Welcome to my Historic Hotels blog, where you can read about some of America’s oldest and most historically rich hotels (as well as hotels located in historic places) every Wednesday! I’m a huge history buff, so writing this first one has been a lot of fun. For me, walking into an historic building is incredibly exciting because I love imagining all the people who walked through the building before me. I think about what they were wearing, what they might have been thinking, what was going on in the world around them. Older buildings represent history I can actually touch, see and smell, and that helps make the history come alive.
For this first week, I decided to write about an historic hotel that’s, well – really, really old. (By American standards at least!) The Beekman Arms is located in Rhinebeck, New York, in the Hudson Valley. If the floorboards creak here as you walk around, give the old lady a break – she’s been offering comfortable beds to guests since 1766! I’d be creaky if I were 243 years old, too.
Beekman Arms was known an Bogardus Tavern during the latter part of the 18th century, and as it was situated on a major road that winded through the Hudson Valley, visitors from all walks of life came through its doors. The inn’s front lawn was always used for firing practice by Yankee soldiers in 1775, a year before the Revolutionary War started, and an impressive list of historic figures has slept in the inn, including George Washington, Benedict Arnold and Alexander Hamilton. Some even suggest that the argument that sparked the infamous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr began in Rhinebeck, and possibly in the Beekman’s very rooms.
Over time, the Beekman played many roles, including Rhinebeck’s town hall, post office, theater and newspaper office. The inn never stopped serving hotel guests, though, and today it is known as America’s oldest continually operating hotel.
Inside and out, Beekman Arms has been maintained beautifully. The building was truly built to last – to withstand Indian attacks, in fact – and the inn’s square columns, welcoming balconies and whitewashed exterior contribute to the building’s charm and grace. Beekman Arms has 23 rooms, all of which have been outfitted with modern amenities while still retaining beautiful historic details. Yes, there’s air conditioning! The rooms on the second floor of the inn all date from 1766, and they have been completely redone with most modern amenities – and don’t worry, there’s air conditioning! Rooms range in price from about $110 to $300, and some the rooms in the Guest House are pet friendly.
One of my favorite parts about this hotel is The Tavern, which serves lunch and dinner most days and brunch on Sundays. It’s been around as long as the inn itself, and it’s fun thinking about who might have been sitting next to you having a beer 200 years ago. And, if you stay at Beekman Arms, you’ll be close to many historic and cultural sites, as well as many antique shops, a theater, restaurants and stores. The FDR Home and Library and the Vanderbilt Mansion are both nearby.
Photo Credits: Beekman Arms website