, and geometric shapes that pop up in guest rooms. These influences are particularly notable throughout Commons Club, the center of the hotel, which is divided into The Bar, The Porch, The Kitchen, and The Shag Room. Here, design-obsessed guests may be tempted to caress the bar made from burled wood, run their hands through the two-story Cherry Bomb fringe chandelier that replicates Louisiana's Spanish moss, and admire the equestrian decoupage wallcovering leading up to a smokey mirrored ceiling.
The Old No. 77
New Orleans, Louisiana
Also located in the Warehouse District, Provenance Hotels' The Old No. 77 features exposed, white-painted brick walls, rotating art displays, and mid-century décor. The polished wood floors and curvy lines of the furniture under soaring ceilings give us all sorts of Art Deco feels . Travelers will be much impressed by the tall windows—imagine lots of natural light!—and colorful statement pieces that brighten the neutral palette in each guest room. Initially used for coffee storage, the hotel is named for the building's original address before the city renumbered its street addresses. And Chef Nina Compton's restaurant, Compère Lapin , renders us speechless with its timelessness.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina
Both majestic and historic, The Omni Grove Park Inn sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains just west of downtown Asheville, North Carolina. This massive 513-room resort was built in 1913 with more than 12,000 feet of granite stones mined from Sunset Mountain. It originally opened as an homage to the Old Faithful Inn and the Canyon Hotel in Yellowstone National Park, and has maintained its ambiance since then. Today, the Omni Grove Park Inn is famous for its Great Hall, which features 24-foot ceilings and two mammoth, 36-foot stone fireplaces whose chimneys have been turned into elevator shafts. Equally as fascinating, though, is the wonderfully authentic assortment of furnishings (from Stickley and Roycroft Arts and Crafts) throughout the guest rooms and common spaces.
The Dewberry Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Opened in 2016, The Dewberry Charleston is a collaborative restoration, envisioned by owner John Dewberry, that took eight years to bring together in the mid-century former L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building. It's an attractive space from the get-go with lime-washed brick, vintage marble, and metalwork embellishing the canopy and rooftop spaces. Inside, mid-century lines and curves are apparent in the furniture carved from polished cherry, mahogany, oak, and walnut woods and finished with plush fabrics. The wood is echoed in the flooring, especially the decorative parquet floors in The Ballroom, where cast brass, crystal chandeliers and troweled plaster ceilings also vie for attention. Also notable: The Gilded Age opulence in the Swanston Room, which features 22 hand-painted panels plated with silver, pewter, and 22-carat gold.
The Ryder Hotel
Charleston, South Carolina
One of Charleston's newest boutique hotels, The Ryder Hotel is a 91-room boho beauty in the historic district. Inspired by Japhy Ryder, a character in Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums, the property evokes the narrative of being on the road and savoring the journey. Thanks to interior designer Cortney Bishop, it is made up of chic and comfy communal spaces that incorporate both the boundlessness inspired by both the Lowcountry and the Beat Generation. With a wealth of earthy hues contrasting flamingo-pink flowered wallpaper, fringed light fixtures, and plenty of vintage bits and bobs, one can't help but think of it as Coastal Kerouac.
Columbia, South Carolina
Call it nostalgia for college sports. Or call it fanaticism. Whatever it is, the Graduate Columbia , located in Columbia, South Carolina, is a university-owned boutique hotel that simultaneously celebrates its own history and that of the region. Originally built in 1911, the building was bought by The University of South Carolina in 1974. At first, the school intended demolition but was encouraged to turn it into a hotel in the early 2000s. Chock-full of both mid-century and school spirit thanks to operator Graduate Hotels , the property features pastel hues, curvilinear furniture, and plenty of nods to The University of South Carolina with Gamecock-inspired headboards and football design carpeting.
The National, Autograph Collection
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
One of Oklahoma City's finest restorations, The National, Autograph Collection , only recently opened its doors in April 2022. Originally debuting in 1931 as a local bank, the space was redesigned by a quartet of historic preservation specialists. Now a hotel with 146 guest rooms, The National connects to its civic, American-crafted past with a neoclassical design aesthetic that draws you in immediately. Upon arrival, be sure to take in the preserved marble columns in the Great Hall (lobby) and the four 1931 Edgar Spier Cameron murals that surround the Great Hall Bar: the Louisiana Transfer, Sunset Trail, and two of the Oklahoma Land Run. There's charm left in the Art Deco bank details too, from the original marble floor in front of each teller window to the restored bank vault doors.
