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Historic Hotels Honor the International Women’s Day

As part of Women’s History Month celebration, we look at the stories of women behind some of the world’s most iconic hotels

March 8, 2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, Business Traveler USA is turning the spotlight on some of our favorite hotels and the stories of the women they honor.


Houston’s C. Baldwin Hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, is inspired by and named after the Bayou City’s unsung hero, Charlotte Baldwin, known better as the ‘Mother of Houston.’ Born in New York City in 1805, she went West with her husband, Augustus Allen, in 1834.

He and his brother used $5000 of Baldwin’s inheritance to purchase 6,600 acres along the Buffalo Bayou, to establish a new city in the newly created state of Texas. At Charlotte’s suggestion, they named the city after one of the Texas Revolution’s greatest heroes, General Sam Houston – and thus Houston was born.


Hotel Effie, a luxury hotel property in South Walton, FL, was named after the owner’s grandmother, Effie Burns, and imbues the same Southern hospitality, charm and welcoming nature Effie was known for. As the ultimate hostess, Effie welcomed each and every guest with open arms. Her gift was to make you feel like you were the only person in the room, all with genuine hospitality as refreshing as a glass of sweet tea and a cool breeze on a rocking chair porch.


Saint Kate the Arts Hotel in Milwaukee is named for Saint Catherine of Bologna, the patron saint of artists and the original champion of the creative process. The 219-room arts destination includes a 95-seat black box theatre for rotating performances and multiple gallery and exhibition spaces. 


Hotel Zena, part of Viceroy Hotels & Resorts, is billed as a cultural hub of Washington, DC, celebrating the accomplishments of women and recognizing their enduring struggle for gender equality. It’s an interactive venue where every architectural line, material, and art installation was designed and curated to send a message of female empowerment.

The “Portrait Gallery” in Hotel Zena’s lobby features the stories of female warriors. It displays artwork celebrating ten powerful women, from Shirley Anita Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress, to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Female influences and inspirations abound at The Woodlark, a 150-room hotel in two historic buildings In Portland, OR. One of these was once the Cornelius Hotel, which in the early 1900s earned the nickname “house of welcome” for its opulent Ladies Reception Hall.

The spirit of some of those women’s gatherings lives on in the Abigail Hall hotel bar, named for Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon’s “mother of equal suffrage.” Abigail moved to Portland in 1871 and started a newspaper devoted to women’s rights and the right to vote movement. Her efforts paid off in 1914 when Oregon became the seventh state to ratify the women’s suffragette amendment. After writing and signing the official proclamation at the request of the governor, Duniway became the first woman in Oregon to register to vote.


Recently relaunched after a two-year transformation of its Spanish Colonial interiors, the 95-year-old Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles – a Leading Hotels of the World member – pays homage to its feminist roots with a permanent collection of works by female and female-identifying artists (both emerging and established) showcased in the lobby gallery.


The Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway, celebrates women in a different way. Remember the Fearless Girl? The bronze statue created by Kristen Visbal was initially installed to mark International Women’s Day in March 2017, and placed facing the iconic Charging Bull statue near the New York Stock Exchange Building in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. 


The Fearless Girl stands just four feet tall, but her fierce hands-on-hips posture and upturned head shows that she’s more than her size. She now stands in front of the Grand Hotel on Karl Johans Avenue in the Norwegian capital. 


International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.