Mid-Century hotels may inspire wanderlust, and there’s no denying the breezy appeal of an island hotel resort, but there’s something unbeatably luxurious about passing a few days at an Art Deco hotel. Whether you opt for the cruise ship-inspired simplicity of a Miami Art Deco hotel or the 24-karat splendor of a New York institution like the Waldorf-Astoria, nothing has the power to transport quite like an Art Deco hotel. To find out where you should be booking for the optimal Deco experience, we’ve taken stock of the top Art Deco hotels in all corners of the country. From L.A. hostposts steeped in old Hollywood glamour to recently shined Midwestern gems, these are the ultimate in Art Deco digs.
Sunset Tower Hotel, Los Angeles
Jutting up over an otherwise horizontal stretch of Sunset Strip is the Sunset Tower Hotel, designed in 1929 by renowned L.A. architect Leland A. Bryant. Ranking among the most fabled locales in L.A. (and that’s saying something, we know), the Sunset Tower hotel has been called “home sweet home” by everyone from Howard Hughes to Elizabeth Taylor. In fact, rumor has is the hotel’s current foot gym (clocking in at a cool 7,000 square feet) once served as John Wayne’s personal crash pad. In contrast to the dark jewel tones favored by other Art Deco spots on our list, the Sunset Tower adheres to a palette of smoky pinks and mauves. A travertine lanai overlooking the hotel’s terrace pool not only provides a place to hide away to catch up on your Hollywood-ready tan, but also offers up a sublime spot to grab a Cali culinary classic (think: Cobb salad and avocado toast) from the hotel’s restaurant, The Tower Bar.
Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara
Its white stucco and red tile roof exterior might have you expecting a Hotel California special, but step inside this beachfront 1925 hotel and you’ll find Spanish Colonial and Moroccan details accenting a thumping Art Deco beat. The work of designer-to-the-stars, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Hotel Californian gets its mojo from more the more than one million black and white tiles adorning the lobby, poolsides, spas, guest rooms, and more. In addition to providing enough glitter to rival the sparkling Pacific outside, the tiles provide just the right contrast for a fleet Art Deco furniture, custom designed by Bullard. In guest rooms, sexy channel back chairs and brass-tacked headboards wrapped in merlot-hued leather conjure up Deco decadence, while the hotel’s restaurant, Blackbird, is an all-out Art Deco affair complete with an army of brass and leather barstools and a graphic black and vermillion tile floor.
A recent facelift by the Graduate Hotel group has made Hotel Deca, a once-humble, northwestern Art Deco landmark, a must-see. Known officially as the Deca Tower, the building was originally designed in 1931 by architect Robert Reamer. Ingeniously, Reamer ued Art Deco architecture to execute a floorplan in which every room lays claim to a corner view. To ensure that isn’t the only perk guests are being granted post-20th Century, the recent remodel of the Graduate Seattle involved overhauling every surface in the hotel and reimagining it as a funky homage to Art Deco. In the lobby this means carpets adorned with Chinese Deco Rug motifs and tassel trim chairs—given that this is Grunge Country, it’s worth noting that everything is tempered by a good amount of plaid—and in the bedrooms scalloped mahogany headboards are paired with channeled velvet purple chairs, streamlined loveseats, and dapper, polished wood side tables designed to look like UW huskies.
Soho Beach House, Miami
Art Deco hotels in South Beach are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t stop the Soho Beach House from feeling like an Atlantis-caliber treasure dragged in by the tide. Designed by Art Deco architect Roy France in 1941, the Soho Beach House was originally home to the Sovereign Hotel, the kind of palm tree-decked oasis that once held poolside house parties that swung late into the night before heading upstairs to the (then novel) a/c equipped rooms. Recent renovations preserved the Sovereign’s terrazzo lobby floors, but not much else. A sixteen story tower was erected next to the original building upping both the hotel’s lodging power and swank factor. Inside, Art Deco glamour takes on a patina of time-worn, Havana-like elegance, with Spanish tile floors and Venetian chandeliers rubbing elbows. Head outdoors, and you’ll find the pool is cupped by umbrellas trimmed in bullion fringe and the balconies are adorned with roll arm upholstered sofas, taking the indoor-outdoor living quota to all new heights.
Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Another Roy France gem, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach originally opened as the Saxony hotel in 1948. A billion dollar renovation in 2015 completely overhauled the beach-hugging compound and surrounding six blocks, turning standard Miami kitsch into a carnelian, aquamarine, and tiger print-splashed Shangri-La. The first sign you’ve entered a whole new world? The Faena lobby, which has been appropriately been re-named the “cathedral.” Lined with fanning gold-leafed columns and botanical murals by Argentinian painter Juan Gatti, the cathedral sets the tone as dramatic, brass-coasted, and defiantly Deco. Head up to the guest suites and you’ll find rooms tricked out in a curated mix of Art Deco furniture. Exotic wood finishes and sumptuous upholsteries prevail, as do playful Deco-inspired rugs. Take a breather on the balcony overlooking the crystalline bay, and the Faena Group’s decision to make aquamarine part of the hotel’s signature palette becomes as crystal clear as the Biscayne waters themselves.
