Since opening its doors in 1895, The Jefferson Hotel has stood proudly as one of Richmond, Virginia’s most opulent and regal of spaces.
As well known by the locals for its Sunday champagne brunch and daily afternoon tea service as it is by travelers from distant places for its ever-elegant service and comfort, the hotel has been called “The Best Hotel in America” by Forbes Magazine, and has likewise earned a five-star rating from both Mobil and five diamonds from AAA.
Despite having undergone several renovations over the years, the Jefferson maintains its distinctive sense of old world charm, most prominently displayed in its grand staircase leading from the second floor into the main lobby, ending underneath a grand rotunda.
Among its quirks: the hotel once housed an indoor wading pool whose inhabitants included pet alligators donated by local residents, and the staff happily regales inquisitive guests with tales of the property’s past, including a fire that luckily spared one very famous guest who, thankfully, fled the flames: the one and only Thomas Jefferson himself.
As for the remainder of its esteemed roster of former guests, there’s no shortage of luminaries and politicos. The hotel has hosted a dozen U.S. presidents: Harrison, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Taft, both Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin Delano), Truman and Reagan, both Bushes and Obama.
Other recognizable names who have enjoyed a night’s rest at The Jefferson include Admiral Dewey, Sarah Bernhardt, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Vanderbilts, Whitneys and Barrymores, Gertrude Stein, Sir Edmund Hillary, Charles Chaplin, Nelson Eddy, Robert Mitchum, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley (who, according to the hotel, “enjoyed a breakfast of bacon, eggs over easy, milk, no coffee, and home fries, capped off with a scoop of ice cream in cantaloupe.”).
The hotel also proudly relays the following: “Sergei Rachmaninoff once played in The Grand Ballroom, and one of the world’s most famous dancers, Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, was ‘discovered’ as he waited tables in the dining room.”
The Jefferson Hotel stands in central Richmond at 101 West Franklin Street. Reservations may be made through the hotel’s website.
Photo credits: The Jefferson Hotel