Mount Washington Hotel

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The Mount Washington Hotel rises majestically over a wide plain at the base of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The building was designed by architect Charles Alling Gifford in an elegant Spanish Renaissance style, and was built between 1900 and 1902. It was the brainchild of wealthy industrialist Joseph Stickney.

In the 19th century, the spread of rail lines into the White Mountains led to an explosion of tourism to the area. Hotels sprang up among the mountain wilderness where people could reside for the summer months, enjoying fresh air and outdoor activities. In some ways, the Mount Washington Hotel was the culmination of this era. Opening in 1902, the hotel was the largest and arguably the most ambitious of the Grand Hotels in the White Mountains region. It was furnished with all the luxuries and elegance the times could provide—electricity, a heating system, indoor swimming pool, and Tiffany stained-glass windows were among the many expensive details. It was seen as a harbinger of the future, but business at the Grand Hotels began to decline not too long after the Mount Washington hotel opened. Two world wars and the Great Depression undoubtedly put a dent in the hotel business, but it was probably the advent of the automobile which did the most damage. Once people could move more freely and rapidly, they became less likely to remain in one location for an entire season.

Whatever the cause of the decline, the Mount Washington managed to stay open almost continuously throughout it's century-plus lifetime while many other large hotels in the area closed permanently. In recent years, the hotel has had something of a resurgency, being consolidated with the nearby Bretton Woods ski area as part of a larger resort. In 1999, the hotel remained open during the winter season for the first time ever. It had until then been closed for the winter every year. The resort is currently undergoing a $50 million renovation project with the aim of modernizing and expanding while still maintaining its historic character.

The Mount Washington was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. And apart from its historical significance in the New England tourist industry, the hotel has an interesting role as the setting for the 1944 Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference. Representitives from around the world convened there in July of 1944 and established the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

A stay at the hotel today is still an experience in luxury as well as an experience of history. The opulent architecture harkens back to the splendor of yesteryear, but the hotel still provides all the modern conveniences one could ask for. There are plenty of activities and events to keep you active, including golf on the 27 hole course occupying much of the immediate grounds. But the experience of relaxing on the seemingly endless veranda is alone worth the price of a room. The breathtaking views of the mountains here should be on your list of things to see in this lifetime. If you're ever in the area and are partial to luxury and history, consider staying at the Mount Washington Hotel.

Route 302
Bretton Woods, NH 03575


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