At the turn of the 20th century, when the booming steel and oil businesses gave way to exceptional fortune, glitz, and glamour, two luxury travel experiences became intrinsically tied together: high-end hotels.and railway excursions As entrepreneurs vied for a piece of the railway business, hoteliers and railroad tycoons erected august, gargoyle-topped hotels and picturesque, five-star resorts adjacent to major rail stations to house visiting travelers. Though many of these illustrious, Downton-era properties have since fallen into disrepair or been converted into railway hotels, some are still operating full steam ahead, offering guests a chance to experience turn-of-the-century luxury and style through bygone-era furnishings, service, and recreation offerings like croquet, falconry, and carriage rides. We’ve rounded up 9 of these storied properties, perfect for the modern traveler looking to add a touch of gilded-age glamour to their next getaway.
1/9 The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Though historic White Sulphur Spring has been welcoming guests since 1778, the Greenbrier owes much of its prominence to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which purchased the property in 1910 and spearheaded a major expansion of the resort. The railroad added to the property an 18-hole golf course, a grand indoor pool, and what is now the central section of today’s hotel.
2/9 The Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland
Located adjacent to Glasgow Central Station, this legendary Scotland lodging holds an important place in both hotel and Hollywood history. The world’s first long-distance television pictures were transmitted from the property in 1927, and in subsequent years, the hotel welcomed such illustrious guests as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and the Rolling Stones.
3/9 The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida
Still regarded as one of the country’s top resorts, The Breakers was founded by Henry Morrison Flagler, a railroad magnate, hotel developer, and business partner to John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company. Flagler is responsible for the extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad to what is now Palm Beach, enabling travelers to access the town’s many fabled resorts, including Flagler’s Breakers.
4/9 The Landmark London, United Kingdom
The Landmark London, United KingdomThis hulking Gothic Revival construction was conceived as part of Great Central Railway expansion and opened in 1899 as The Great Central Hotel. With an exterior that brings to mind Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and interiors to match, the Landmark is one of Europe’s most fabled Victorian railway hotels.
5/9 Great Northern Hotel, London, United Kingdom
One of the country’s first purpose-built railway hotels, the Great Northern was designed by renowned Victorian architect Lewis Cubitt as a luxury lodging option for passengers of the Great Northern Railway Company. In 2013 the property underwent a complete renovation, but it’s safe to sat the hotel—which is just a few steps from the Eurostar terminus—hasn’t lost touch with its railway roots.
6/9 Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada
This 90-year-old landmark, perched above Waterton Lake, was the brainchild of railroad tycoon Louis Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). Together with his son James, Hill worked to transform the land surrounding Glacier National Park into a vacation destination for wealthy Americans during the prohibition era.
7/9 The Principal, York, United Kingdom
Victorian grandeur abounds at this UK property, which first opened in 1878 as the Station Hotel and is accessible directly from the York station platform. The property’s most recent iteration, The Principal York, opened in 2016 as a meticulously restored wonder that’s remained true to its old bones.
8/9 Algonquin, Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
One of Canada’s most legendary resorts, the Algonquin first opened in 1889 in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. In subsequent years, the resort gained popularity with travelers, who could travel there via the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Though CPR service discontinued in 1958, the property has continued to draw illustrious guests, including Pierre and Margaret Trudeau.
9/9 St Pancras Renaissance, London, United Kingdom
Our list wouldn’t be complete without this luxe London treasure, which exists today as the gold standard of grand railway hotels. Modeled after the Houses of Parliament, St Pancras Renaissance first opened in 1873 as part of the St Pancras station complex and underwent a transformative renovation in recent years, restoring the hotel to its former glory. Pop culture aficionados can appreciate that the Spice Girls’ Wannabe music video was shot on property, as well as scenes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Batman Begins, among other films.
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