The lost age of women-only hotels
From their start as “moral homes” to glamorous post-war residences, the hotels offered freedom and community for women redefining America’s idea of their place in society.
In 1929, a New York organization held a contest, offering a six-day trip to Bermuda to a “business girl” who suggested the winning name for a new women-only hotel. Names poured in: The Diana. The Patrician. Broad View. The organization would eventually choose The Sutton. But another entry summed up what the residence actually meant to the women who stayed there: Paradise.
For over a century, such same-sex hotels served as places of respite, relaxation, and full-time residence for women young and old. Born from Victorian-era fears about women’s morality, the hotels housed thousands of ambitious women who helped redefine America’s idea of their place in society.
In early 19th-century America, the idea of unchaperoned travel was almost unthinkable for