Repurposed hotels offer a glimpse into the past

Exterior of the Liberty Hotel, once the Charles Street Jail

Nine boomer bloggers describe their favorite repurposed hotels, hotels that once were something else.

Exterior of the Liberty Hotel, once the Charles Street Jail
Exterior of the Liberty Hotel, once the Charles Street Jail

Repurposed hotels offer travelers a unique opportunity to stay at storied properties that innately evoke our interest and curiosity. We can’t help but wonder what life was like for those who lived or worked in these structures before they were lovingly preserved and transformed. Whether it’s an architectural detail, an exhibit, or a legend, these properties are so much more than sleeping accommodations: They tell stories of the past.

As people over-50 begin to repurpose and reinvent their own lives for the next chapter, they tend to feel a special kinship with places that have survived the years and gained a thriving new life.

Irene S. Levine, More Time To Travel

Liberty Hotel in Boston, once a jail

Lobby of the Liberty Hotel (with the original catwalks) decorate for the holidays
Lobby of the Liberty Hotel (with preserved iron catwalks) decorated for the holidays

Once the Charles Street Jail, the heavy gray stone exterior of the Liberty Hotel in Boston, looks like an impenetrable fortress. Some 220 prisoners were housed in single 8×10 cells. Iron catwalks along the interior allowed guards to pace up and down to oversee them. The $150 million makeover, completed in 2007, created the Liberty Hotel, a luxury hotel with a theme that playfully, but poignantly, reminds guests of the building’s colorful history.

Michele Peterson, A Taste for Travel

Çırağan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul, once the palace of a Sultan

The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is a 5-star hotel strategically located on the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey.  A former Sultan’s palace, it dates back to the 17th century and offers sumptuous suites; classic Ottoman dishes in Tugra, its fine-dining restaurant; and resort amenities including a spa with hamam (Turkish bath), an outdoor infinity pool and terraced gardens.

Noel Morata, Travel Photo Discovery

Brice Hotel in Savannah, once a Coca-Cola bottling plant 

A contemporary guestroom at the Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia
A contemporary guestroom at the Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia

The Brice Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, lives up to the description of a repurposed property in the historic downtown district of Savannah. The 1860’s three-story brick building has had many lives as a livery stable, cotton warehouse and lastly, as a Coca Cola bottling plant. Converted in May 2014 as part of the Kimpton chain of hotels, the Brice is both quirky, modern and also luxurious at the same time. You can check out more details about the hotel and images on Noel’s Savannah highlight tour here.

Julie Dawn Fox, Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal 

Pousada de Belmonte in Portugal, once a convent 

Public Lounge at Pousada de Belmonte
Public Lounge at Pousada de Belmonte, Portugal

The 13th century convent of Our Lady of Hope outside Belmonte, a medieval village in central Portugal, has been tastefully converted into a luxury hotel. Pousada de Belmonte’s ancient origins are particularly noticeable in the stone walls, doorways and windows of the public spaces. The chapel serves as a cozy lounge while the sacristy has been turned into a bar. The bedrooms are far larger than the monks’ cells ever were and are named after the convent’s monks. One of its best features, however, is the view from the outdoor pool of mainland Portugal’s highest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela.

Betsy Wuebker, PassingThru

Old Bank B&B in Ireland, once a banking townhouse

Old Bank B&B in Bruff, Ireland
Old Bank B&B in Bruff, Ireland

In County Limerick, Ireland, the little village of Bruff has a couple of claims to fame. It’s the home of a famous racehorse: hurdler Istabraq, with a Seabiscuit-like underdog story. And it’s the ancestral home of the Fitzgeralds, whose descendant, Rose, went on to marry a Kennedy and birth an American President. The Old Bank B&B is a former “banking townhouse.” Cheery public rooms give way to vintage ensuites where you’re warmed by a jacuzzi bath, and kept cozy with heated mattress pads and piles of quilts and blankets in your canopy bed. From Bruff, you can explore neighboring Lough Gur and its Grange, with a stone circle that predates Stonehenge.

Billie Frank and Steve Collins, Santa Fe Travelers

Wyndham Grand Hotel in Colorado Springs, once the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange    

Outdoor seating area at the Mining Exchange
Outdoor seating area at The Mining Exchange

We love historic buildings and recycling, and repurposed hotels fits both of these. We discovered The Mining Exchange, a Wyndham Grand Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs during a Thanksgiving trip a few years ago. This grand old building, formerly the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange was built in 1902. We loved the vintage safes on each floor plus the lobby’s HUGE Diebold safe. Rooms are a tasteful mix of old and new with exposed brick walls. Stylish marble baths feature spacious walk-in showers. The Mining Exchange is a unique place to stay when visiting Colorado’s second largest city.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers – Weekend Adventures Update

Inn at the Presidio in San Francisco, once a military post’s bachelor officers’ quarters

Inn at the Presidio
Inn at the Presidio

Inn at the Presidio in San Francisco operates within the repurposed historic Pershing Hall, which once was the military post’s bachelor officers’ quarters.  Now mellow music sets a romantic mood, and a complimentary breakfast is served in the original mess hall and officer’s lounge.  And just outside the door is the Presidio of San Francisco, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  Guests have easy access to lovely trails, views of the Golden Gate Bridge, good restaurants, several museums, and some impressive Andrew Goldsworthy art installations.

Rachel Heller, Rachel’s Ruminations

The Jane Hotel in NYC, once a hostel for sailors

Hallway in The Jane Hotel, a sailor hotel in NYC
Hallway in The Jane Hotel, a sailor hotel in NYC

The Jane Hotel in New York City has personality. I knew that as soon as I spotted the stuffed peacocks mounted on the wall of the lobby. Originally a hostel for sailors, the rooms are referred to as “cabins,” and they certainly exude a nautical atmosphere. They’re tiny, like cabins on a ship, yet they’ve been renovated to a high, comfortable standard.

Alison Abbott, GreenWithRenvy

Sant Pere del Bosc in Costa Brava, Spain, once a monastery

Sant Pere del Bosc Hotel and Spa
Sant Pere del Bosc Hotel and Spa in Spain

Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava is well known for its beautiful coastline and along the water is where most visitors choose to stay. If however, you venture off the beaten path, you will find sanctuary in a 10th century monastery that has been converted into one of the area’s most scenic hotels. In a unique environment, up a long dusty road dotted with hikers with walking sticks, you will find an historic treasure at Sant Pere del Bosc, guaranteed to please all the senses.

**All photos provided courtesy of the respective bloggers. Check out their inspiring blogs for other interesting posts.  

Also on More Time To Travel: Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center: New vision for an old optical factory 

Have you stayed at a repurposed hotel?

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  1. I know I already contributed to this list, but I just got home from Nykoping, Sweden, where a few nights ago I stayed in the Sunlight Hotel. It’s a hotel and conference center that was originally a Sunlight soap factory.

  2. We’ve stayed at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul – how atmospheric! Another repurposed hotel in Istanbul that we’ve stayed at is Sumahan on the Water, a former 19th century Ottoman alcohol distillery. It has a very old-meets-modern industrial chic vibe. It was fun reading this list of reimagined hotels!

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