11 stylish hotels in former schoolhouses

Are you too cool for school? Not if you want to stay in any of these hip hotels, all of which are housed in former learning institutions. Whether in stately stone buildings or quaint, one-room, clapboard houses, these lodgings make the grade when it comes to combining contemporary design with whimsical classroom accents, ranging from in-room chalkboards to gymnasiums repurposed as chic restaurants. At these 11 hotels, you'll be glad that school's back in session.

  • 1. Washington School House Hotel

    Washington School House Hotel

    Courtesy of Michael Spengler

    Where: Park City, UT

    An 1889 schoolhouse-turned-hotel, the Washington School House Hotel, named for the first President and housed in a landmark limestone building, is a welcome addition to Park City,Utah's winter playground. Don't expect austere interiors, as this 12-room inn and Fodor's 100 Hotel Award winner, boasts antique Bergere chairs, Pratesi linens, Persian rugs, and wood-burning fireplaces. Main Street, lined with gastropubs and apres-ski spots, is a block away; the town's main ski lift, delivering you to powdery runs in winter and wildflower-studded trails in summer, is only a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

  • 2. Hillside Schoolhouse

    Hillside Schoolhouse

    Courtesy of Noah Kalina

    Where: Barryville, NY

    It doesn't get more charming than a one-room schoolhouse, which is what the two-room Hillside Schoolhouse was in its former life. Dating from 1893, the white clapboard building in Sullivan County (90 miles north of New York City, in the scenic Catskills region) has undergone a top-to-bottom renovation. Downstairs is the homey communal area with comfy leather couches, cowhide rugs, and slate chalkboards for doodling, while upstairs are the modern, minimalist rooms including one located under the old bell tower.

  • 3. McMenamins Kennedy School

    McMenamins Kennedy School

    Courtesy of Liz Devine/McMenamins

    Where: Portland, OR

    Guests who stay at this former elementary school dating from 1915 are definitely not too cool for school. The offbeat 57-room McMenamins Kennedy School, in the bohemian Alberta Art District, has fully embraced its educational history. The former cafeteria has been transformed into the lively Courtyard Restaurant, while the auditorium now functions as a movie theater outfitted with vintage chairs and couches. Meanwhile, in the Detention bar, guests can sample local Portland microbrews.

  • 4. The Schoolhouse Hotel

    The Schoolhouse Hotel

    William Murphy

    Where: Dublin, Ireland

    The owner of the former red-brick St. Stephen's School, which opened in 1861, gets a gold star for keeping many of its stunning architectural details in what is now the Schoolhouse Hotel, including the beautiful, arched wooden ceiling in the restaurant and a large peat-burning fireplace in the bar. The 31 rooms, named for Irish writers (Joyce, Wilde, and more) offer modern comforts like Wi-Fi and flatscreen TVs. Its location in quiet Ballsbridge is just a 10-minute walk to Dublin's major attractions, including Merrion Square, Trinity College, and Grafton Street.

  • 5. Great John Street

    Great John Street

    Courtesy of Great John Street Hotel

    Where: Manchester, England

    If a student snuck up the boys or birls staircase to the roof back when this historic brick building was a Victorian grammar school, it would have likely resulted in a ruler across the knuckles.These days, however, guests can ascend the original staircases in Great John Street to have a cocktail or take a dip in the hot tub on the trendy rooftop terrace. Other stylish additions include the Oyster Bar (which serves a popular afternoon tea) and the cozy, book-lined library. The 31 duplex suites feature wrought-iron railings, hand-carved headboards, and egg-shaped tubs.

  • 6. The Davie School Inn

    The Davie School Inn

    Where: Anna, IL

    In a nod to its schoolhouse roots--the two-story Davie School Inn functioned as the town's public school from 1910 to 1966--there's a flagpole with Old Glory waving in the breeze at the inn's entrance and each of the 11 rooms comes with an original chalkboard but don't worry, no rote writing is required. The spacious digs also feature king-sized beds and Jacuzzi tubs. The inn makes for a great base when exploring southern Illinois main attractions, such as the Shawnee National Forest and the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

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