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They’ve hosted presidents, celebrities, weddings and thousands of travelers for generations. They grace their communities with stunning architecture, outstanding food and entertainment. They are Iowa’s historic hotels. The five 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 along with modern amenities to serve the needs of today’s business and leisure guests.
The Blackhawk Hotel
The Blackhawk Hotel occupies one of the oldest continuously operating hotel sites in the country. It opened in 1853 as a wooden frame “stage coach” hotel called the Winslow House. In the late 1870s it was destroyed by fire and was replaced with the four-story structure that is standing today. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Blackhawk offers one of the few true historic hotel experiences in the nation with accommodations ranging from economy to luxury multi-room suites. The hotel is filled with antique furnishings and modern amenities like high speed internet. Its location on Main Street couldn’t be better for great dining, shopping and nightlife.
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 have stayed at the Winneshiek. Whether a distinguished guest or a weekend traveler, the hotel’s restaurant and spa will make any guest feel pampered.
Historic Park Inn Hotel
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 and 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 slipped to become a third-rate establishment, eventually closing. 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.
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!
The Inn at Okoboji Resort
The Inn at Okoboji Resort has been an Iowa Great Lakes tradition since 1896. It was built on the northeast shore of the famous blue West Okoboji Lake to take advantage of cool summer breezes off the lake. The Inn was razed in 1955 and was replaced by the New Inn Resort Complex. In 1999, The Inn at Okoboji was restored. The lakefront accommodations at The Inn at Okoboji Resort include a par three nine-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor swimming
pools, hot tub, dining, boat rentals, shuffleboard and more.
Four (more) Historic Hotels that are Nearly 100 Years Old