Looking for a stay with a stylish backstory? We’ve highlighted six high-design characters across the country, each with a colorful past. Our picks include an Irish saloon turned into a Mid-century gem in Texas, a model of modern sustainability in West Virginia, and an architect’s own extravagant Shaker refuge in New York.
Originally built in 1869, this rare slice of Second Empire Baroque architecture maintains a prominent place, literally and figuratively, in the cultural life of one of the South’s most storied cities. It’s been dubbed “The Wedding Cake Mansion” by locals for the intricate ironwork and stained glass on its massive rounded white bay window, plasterwork, and moldings. This restored eight-bedroom beauty sits grandly in Monterey Square—the center of Savannah’s Historic District and the site of countless cinematic renderings of the city, including Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Fancy a pint? The Shamrock Saloon’s regulars likely downed many a Guinness here while the nearby Texas Capitol was under construction in the 1880s. With its place on the historic register and location deep in the beating heart of downtown Austin, architect David Graeber’s immaculately restored Mid-century Modern luxury townhouse stands out 130 years later, even in a town known for celebrating its weirdness. Kick back in the media room or take a dip in the pool, and then literally step out—through original stone facades—onto hopping Sixth Street for your nightcap.
Nature meets (design) nurture at this environmentally sound West Virginia fortress. The stunning Cliff House is a testament to luxurious sustainability. Reclaimed first-growth heart pine from a demolished factory in Georgia makes up the flooring and exterior rain-screen siding, and the overall design reflects energy efficiency at its most cutting edge, with well-placed windows for natural ventilation and Energy Star–rated appliances. Its sloped design ensures privacy, even when you’re taking in the two-acre landscape’s breathtaking river, forest, and New River Gorge views from floor-to-ceiling windows.
Attention, Frank Lloyd Wright fans! This is your chance to stay in one of the legendary starchitect’s largest Usonian-style works. The Elam House was built in 1951 and is a prime example of this offshoot of the Mid-century Modern aesthetic. Geared toward harmony with the landscape, its design elements and materials include the rare white cypress wood, stonework, and limestone piers found in Taliesin East, Wright’s own Wisconsin home of 41 years. This incredible piece of architectural history also boasts over 100 windows, three floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, guest quarters, and a backyard skating rink to complete the dream-like experience.
Architect Fritz Sulzer, a Manhattan-based employee of iconoclast I. M. Pei, spent 20 years building this majestic Hudson Valley house on 25 gorgeous forest acres as his own retirement retreat. The deceptively simple-looking Shaker exterior belies the extravagance of its sprawling holdings: There’s a two-story heated pool! There are also two waterfalls, multiple patios, a spa, a library crafted entirely from cherrywood, a bedroom built into the exposed rock—whose en-suite bathroom boasts an open shower with hand-laid emerald tile—and a fully equipped separate cabin known as “The Smoke Shack,” just for starters.
The Craftsman mother lode can be found in California, and Anaheim’s award-winning Boegy Estate boasts enough extras to attract the style’s serious devotees and anyone else looking for a fun group stay. Built in 1911 and deemed “historically significant” by the local preservation society, it is mere miles from Disneyland. Not only fit for families, this comfortable spot also boasts a sprawling front porch—a beloved mark of this architectural movement—a backyard bar, a fire pit, a fountain, a bocce ball court, all manner of fruit trees, and a small Merlot vineyard for fun-loving adults.