CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia history has become a tourism draw for many. From historic ritzy hotels to converted fire towers, West Virginia has lots of overnight rentals that take you back in time.
Here are a few of our favorites. In general, this list goes from most to least grand, so if you’re looking for a more humble piece of history, read the list from the bottom up.
Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs
When it comes to old, swanky hotels, the Greenbrier, “America’s Resort,” is about as fancy as it gets in West Virginia. The resort in White Sulphur Springs has been operating for more than 200 years, and the Greenbrier building as we know it today has been standing since the 1930s. The grounds have served as a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War and World War II, and after reopening as a hotel in 1948, the U.S. Government Emergency Relocation Center, a bomb shelter capable of housing Congress, was built there during the Cold War.
Now owned by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, the resort is considered one of the fanciest places to stay in the state. Accommodations from full wings to suites, to cottages, to more simple guest rooms are available. All the rooms are decorated with Dorothy Draper’s Modern Baroque style of décor and are definitely a step back in time.
Earlier this year, it was voted one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States.
Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg
The Blennerhassett Hotel has been operating since 1889 and was built to be the fanciest hotel in the state. It was meant to be a place where the millionaires of the day could stay amid Parkersburg’s oil and gas boom. It is believed to be the first building in Parkersburg that had functional modern-day electricity, according to the hotel’s website.
The rooms in the Blennerhassett are designed in a European style with elegant jewel tones that drew presidents and other famous guests, and the restaurant is considered one of the best fine dining experiences in the area.
Because of its long history, some claim the Blennerhassett Hotel is haunted, and several ghosts have reportedly been spotted in various parts of the hotel.
Country Inn of Berkeley Springs
The current Country Inn sits on 10 lots, several of which are historically significant. One lot was the site of a lodging house where George Washington stayed in 1784 and another was owned by James Smith, who signed the Declaration of Independence. A 500-room resort was built on part of the current property in the 1840s. The building was destroyed in a fire in 1898 but was rebuilt in 1932. Although the inn’s name has changed several times, it has become a landmark in Berkeley Springs.
Although the rooms are updated, they still have a vintage feel of historic charm.
General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg
Built in the early 1800s, the General Lewis Inn was owned by the namesake of Lewisburg and has been operating as a hotel since 1929. The Hock family, who owned the inn at that time, spent years collecting antiques to decorate it, gravitating to pieces that were from the 1800s. The decoration is still inspired heavily by the 1920s, and the guest rooms are completely unique, even down to their West Virginia-inspired names.
Graceland Inn in Elkins
Graceland recently reopened for the first time since COVID. The Victorian mansion was originally built by Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis in 1893 during Elkins’ railroad boom. It sits on top of the hill on Davis & Elkins College’s campus and has one of the best views in the city. It fell into major disrepair and was fully renovated into an inn in the 1990s. Now, it has 10 guest rooms and a newly opened restaurant.
At 16,000 square feet, it is rivaled only by its neighbor Halliehurst Mansion, which was the home of Sen. Stephen Benton Elkins and now houses the administrative office for the college. Both buildings are part of the Davis and Elkins Historic District which is considered a National Historic Landmark.
Stonehouse Bed & Breakfast in Harpers Ferry
Although not as grand as some of the other hotels on this list, the Stonehouse is the only bed and breakfast located in Harpers Ferry’s Historic Lower Town. The building is from 1839 and has five different rooms, and although it’s in a national historic park and the rooms do have a certain vintage charm, it promises “a doily-free environment,” according to its website. “The New Room” includes a balcony that give you a view of the Potomac River, B&O and Winchester and Potomac railroad bridges and Maryland Heights.
Cass Company Houses
The town of Cass remains almost completely unchanged since it was founded in 1901, according to West Virginia State Parks, even down to its accommodations. Cass was built as a logging town with identical homes for company workers to live in. The restored Company Houses are available to rent with 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms through the West Virginia Parks website. There are at least 19 Company Houses that are available, ranging from $156 to $216 per night on average.
Thorny Mountain Fire Tower in Seneca State Forest
If you’re scared of heights, this stay is not for you. In the Seneca State Forest in Pocahontas County, the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower has been an overnight rental since 2015. The tower was originally part of a series of lookout towers used to spot fires in West Virginia’s remote forests. However, they stopped being used in the 1970s, and most of the nearly 100 towers in the state have either been torn down or fallen into disrepair.
Stays in the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower start at about $115 but usually sell out up to a year in advance. In the Monongahela National Forest, the Red Oak Fire Tower is currently under construction and is expected to open as an overnight rental as soon as 2025.