From a summer camp-style woodland getaway to a restored Bay Area Victorian, we’re spotlighting three U.S hotels that started out as family homes — and are now great places to bring your loved ones together. So say au revoir to that chateau in France and ciao to the villa in Italy — and instead host your guests at one of these stately historic homes right here in the U.S.A.
Casa Madrona in Sausalito, CA
Photo courtesy of Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
Set on Sausalito’s main street — near the marina and San Francisco-bound ferry — the Casa Madrona property winds its way up one of the area’s signature hills. The first few levels form the 31-room main hotel, while at the top sit 20 bungalows and the newly renovated mansion. Originally built in the 1880s as a private home, the Victorian-style mansion became part of the hotel some decades back, but was completely overhauled and re-launched in 2014. Today, it houses 11 airy, relaxed-chic guest rooms, many with terraces. A standout is the top-level Alexandrite Suite with perks like a hot tub, media wall and a large, fireplace-equipped terrace with panoramic views of the bay.
Photo courtesy of Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
This suite, along with the new Junto room, are top picks for ceremonies; receptions for up to 130 guests can be held in those spaces, as well as in two additional salons or the on-site Poggio restaurant. In addition to serving their signature gourmet, locally sourced cuisine, the hotel can craft any type of event to your specifications. They’ve brought in hay barrels and a mechanical bull for a western-themed wedding, for example, and once seated 100 dinner guests at one table, decorated with over 500 votive candles and thousands of red rose petals. Thanks to special partnerships, the hotel can arrange for wow moments (think champagne delivered to the terrace via a drone) and sense-of-place wedding-weekend events like wine tastings in nearby Sonoma and Napa (wedding menus start at $68 per person, location fees start at $1,000; casamadrona.com).
Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI
Photo courtesy of Castle Hill Inn
Built in 1874 by Harvard marine biologist and naturalist Alexander Agassiz, Castle Hill Inn was originally a family summer home filled with a collection of Chinese and Japanese art and furnishings — many of which still decorate the elegant spaces today. Later, it became a resort favored by celebrities like Grace Kelly, who loved to swim in the cove. All this history — combined with the beachfront location, great service and gourmet cuisine — help make the 33-room inn-and-cottage property a romantic New England favorite. Couples typically say “I do” on the beach, near the Lighthouse, or on the main lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge, then host a reception with dancing under a custom sailcloth tent on the water-facing Chalet Terrace.
Photo Credit: Stacie Kirkwood
The hotel can accommodate up to 250 guests for a seated dinner and, with 40 private acres, can organize clambake rehearsal dinners, beachfront bonfires with s’mores, late-night bocce ball and more. The popular buy-out package gives you the run of the place, and includes extras like bike and kayak rentals and afternoon tea service. No matter the party size, the on-site team works to customize every event; they’ve re-created a musical moment from the movie Love, Actually, organized a ballet performance bringing to life the couple’s love story, and — in summer — incorporated cruises on the hotel’s motorboat. After the party, the two-bedroom Bridal Suite (included in most packages) makes for an idyllic haven for the newlyweds (wedding packages start at $195 per person and include location fees, reception and plated dinner; castlehillinn.com).
The Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, PA
Photo courtesy of The Lodge at Glendorn
Family is at the heart of this lush property, set next to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. From 1927 to 1995, the lodge — which includes an all-redwood main house and a dozen guest cottages and suites — was the domain of the Dorn family, who used it as a retreat for friends and family. Though under new ownership since 2009, the property retains that easy, grown-up camp vibe—albeit one with perks like wood-burning fireplaces, turndown service, and chef-prepared meals. Onsite activities include kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, bonfires, croquet, Jeep tours, snowshoeing and fly fishing. Favorite ceremony and reception sites (accommodating up to 60 guests) include the on-site Bondieu and Skipper Lakes, picturesque courtyards, the sun porch and in front of the main house’s two-story stone fireplace. The festivities are always personalized and are often playful and relaxed: the staff once re-created the entire living area of the main lodge on the terrace — complete with rugs, furniture and artwork hanging from the trees. Other events have included fireworks, pig roasts and fishing tournaments. Afterwards, the quaint, stone-and-brick Hideout Cabin provides just that for the happy couple (wedding packages start at $105 per person; glendorn.com).
Legally Wedded: All three states require a marriage license. Couples must present, in person, proof of birth (or age), a valid form of government ID and, if applicable, a divorce decree or death certificate. The fees, which start at $35, vary from county to county in California and Pennsylvania; Rhode Island charges $24 for a license. Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days in all three states.