Ace Hotel New Orleans
A 1928 building in NOLA’s Central Business District provides the digs for Ace Hotel’s southernmost outpost, Ace Hotel New Orleans. The historic lodgings inspired Ace to shuck its typical minimalist blueprint and opt for something a bit more layered and Deco-ist for its Crescent City debut. To get the job done, the hotel hired NYC’s most notorious mood-setters (and long-time sitting AD 100-ers), Roman & Williams. Pulling inspiration from the streetcars shuttling by outside on Carondelet Street, the firm opted for a palette awash in shades of moss and hunter green, accented by tobacco browns and smoky blue-grays. Simultaneously Deco and gothic-feeling, the colors provide the perfect backdrop for a cobbled-yet-elegant feeling mix of chesterfield sofas, swoop-y, Swedish-style Deco chairs, and Deco armoires covered in paint-by-number-style murals featuring New Orleans’s neighboring swamplands.
The Evelyn, New York City
With a name swiped from a silver screen siren—that would be Evelyn Nesbit, to the uninitiated—the pressure is on for The Evelyn to deliver an authentic Art Deco experience. One minute inside this NoMad hot spot proves it’s the real deal, however. From the stunning, tangram-patterned stained glass in the lobby to the deep green leather channeled banquets cozying-up the onsite restaurant, Leonelli Taberna (one of three places in the hotel to get your Italian fix, we might add), Art Deco style is on full display in this 1903 gem. Since this particular section of NoMad was once a music-biz epicenter known as Tin Pan Alley, the hotel also incorporates a number of design hallmarks celebrating its harmonic past. Perfect for uplifting the spirits of the seen-it-all traveler, the blink-and-you-miss details include framed sheet music art, as well as music note tiles adorning the bathroom showers. For those who like their Deco with a side of jazz, The Evelyn is a must.
Waldorf Astoria, New York City
While it’s true there’s not much to be said about the Waldorf Astoria New York City that hasn’t already been said—The chicken salad! The Presidents! Marilyn’s secret suite!—there’s a reason that it’s considered to be the last word in Art Deco. Opened at the height of Art Deco influence in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria could easily double as an Art Deco museum. Literally every surface in this city-block-sized hotel is an ode to Jazz age opulence. From the wood panel and black marble-clad lobby where everyone from Judy Garland to Henry Kissinger dropped their bags, to the balcony box-adorned Grand Ballroom where Bob Hope hosted parties, to the famed Peacock Alley Restaurant where Frank Sinatra took brunch every Sunday, every inch of the hotel is as historic as it is breath-taking. The only catch is that you’ll have to hold tight until 2021 too book a stay, as that’s when a four-year renovation of the grand dame is scheduled to wrap.
The Siren Hotel, Detroit
Expect The Siren Hotel to live up to its name and positively tempt you with its cool kid, downtown take on Art Deco style. Housed in the 1926 Wulitzer building (in Detroit’s boomtown days it was the organ and piano factory that powered Motown), The Siren Hotel mixes text book Deco elements with new millennium touches like colored terrazzo bathroom sinks and showers, minimalist French inspired lighting, and Gio Ponti style furniture. Since few historical details remained in the building by the time hotel renovations began, developers looked to a 1926 article that visually described the space for clues. The takeaways? The mossy green walls punctuated with elaborate moldings that you see in the lobby. Elsewhere, design enthusiasts will enjoy scouting out the one-of-a-kind vintage Art Deco moments hidden throughout the hotel. From a pair of life-size brass cranes in the lobby to tiered palm tree reliefs adorning the corners of the hotel’s “Jayne Mansfield Pink”-painted cocktail lounge, Candy Bar, The Siren Hotel is an Art Deco lover’s paradise.
Hotel Phillips, Kansas City
For anyone in search of “We’re not in Kansas (City) Anymore” vibes, head straight to Hotel Phillips. Upon entering the hotel you’ll pass through an impressive archway formed by the hotel’s double staircase and be funneled into the hotel’s illustrious jewel box of a lobby. A recent remodel of the 1931 hotel freshened up its primarily peach palette, while maintaining the majority of its Art Deco-era hallmarks. Notable details include the hotel’s lustrous walnut paneling, tiered chandeliers, wrought iron balconies, and 11-foot Goddess of Dawn statue holding court at the top of the staircase. If the Phillip’s more subdued guest rooms have you pining for a more stepped-up version of Deco, head straight to the hotel’s hidden bar, P.S. Speakeasy. Located in what once used to be the building’s mail room, the menu’s loaded with aptly named drinks like “Paris of the Plains” and—yep, you got it—”You’re Not in Kansas.”
Lead image courtesy of the Sunset Tower Hotel