The Read House Hotel
At The Read House Hotel , a good ghost story gives off last-century feels. The property opened in 1872 in downtown Chattanooga, and thrill-seekers today can request to tour or stay in the restored room where a woman's spirit is said to linger. If haints aren't your thing, though, there's plenty more to enjoy, such as the staff—who wears period Jazz Age costumes—and the 241 upscale rooms with quilted headboards, high ceilings, and elegant plush furniture. The lobby itself is worth a visit with checkered floors underfoot, walls overlaid with rich wood, and stunning crystal chandeliers overhead. It's not hard to envision a roomful of flappers drinking bootleg martinis all around you.
Central Station Hotel
Central Station Hotel is a remake of the city's former Grand Central train station, which opened in 1914. With more than 50 arrivals and departures daily at its height in the 20th century, the station was a fixture in the neighborhood, giving rise to retail, dining, and more to accommodate the passenger traffic. Central Station Hotel, which debuted in 2019 with 123 rooms, captures that energy with its mid-century architectural design, community-style public spaces, and wealth of local art. We love how it keeps the original feel of the train station, especially in the lobby with neon signs pointing the way, metalwork accents, and a backlit library of vinyl records that recall the city's musical history. Relax in the curvilinear furniture and take it all in.
Bode Nashville , in partnership with DAAD, is a reimagined space that was originally home to a condominium facility. It now serves up industrial mid-century looks with a brick-and-steel exterior complemented by natural wood. Inside, local artisans have supplied the light fixtures and made the custom geometric furniture, which ranges from overstuffed to spare, all reminiscent of the 1960s. Textiles include natural fibers and leather as well as shag and rattan, and colors include blue, yellow, and pink. The moody onsite Sidebar , housed in what was once the condo's carport, is a must-visit that also exhibits groovy throwback style.
Lone Star Court
You can't get more retro than a roadside motor court experience, which is what Austin's Lone Star Court replicates—albeit with modern amenities. Designed by Lauren Rottet of Houston-based Rottet Studios, this nostalgia-inducing hotel supplies all sorts of authentic mid-century Americana, from SMEG refrigerators in each room to a vintage car on display to a swimming pool made to resemble a local Texas watering hole. It's also peppered with cheerful surprises throughout—from red-orange lighting fixtures to penny-tile bathroom floors walled off by sliding barn doors to aqua-hued chairs outside The Water Trough. We suggest posting up in a pair of rocking chairs to enjoy live music and take in the Hill Country evening.
Mokara Hotel & Spa
San Antonio, Texas
Mokara Hotel & Spa might be located along the historic River Walk in downtown San Antonio, but the interior design details make it feel like you're staying in a more upscale version of the ranch in the Power of the Dog . Formerly the 19th-century L. Frank Saddlery Building, the hotel, renovated in 2018 by Sypult Rogers Studio, is made up of 99 rooms, a spa, and the Ostra restaurant—all decorated in hues that showcase the red clay and limestone surroundings. With a rope, saddle, and stirrup design in the Axminster carpets, metal caps on the restaurant banquettes, and custom artwork like a metal 3D sculpture of an open framed saddle, the hotel plays homage to its Texas roots.
In Farmville, Virginia, Hotel Weyanoke reopened in 2018 with a renovated vintage interior. The designers, Hightower Collaborative Design, Hunter Mabry Design, and General Partners, kept the building's century-old marble floors and check-in desk, which are accentuated by high ceilings and four 1920s crystal chandeliers. They also retained the tin ceilings in the restaurant and the original trim work around the hotel. They added gray velvet sofas and pink modular settees in the lobby, echoing that palette and mid-century look throughout the 70 guest rooms and suites. It all comes together alongside local craftsmanship and goods, including water tumblers and coffee mugs from neighborhood pottery store Mainly Clay, and artwork inspired by the state's textile industry.