Historic pink hotels have never really faded. But like rosé wines, they seem to be enjoying a renaissance.
“The two eras of pink hotels were the 1920s and 1950s,” says Dak Kopec, a psychologist and professor of architecture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Now he sees millennials retiring to these historic properties for their vintage appeal.
Why? These two big waves of pink hotels — art deco and mid-century — have always been associated with prosperity and luxury, he says.
Five iconic pink luxury hotels
Here are five iconic luxury hotels with exciting backstories that will transport guests of all ages to another era.
Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club, Hamilton, Bermuda
The Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club first opened its doors on January 1, 1885; the locals still call it “The Pink Palace.” The hotel gained international recognition when it welcomed Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, who chose to stay there all winter. She called the property, which had only 70 rooms at the time, “a place of eternal spring.” During World War II, the British housed Allied soldiers there
One hundred years later, the hotel is still located on the scenic Hamilton Harbor, now expanded to include 410 rooms and suites. The updated property offers all luxury amenities, including a private beach, marina, full-service spa and a signature restaurant supervised by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. The hotel’s art collection featuring works by Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann is so impressive that guests feel like they are staying at an art museum.
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Don CeSar, St. Pete, Florida
The legendary Don CeSar, located on the Florida Gulf Coast, first opened in 1928. The lavish hotel was built by real estate agent Thomas Rowe in the Gatsby era, as a tribute to his lost love, and soon became a favorite among socialists and celebrities in the silver screen. After Rowe tragically had a heart attack and died in the lobby, Don CeSar was inherited by his estranged wife. During World War II, the U.S. Army used it as a hospital, after which it served as a convalescence center for returning pilots. Required by local citizens, a new owner led the efforts to preserve the hotel and restore it to its former glory. Don Cesar is also called a “pink palace” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The hotel offers 241 modern rooms and 36 suites with luxurious amenities, an expansive seaside spa, two heated pools, an award-winning exquisite restaurant and a beach in the backyard. Skt. Petersburg has long been a mecca in hot weather; the city claims most days with consecutive sunshine, 768 days.
The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki, Hawaii
Long before it attracted tourists, Waikiki was the haunt of Hawaiian royalty: King Kamehameha’s residence occupied the beachfront property where The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort, sits today. (Queen Kaahumanu’s summer palace was located on what is now the resort’s Coconut Grove). In 1927, with a $ 4 million investment, Matson Navigation Co. opened the Moorish-style hotel with a pink stucco facade as a luxury resort for its steamship passengers. It was quickly called “The Pink Palace of the Pacific.” After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Navy rented it as a rest and relaxation center for their personnel. In 1947, the resort was restored to its pre-war elegance followed by a series of transitions in ownership and management.
A new 17-storey Mailani tower opened in 2015, expanding the iconic resort to 528 modern rooms and 34 suites. In addition to the excellent location on Waikiki, the property features a fitness center, spa, on-site bakery, two outdoor pools and an exclusive guest area on the beach.
Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California
The Madonna Inn is located about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and has a colorful history and decor matched only by its playful style. The inn originally opened as a motel with 12 units in 1958 and became so popular that it soon added 28 additional units. Unfortunately, the original units were destroyed in a fire. The property was rebuilt in 1966 and now includes the main inn, a wine cellar, bakery, coffee shop, dining room, cocktail lounge, function rooms and shops.
The quaint hotel has a predominantly pink retro exterior and 110 unique themes and suites. Everywhere the property has an abundance of pink decor, including pink walls, pink leather chairs, pink patterned rugs, pink trash cans, pink lampposts and a pink tennis court. When the local newspaper asked Audrey Pearce, a granddaughter of the original owner, why it was so pink, she replied: “Mr. Madonna thought pink was a happy color and wanted to build a property so he could make people feel happy when they visited. Other fun themes and features at the romantic (but also family-friendly) resort include rock walls and a 45-foot waterfall that plunges into a lagoon.
La Valencia, La Jolla California
This charter member of the Historic Hotels of America first opened in 1926. When it was first built at a cost of $ 200,000, it served as an apartment hotel. During World War II, it housed young officers on their way abroad, and their brides could rent cheap units at the hotel or nearby cottages to wait for their return. A pool with ocean views, gym, sauna, putting green and shuffleboard court were added in the 1950s. Referred to as “The Pink Lady of La Jolla”, over the years, the Mediterranean-style La Valencia Hotel became a magnet for luxury travelers and a haven for Hollywood celebrities.
Since 2010, Pacifica Host Hotels has been overseeing the operation of 114 elegant rooms, suites and villas at La Valencia that strive to enhance the property whilst maintaining its vintage ambience. The landmark hotel sits on a bluff over La Jolla Beach and offers impressive views of the Southern California coastline and the Pacific Ocean.
How did the hotels become “pink?”
Dr. Kopec notes that hotels are pink for various reasons.
“Royal Hawaiian, one of the most famous, was pink because the architect was from Portugal,” he says. “Typically, you see pink hotels in places with hot climates – like Portugal, the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii and so on.”
“In Florida, pink is a popular color for hotels because they use corals to design them. In places like California or Nevada, the sun will fade red to pink, so they paint them pink to begin with, ”he adds.
What historic pink hotels seem to share in common seems to be their perennial glamor and attraction. And now they are largely Instagrammable.