Hotel History

Wouldn’t it be great to stay at the Hotel History, where all the accommodations are replicas of typical rooms spanning a century of hotels (and no magnetic key cards)?

“I’d like an early 1930s room please.”

“Sorry, we only have turn-of-the -century and fifties-era rooms available. But you can smoke all you want.”

In each of these historic recreations would be the vintage stationery from an old hotel. Remember when hotels offered letterheads and envelopes (not just bedside notepads)? Hotel History will probably never happen. Guests prefer all the modern comforts. And to include them in a 20s or 40s era film noir room would be like putting a V8 in a Model T Ford.

So, forget Hotel History, but don’t discard hotels as history. The traveler and transient in America play a large role in the legacy of American lifestyle. And one way to capture this history is through letters and letterheads. Researcher (and hoarder) par excellence, Jeff Roth, recently loaned me a collection of letterheads sent from his uncle, a traveling salesman, to his wife during the late 50s and early 60s. On their own, each is a curio but together they are a testament to how hotels and motels branded and advertised themselves. They provide a look at the graphic design styles and fashions and, through type, the image each hotel or motel sought to project.


Statler Hilton

Hotel Racine

Hotel Shroeder

Hotel Madison

Hotel Hampton

Hotel Leland

The Penn Harris Hotel

Boss Hotels

Dutch Colony motor inn

Hotel Hastings

Milner Hotel System

Hotel Abraham Lincoln

Hotel Blackhawk

Hotel Astor

Harrison hotel

Resources Recommended by Imprint

6 thoughts on “Hotel History

  1. Nicholas Latkovic

    This immediately reminded me of “Next” — a restaurant we have here in Chicago that changes their menu and decor every season to reflect a specific place and time. When they opened this past spring, their theme was “Paris: 1910”. The idea cannot be considered unsuccessful: the establishment operates under a lottery, with patrons waiting months in advance for reservations.
    I think there is something to be said of businesses looking to place their customer in another world. The trend is growing, and reflects our desires to escape the everyday more than ever. Just once, wouldn’t you like to be handed something on a silver tray held with white gloves? I know I would, and would even pay a little extra for it.

  2. Lee Knight

    Next time in San Francisco, check out the Larkspur Hotel on Sutter & Powell, formerly the CartWright. They have a framed set of postcards from early CartWright promotion you can read while you wait for an elevator that still has, believe it, an accordian security gate. My favorite card: the one promoting the daily room rate at $1.50. By the way, kudos on your Cooper-Hewitt award from me, the guy who produces Gravity Free: The Great Multidisciplinary Design Conference. You know – the conference with all the visionary designers from different disciplines. Happy trails. Lee