All Aboard: These 6 Hotels Are Located in Former Train Stations

These splendid properties will transport you to a time when U.S. train travel was glamorous.

The Grand Hall of St. Louis Union Station Hotel, with vaulted ceiling and 70-foot bar at left

The Grand Hall lounge of St. Louis Union Station Hotel features mosaics, stained glass, and a 70-foot bar

Courtesy of Historic Hotels of America

The train station was once among the grandest and most important buildings in many American cities. The golden era of U.S. train travel has faded, but you can relive some of the magic by staying at former train stations transformed into hotels. Among these six revamped hotels, you’ll experience such original features as 65-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceilings and Tiffany stained glass. Two of these accommodations are members of Historic Hotels of America, and two still offer train service via Amtrak. But you don’t need to be a rail buff to enjoy them.

1. St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Why we love it: Its truly impressive Grand Hall
  • Loyalty program: Hilton Honors
  • Book now

When it opened in 1894, the St. Louis Union Station had 32 tracks and was the largest train station in the world. Today, the restored Grand Hall, now a lounge of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, may well stop you in your tracks. The 65-foot-high barrel-vaulted ceiling encompasses a space with art nouveau mosaics, a 70-foot white-marble-topped bar, the original terrazzo floor, and a large Tiffany glass window depicting three women representing New York City, St. Louis, and San Francisco. (The station’s architect, Theodore Link, also designed the window of these “maidens of the American rail” wearing classical robes while seated on a white marble bench in a garden.) A contemporary touch: A light show in the evenings (on the hour 5–10 p.m.) colorfully “paints” the Grand Hall with fireworks, flowers, and other designs. Sit and enjoy local artisan cheeses and microbrews and soak up the atmosphere.

Once one of the nation’s busiest railroad terminals, the station was obsolete by the 1970s. After a $150 million renovation begun in the 1980s, this National Historic Landmark was transformed into a hotel with nearly 600 rooms and suites, plus shops, restaurants, and an outdoor pool. It’s now part of Historic Hotels of America. The building also houses the St. Louis Aquarium. Myriad room options include stays in the 280-foot-tall clock tower. The modern suites have vintage photographs and posters related to the station. From $143

2. Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station

Large hall at Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station, with vaulted ceiling and round stained glass window

The Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station

Courtesy of Crowne Plaza Indianapolis

  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Why we love it: Some rooms are in historic railcars
  • Loyalty program: IHG One Rewards
  • Book now

The original station where the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis stands opened in 1853, and it was the country’s first “union station”: a central terminal that handled independent rail lines. Construction of the current three-story building began in 1913. The round window over the entrance, a nod to rose windows in Gothic cathedrals, and its barrel-vaulted lobby suggest how significant the station once was.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this former station offers something unique in its accommodations: 26 of its 273 rooms are in 13 Pullman train cars inside the main building. With two rooms in each car (they used to hold between 8 and 16 compartments) these accommodations are roomier than the originals. The modern furnishings in the 1920s railcars share the gray-and-red color scheme of other rooms, but true to their railcar formation, they sport rows of small windows. Contemporary additions include individual workstations and an indoor pool. From $173

3. The Central Station Memphis, Curio Collection by Hilton

Lobby bar 8 & Sand in Central Station Memphis, with an old-fashioned neon sign saying "Yellow Cabs/Transfer Buses" and featuring a red arrow

Lobby bar 8 & Sand at the Central Station Memphis plays music by local musicians.

Courtesy of Hilton

  • Location: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Why we love it: Its midcentury modern aesthetic
  • Loyalty program: Hilton Honors
  • Book now

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans line, running from Chicago through Louisiana, still stops at the Central Station Memphis. Built in 1914, the building resembles a neoclassical bank with two-story columns. It reopened as a hotel in 2019 with midcentury modern decor. The hotel, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, claims that its bar and lounge 8 & Sand, with a collection of thousands of vinyl records of Memphis musicians, is “the best-sounding music room in town.”

The 123 guest rooms, some with views of the Mississippi River, include a two-level suite. The modern accommodations feature bright artwork and a neutral palette; the large windows have blackout curtains for an extra good night’s sleep. From $213

4. The Crawford Hotel: Denver Union Station

Exterior of the Crawford Hotel in Denver at dusk, with large curved red neon sign over clock and three arched windows

The exterior of the Crawford Hotel in Denver

Courtesy of the Crawford Hotel

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Why we love it: An active transportation hub, the hotel supplies easy access to the city.
  • Book now

The Crawford Hotel is the latest incarnation of this locale. When Union Station opened in the Mile High City in 1881, its clock tower was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. After a major fire, it took on its current Beaux-Arts appearance in 1914. At its peak as a transport center, during World War II, the building handled some 50,000 passengers daily. As with many big-city train stations across the nation, it fell out of use with the increasing popularity of car and plane travel. The renovated station reopened as the Crawford Hotel in 2014.

Heritage features are on display everywhere, from the Grand Hall, with its huge arched window, to the restored ticket station that now operates as the Terminal Bar, serving spirits distilled in Colorado as well as regional draft beers. The 112 guest rooms are filled with custom artwork and furniture. The Pullman rooms pay tribute to Pullman sleeper cars with art deco furnishings and vintage train ads; they also offer views of the train platform. Besides the hotel, Union Station contains about a dozen restaurants and shops. From $247

Travelers can still arrive here via Amtrak on the scenic California Zephyr route (Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area). Several light-rail lines, part of the city’s public transport system, serve the station and are handy for exploring Denver.

5. Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station

The lobby of Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station, with original stone floors and stained glass ceiling

The lobby of Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station

Courtesy of Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station

  • Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Why we love it: Its proximity to attractions for rail buffs
  • Loyalty program: Choice Privileges
  • Book now

This city’s historic sites are a playground for rail fans and include the French Renaissance–style Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station. Scranton, aka “Electric City,” was among the first U.S. cities to be electrified, in 1880; it also had the nation’s first electric-powered streetcar system. At the Electric City Trolley Station & Museum, visitors can ride 5.5 miles on an antique trolley.

Scranton’s other nickname is “Steamtown,” for its coal-powered locomotives. (Local seasonal trips on old trains are available.) This history makes the nearby Radisson Scranton Lackawanna Station, with 146 guest rooms, with its gray-and-gold color scheme, an ideal place to stay. The station, on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1908 and closed in 1970. A renovation preserved its original clocks, fountains, and ceilings, and the ornate lobby retains its original marble columns and a Tiffany stained-glass ceiling. From $190

6. The Union Station Nashville Yards

The cream and brown lobby of the Union Station Nashville Yards, with vaulted ceiling, chandeliers, fireplace, and large seating areas

The lobby of the Union Station Nashville Yards

Courtesy of Historic Hotels of America

  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Why we love it: Nightly live music harmonizes with its Music City location.
  • Loyalty program: Marriott Bonvoy
  • Book now

Trains served this downtown Nashville station from 1900 to 1979. After a long multimillion-dollar renovation, the Romanesque revival building reopened as The Union Station Nashville Yards. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and a member of Historic Hotels of America, the property has live music nightly in its two-story Grand Lobby, complete with marble floors, large chandeliers, and a 65-foot-tall barrel-vaulted stained-glass ceiling. The decor in the 125 guest rooms and 12 suites skews modern, with contemporary furniture and a neutral palette in guest rooms and bolder colors in suites.

The hotel is an easy walk to the new National Museum of African American Music and the legendary Ryman Auditorium. There’s also live music nightly in the hotel’s bar Ergo, which serves cocktails and small plates. From $322

Pat Tompkins has written for AFAR about books, art, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and other topics.
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