Every day, just before 4 p.m., a procession weaves its way through the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama, and culminates with the firing of a Civil War-replica cannon on the edge of shimmering Mobile Bay, paying tribute to American freedom and all of the brave souls who served in the military.
This event is just one example of how the unique stories of Autograph Collection hotels come to life by reflecting a hotel’s history. In fact, many hotels in the Autograph Collection, like The Grand Hotel, are steeped in a rich, sensorial experience that make a lasting impression on every guest. Here are three of them.
The Notary Hotel, Autograph Collection: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
After a two-year-long full transformation, the stamp of approval has been given to The Notary Hotel, one of the latest hotels to join Autograph Collection in the heart of City Center Philly. Now the beautifully reimagined, 499-room hotel is a magnificent homage to its history: Built in 1926, it was originally City Hall Annex, a place where Philadelphians went to get official documents notarized—and a time commemorated by the hotel’s unique collection of antique typewriters and bronze scuptures of vintage hats.
Today’s guests can also enjoy a notarized visit, in the form of a custom seal stamped right on their room card sleeves. There’s even a store selling local products that have been given the “Philadelphia Stamp of Excellence” from its staff. The building itself, with its exterior Doric columns and stone archways and massive arched windows, was built in the Classic Revival style, most noted for its proportion and symmetry—an idea that can be seen today in the décor. In all of The Notary’s common spaces and rooms, there’s a feeling of simplicity and balance: cool navy stripes on the bedding, monogrammed pillows, and crisp lighting that can be easily be dimmed.
Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection: Point Clear, Alabama
Overlooking Mobile Bay and surrounded by 200-year-old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa has been a luxury destination since well-to-do Victorian-era families arrived here by steamship. Built in 1847 and known as the “Queen of Southern Resorts,” the hotel is a monument to the resilience of the South and timeless Southern hospitality. And with a recent multimillion-dollar facelift, The Grand—set on a sprawling 550 acres that edge a white-sand beach—truly lives up to its name.
You’ll find 405 freshly renovated rooms, an enormous spa, tennis courts, and two championship 18-hole golf courses. Yet the history of the place is never far away. The original stone and brick fireplace still burns bright in the main building, and there’s even an on-site historian to assist who can transport you back to a time when this land served as a military hospital and Air Force training facility. Plus, every afternoon starting at 3:45 p.m., you can witness that military procession and cannon firing which pays tribute to those who served.
The Edwin Hotel, Autograph Collection: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Drawing on the rich history of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Valley, The Edwin Hotel aims to connect its guests with the local community and culture—literally and figuratively. Named after bridge designer Edwin Thatcher, the hotel overlooks Walnut Street Bridge, which Thatcher designed in 1890, and which connects downtown Chattanooga to the Bluff View Art District.
Drawing from the area’s own creative talent, the Edwin has filled its 90 guestrooms and suites, hallways, and common spaces with more than 100 pieces of curated art from local painters and sculptors. For guests who want a deeper dive into local art history, the hotel can arrange a private tour of the Hunter Museum of American Art, located next door. Modern American cuisine that honors the rich history and familiar cooking methods of the region is on the menu at Whitebird, the hotel’s approachable dining restaurant named after the city’s founder, whose Cherokee name was “Mysterious Little Whitebird.” You’ll find nearly 200 different whiskeys to choose from, including a wide variety from Tennessee, at the hotel’s rooftop bar, Whiskey Thief. With sweeping views of the Tennessee River below and nowhere else you’d rather be, you might want to make that a double.