Back when the railroad were the only means of long distance transport, there were railway hotels built to accommodate visitors to a city. What’s more, these historic hotels were owned by railroad companies in an effort to boost local tourism. For example, among railway hotels still operating are Canada’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and Hotel Roanoke in Virginia. Although railway hotels are still around, many train stations have been demolished or renovated for a different purpose. This includes some early 20th century train stations that now serve as a train hotel. Take a look at some of these old train station hotels, along with another with a clear railroad connection.
Central Station Hotel
545 S. Main St.
Memphis, TN 38103
If you’re arriving by train into Memphis, you’ll love staying at Central Station Hotel. Indeed, not long after you depart the train, you’ll be in the hotel lobby. In other words, Central Station’s building still operates as both a train station and 4-star hotel. What’s more, you have many room categories to choose from, including a 930-square foot, bi-level suite. If that’s not enough, Central Station Hotel is set in a prime location in downtown Memphis. For instance, the National Civil Rights Museum is just a quarter mile away. Of course, the Mississippi River is also nearby. Furthermore, if you’re looking for nightlife, Beale Street is less than a mile away. Although Graceland is a bit further, you know it’s worth a visit too. By the way, one of the most famous train routes that serves Memphis is the City of New Orleans Amtrak route. It’s a 934-mile railroad trip that connects New Orleans to Chicago.
Chattanooga Choo Choo
92 Choo Choo Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37408
Pardon me, but have you heard of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel? Capitalizing on the name of a famous 1940s song, this hotel still resembles a train station. That’s because if you walk the hotel grounds, you’ll see vintage Pullman cars on the tracks. In fact, these train cars serve as hotel accommodations, complementing the train station rooms. However, by all accounts, the hotel is no frills and some say is in need of remodeling. On the other hand, this hotel has a solid place in history and a member of Historic Hotels of America. It’s also important to point out that the lobby might be the hotel’s most impressive feature. In detail, you’ll find classic 1900s era benches within the Beau-Arts structure. Equally nice is the swimming pool area, occupying another portion of the old station. The existing train station/hotel was built in 1909, on the original site of the pre-Civil War railroad station. Although Amtrak no longer serves Chattanooga, you can still take a train ride on the nearby Missionary Ridge Local.
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Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Union Station
123 W. Louisiana St.
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Downtown Union Station is clearly one of America’s most beautiful train station hotels. Just a short walk from Lucas Oil Stadium, the hotel resides near the tracks of the world’s first union station. In other words, the original terminal was the nation’s first to serve two or more railroad companies. However, it wasn’t until 40 years later to unveil a grander building, with a Richardsonian-Romanesque architectural design. After a period of decline followed by a festival marketplace, Crowne Plaza Hotel took ownership in 1996. In addition to rooms inside the station are 26 Pullman train car rooms on the original tracks. That’s not to mention the stunning Grand Hall, occupying the original waiting area. If you happen to be arriving by train, the newer station is just two blocks away. In addition, the Indianapolis Convention Center is an equal distance from the hotel.
Hotel Monaco Baltimore
2 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
With a perfect location Hotel Monaco Baltimore wasn’t originally a train station. However, this Kimpton hotel definitely has a historical railroad connection. In fact, this 1906 Beaux-Arts building was originally the headquarters for B&O Railroad. Also known as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, it’s America’s oldest surviving railroad company. Since 2009, the 13 story building has been the site of the stately, 4-star Hotel Monaco. With spectacular views of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the hotel offers 202 beautiful rooms and suites. On the higher end are presidential suites, ranging from 1,330 to 1,850 square feet. Additionally, you can dine at B&O American Brasserie, with its distinctive railroad motif. The famous Camden Yards ballpark is just a .6-mile walk and the Inner Harbor is even closer.
Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel
700 Lackawanna Ave.
Scranton, PA 18503
Another fine example of early 1900s architecture is this former station in Scranton. A grand French Renaissance-style building, the Radisson has merely a 3-star hotel rating. However, the interior design has all the makings of a five-star luxury property. For example, the lobby retains much of its original look, with a glass atrium and Italian marbled columns and floors. That’s coupled with a grand entrance and prominent station clock. The Radisson Lackawanna features 146 rooms and suites, all with stylish furnishings. In addition, the hotel offers dining options like Station Café, Trax Bar+Kitchen and Carmen’s 2.0 Restaurant. If you’re a railroad enthusiast you must also visit the Steamtown National Historic Site. In fact, you can take a train ride on a vintage steam locomotive on Fridays through Sundays. Please check online for the latest information on train schedules. Also onsite is Steamtown’s railroad museum.
The Crawford Hotel
1701 Wynkoop St.
Denver, CO 80202
With a prime location near Coors Field, the Crawford Hotel ranks among Denver’s finest hotels. Featuring 112 rooms, the Crawford occupies the space of Denver’s second union station, a Beau Arts/ Romanesque design built in 1914. One of its most distinctive features is the enormous lobby, with three arched windows at the forefront. Furthermore, this space also serves as a waiting room for Amtrak passengers. Equally important are the beautiful furnishings in each of the rooms. For example, you’ll have fine linens, marble floors in the bathroom and even iPads to read magazines. What’s more, some higher room categories feature vaulted ceilings, leather couches and lofts. Because of its location in the LoDo neighborhood, you can walk to many location attractions. In addition to Coors Field, you can walk to the 16th Street Mall, Downtown Aquarium and Marquis Theater. Just across the street from the Crawford is the Union Station Transit Center. In other words, this is where you can find light rail, public buses, commuter rail, shuttles and Amtrak trains.
Union Station Nashville Yards
Nashville, TN 37203
A Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, Union Station Nashville Yards is clearly among America’s most beautiful hotels. An enormous structure with a majestic clock tower, the hotel was built in 1900 to operate as a train station. Indeed, Union Station Nashville was a major hub for eight railroads, including the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Operating since 2012 under the Marriott brand, the 4-star hotel has 125 rooms and suites. Of course, the lobby still has features that take you back a time when it was a major train station. For instance, the original station clock still operates at its spot near the stained glass ceilings. In fact, this clock is said to feature the first digital clock in the U.S. Also complimenting the lobby space are three elegant chandeliers and marble floors. Union Station Nashville Yards is adjacent to the prominent Frist Art Museum. The hotel is also within a short distance of other attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Music Row.
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Union Station St. Louis
1820 Market St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
Of all the many train hotels in America, Union Station St. Louis is by far the largest. In fact, it was once the world’s largest and busiest train station upon its opening in 1894. Today, there there is not only 600 rooms and suites, but an amusement area including a carousel and the St. Louis Wheel. If that’s not enough, there is also the St. Louis Aquarium and light shows inside the Grand Hall. A Curio Collection hotel by Hilton, Union Station further features a lap pool, fitness room and dining options. With so many things to do at Union Station St. Louis, it shouldn’t be a surprise to know that it’s a major local attraction. Of course, other well-known attractions are nearby. For example, Busch Stadium and the iconic Gateway Arch are about a mile away from the hotel.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.