Courtesy of Woodlark/Provenance Hotels
Courtesy of C. Baldwin Hotel/Will Pryce
The new C. Baldwin in Houston is named after the woman whose money helped found the Texan metropolis.
Women finally get their due at these hotels, which put their stories front and center.
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March 8th is International Women’s Day and in the United States, the entire month of March is dedicated to women’s history. Women’s accomplishments are honored in art, literature, film, and museums, and now even hotels are celebrating the ladies who have had an impact on our history—and our lives. By booking a stay at one of these eight hotels, you’re sure to learn something new about the incredible women who’ve shaped our country in a tangible way.
In fall 2019, Houston got a new boutique hotel with a story to tell when C. Baldwin, a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel, opened. The hotel is named after Charlotte Baldwin Allen, one of Houston’s unsung leaders, who was overshadowed by her husband as a founder of the city even though she used her inheritance to finance the city’s beginnings. The hotel features design by Houston-based Rottet Studio led by Lauren Rottet, and Kate Rohrer of Rohe Creative; crafted details like a 111-foot living plant wall shaped in an “X” remind visitors to make their mark in the world, inspired by a time when Baldwin was unable to sign her own name to legal documents when conducting business matters. Original portraits of fierce Houston women with flashy cars shot by local photojournalist Elizabeth Conley adorn the 354 guest rooms. Meeting rooms provide background on the notable Texan women for whom they are named, like Barbara Jordan, the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, and Miriam Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas.
At Woodlark, which opened in late 2018, guests find art by Portland local Maja Dlugolecki, and original botanical photographs by the Portland-born photographer Imogen Cunningham, known for her portraiture and still lifes. But the hotel pays homage to one woman in particular in its gorgeous bar, Abigail Hall. The brainchild of Portland food and beverage maven Jennifer Quist, Abigail Hall is named after Oregon suffragette Abigail Scott Duniway, founder of a women’s rights newspaper and vocal advocate for women’s voting rights. The intimate, 40-seat bar is in the space that formerly housed the Ladies Reception Hall of the Cornelius Hotel (the first iteration of the hotel, built in the early 1900s). The hall was a gathering place for the early 20th-century suffragettes of Duniway’s time. An emerald-tiled fireplace, custom-made chandelier, hand-painted wallpaper, a reproduction of the penny-tile floors and coffered ceiling from 1911, and cartoons by current New Yorker cartoonist Elisabeth McNair depicting suffragettes all add to the elegant atmosphere.
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The first U.S. outpost by the Lore Group—behind European hotels Pulitzer Amsterdam and Sea Containers London—the Riggs Washington D.C. brings a sophisticated boutique hotel to the nation’s capital. Once home to Riggs National Bank, the hotel debuted in February 2020 and has received plenty of buzz for its bar program; it’s home to Silver Lyan, the first U.S. bar helmed by global cocktail master Ryan Chetiyawardana (“Mr. Lyan”).
But the hotel smartly uses its D.C. location to pay homage to some of Washington’s larger-than-life first ladies with 4 of its 15 suites. For example, the Caroline Harrison Suite incorporates blue and white patterns as a nod to Harrison’s role in starting a collection of porcelain that later developed into a tradition for the White House. The suite’s decor includes an assortment of decorative Wedgwood Jasperware and other porcelain items. The Louisa Adams Suite features a baby grand piano and references to other musical instruments like a wall art display made from violins to highlight Adams’ love of music.
Belva Lockwood was the first woman admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court to argue a case, and the first woman to run for president of the United States—twice: in 1884 and 1888—even though women didn’t yet have the right to vote. A tireless advocate for gender equality, Lockwood ran a boarding school for young women in Owego, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, from 1863 to 1865. In 1878, the original building was removed and a new Victorian home was built on the site. Fast-forward to 2019, when Julie and Ike Lovelass restored the property as the five-room Belva Lockwood Inn, which honors Lockwood’s legacy. Photos and other paraphernalia are displayed throughout the hotel, a book about Lockwood is placed in each room, and the hashtag #BeLikeBelva adorns T-shirts available for purchase online or at the inn. The Lovelasses also host lunch and dinner tours on a weekly basis, which teach guests about Lockwood’s remarkable life and her accomplishments.
A dreamy hipster retreat that honors women to boot? Em Atkins and June Peterson made it happen with the Herwood Inn, a four-room hotel they opened in September 2019 in Woodstock, New York. Each suite, which includes a kitchenette, plenty of leafy plants, and a distinct Brooklyn-y vibe, is named after an iconic female musician (we are near the home of the famous Woodstock festival, after all). Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, and Stevie Nicks get top honors here, with each room containing a zodiac crystal representing the astrological sign of the musician for whom the suite is named, along with curated records and a record player. In keeping with Woodstock’s culture, Atkins and Peterson source only eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and fair-trade amenities, and they prioritize partnerships with women and minority-lead businesses supplying items like textiles (Anchal Project), vegan soap and body products (Just the Goods), and custom essential oils (Root and Resin).
The Eliza Jane, a Hyatt Unbound Collection hotel in New Orleans, tells the story of its namesake, Eliza Jane Nicholson, the first woman in the United States to own and publish a major newspaper. In 1870, Nicholson became the editor of New Orleans’s the Daily Picayune and was left ownership of the paper when Alva Holbrook, her husband, passed away. Under her management, the ailing paper became profitable. The building that houses the hotel was once partially occupied by the Daily Picayune and details in the hotel’s design point to its history and Nicholson’s story. Florals, pinks, and female form sculptures and paintings bring refinement to the exposed brick and industrial accents. The Press Room, the hotel’s bar and lounge, features antiques, books, and typewriters and is painted a blue color similar to the hue of the original newspaper ink.
A historic hotel built by and for women 94 years ago, Hotel Figueroa, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, was renovated and reopened in 2018 to honor its female-focused legacy. For years, the hotel was advertised as “an ideal stopping place for ladies unattended,” and served as a meeting place for practically every women’s club in Los Angeles and a safe haven for solo female travelers who were prohibited from checking into most hotels without a male chaperone. Today, the reimagined hotel has permanent and rotating art that showcases the work of L.A.’s female artists, and lectures, curated playlists by female DJs, and other programming (comedy shows, anyone?) that highlight women. A favorite permanent piece is a lobby painting of Maude Boldin, the hotel’s original managing director, depicted on her trademark motorcycle.
Set to open this spring from Viceroy Hotel Group, Hotel Zena will celebrate female empowerment through art, design, and relevant programming. The 191-room hotel will debut in Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood with mischievous art installations and cheeky design details that honor cultural and historical female icons, including an extraordinary mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The hotel’s lounge will host a rotating series of community programming, from salon-style gatherings to live music by local artists.
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