At the turn of the century, New Hampshire’s White Mountains were a marvelous attraction for city folk from Boston and New York City. Looking to escape their busy lives, rich city families would summer in the picturesque mountain range, most of which was serviced by an intricate series of railroads. Grand hotels would pop up all over northern New Hampshire during this time, but perhaps none were grander than the Mount Washington Hotel.
Completed in 1902, the hotel was the passion product of coal broker Joseph Stickney, who reportedly hired 250 Italian artists to construct the hotel from the plans of famed Gilded Age architect Charles Alling Gifford. The hotel enjoyed great prosperity until prohibition and the Great Depression crumpled the hospitality industry. Sneakily, the hotel opened a speakeasy on its bottom floor hidden within the deep stone walls, a bar and billiard lounge which still exists today for guests to enjoy. But even this wasn’t enough to save the hotel. It seemed like the hotel was doomed to foreclose until 1944, when a wealthy Bostonian snatched the property up with the hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Luckily, a meeting of some of the most important post-war diplomats was looking for a venue to host just around this time.
From July 1st to the 22nd, 1944, delegates from 44 different nations met in a conference room at the hotel to agree on the rules for a post-World War II international monetary system. Here, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development were formed. The meeting was a Bingo sheet for important figures in post-war financial diplomacy, boasting names like Fred Vinson, Henry Dexter White, and Sir Leslie Melville, to name a few.
Before 1999, the hotel was seasonal, only staying open for the prosperous spring and summer months. But it was impossible for hotel administrators to ignore how popular northern New Hampshire was for winter sports, and a decision was made to keep the resort open year-round. As the years have passed, the hotel has only expanded further and further, outliving many of the hotels it was once built to compete against. You see, most of the Gilded Age grand hotels were built of wood, and it was an unfortunate commonality that they’d burn down. Despite being made of wood itself, the Mount Washington Hotel has survived all these years, becoming not only one of the oldest Gilded Age Grand Hotels in New England, but the entire United States.
The Mount Washington hotel offers golfing, swimming, a spa, shopping, stunning views of the Presidential Range, and even its own post office. Even those without reservations are welcomed to walk around the establishment and marvel at the perfectly preserved beauty of New Hampshire’s palace.
Know Before You Go
Even if you aren't a guest, you are welcome to walk around and have a drink on the back porch.