RICHMOND, VA - USA -05-16-2022: Exterior of the historic Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond Virginia

The Jefferson Hotel


At Richmond’s iconic Jefferson Hotel, you’ll find turn-of-the-century glamor, high tea and some infamous (and now dead) alligators.


A neo-baroque masterpiece that’s a little past its prime, but still epically luxurious.

You know a hotel is fancy when they used to keep alligators as pets. You heard me right: two alligators used to live in the sunken pools of The Jefferson Hotel’s Palm Court, a two-story indoor courtyard framed by massive columns and palm-leaf frescos. Upstairs, portraits of old U.S. presidents peer at you from deep burgundy walls. You might half-expect to bump into a gentlemen in tails, cigar chomped between his lips as he descends the grand staircase of afternoon tea.

This is the Jefferson Hotel: a luxurious, turn-of-the-century architectural masterpiece — think Beaux-Arts and Spanish Baroque-style design — that sits smack in the middle of downtown Richmond, Virginia. Construction began in 1892, planned and financed by Confederate general-turned banker-turned-tobacco-manufacturer Lewis Ginter (welcome to Virginia), and designed by architects who later did the New York Public Library. The hotel’s grand opening? The wedding of socialite Irene Langhorne, who later became the inspiration for the famed Gibson Girl look, illustrations which defined feminine style in the early 1900s. And the big names have kept coming to the Jefferson Richmond: The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley and Anthony Hopkins have all spent a night at the Jefferson.

All that being said — your Samantha American girl doll would not look out of place in one of those cream high-backed chairs. Above the lobby, nine Tiffany stained glass windows are monogrammed with the hotel’s seal, and displays of china and old books are locked away from dust. Each nook and cranny is lovingly cared for, and you’ll be bamboozled by the attention to customer service—southern hospitality is so a thing. And on Friday and Saturday afternoons, feast on finger sandwiches and fresh scones (with Devonshire cream) at the hotel’s high tea. 


Virginia’s capital city, Richmond is artsy, historic and culturally diverse.

The Jefferson Hotel Richmond takes up a whole block of Downtown Richmond, a relaxed city with that perfect combination of plenty to do and plenty of parking. As an affordable, university town, it also has thriving arts and underground music scenes. And yes, expect friendly Southern hospitality wherever you go.

While the Jefferson’s immediate surroundings might feel like #boring concrete jungle, visitors can easily walk to top museums, historical sites and some pretty swell restaurants. Here’s what we recommend: 

  • See historic and contemporary visual masterpieces at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, including paintings by Cy Twombly and fantastical abstract quilts from the Gee’s Bend quilters. (2.2 miles, 10 minute drive) 
  • Visit the American Civil War Museum – Historic Tredegar, and learn about the daily lives and struggles of Americans during the conflict. Interactive displays are paired with selections from their impressive collection of 19th century artifacts. (1 mile, 25 minute walk)
  • Looking for a leisurely brunch or lunch? You must sink into a booth at Perly’s, a modern take on a traditional Jewish deli. If you like brunch sweet and sticky, their cinnamon babka french toast will have you lip-licking. If you’re in the mood for something savory, the list of specialty sandwiches will have you ecstatic about all things pickled. (.3 miles, 6 minute walk)
  • Explore historic Carytown, an eclectic neighborhood known for its indie boutiques and farm-to-table eateries. (3 miles, 7 minute drive)
  • If you like your late night a lil’ punky and a lil’ funky, head to GWARbar where you can scarf down meat-loaded Nachos Destructo as you sip on a Techno Seductress (Espolon Tequila, Coconut Rum, Habanero Syrup, Pineapple, Lime). 


Guest rooms at The Jefferson Hotel would make your grandmother swoon. 

Think traditional. Guest rooms at this luxury hotel are spacious, with cream walls, geometric wall-to-wall carpeting and plush, light bedding. The indestructible, traditional wooden furniture may look a little dated to the contemporary eye, but give it a few more years and it’ll be back at the height of interior fashion. Tall windows overlook downtown Richmond, giving people watchers plenty to do. In the bathrooms, marble counters lend a luxurious feel, as do the soaking tub and tiled walk-in shower. Amenities are firmly in the 21st century: each room comes with a Nespresso maker and supplies, Molton Brown bath products, and is Virginia Green Certified. 

Premier Room (King, starting at $285): each 400 to 450 sq. ft. room has a king-sized bed, a small-sized table, a regular-sized chandelier, and a glorious-sized armchair. TVs and closets are American-sized. Soaking tubs are Goldilocks-sized, and walk-in showers are tall people-sized. 

Grand Premier Room (King or 2 queens, starting at $295): each 500 to 600 sq. ft. room is little suite-sized, with a sitting area, vanity, small-sized dining table with two chairs. Bathroom counters have two sinks, and toilets can be found behind closed doors in European-style water closets. 

Richmond Suite (King, starting at $450): 700 sq. ft, including a separate living area. (Connecting rooms or suites are available.)

Virginia Queen Suite (Queen, call for reservations): 900 sq. feet, marbled foyer with half bath, galley kitchen with full size refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave, plus a living area with sleeper sofa and TV. The bedroom has a second TV, a master bath and dressing area.

Virginia King Suite (King, starting at $450): 900 sq. ft. A foyer leads into the living area with dining table for 6 and wet bar. The Bedroom has a second TV and masterbath. (A connecting Richmond Suite is available.)

Ginter Suite (starting at $1100): foyer with half bath, living room (with dining table for 6), and kitchenette. The bedroom has extra seating, a second TV, a master bath and dressing area. 

Jefferson Suite (King, call for reservations): the fanciest the hotel offers, this 1,400 sq. ft suite has a bedroom with a king-sized bed, two living areas, a kitchenette (with full fridge), a dining table for 6, a sleeper sofa, and two bathrooms. There’s also a grand piano, just in case you need to weep over some études and a glass of scotch in these formidable lodgings. 


The Jefferson Hotel’s five-star offerings — including an upscale restaurant, bar, indoor pool, gift shop and salon — are charming and bring to mind the setting of many an early 90s rom-com.  

Lemaire Restaurant

Named after Etienne Lemaire, Thomas Jefferson’s second maître d’hôtel (or steward), Lemaire is a white-tablecloth new American restaurant. As is often the case, New American here euphemistically signals overpriced meat dishes, artfully plated. But the service is spot-on and the experience luxurious, so if you’re feeling particularly disinclined to leave the building, dine in and order the Crispy Chesapeake Bay Oysters and Earl Grey Crème Brûlée. (How could you not?)

TJ’s Bar and Lounge

Dark wood paneling lines this long, old-school bar, located to one side of the Rotunda Room. If you drink here, make sure to wear a baggy pinstripe suit and bring a cigar. (TJ’s, the Rotunda and the Mezzanine are also where you get the popular Champagne Sunday Brunch. Definitely call ahead for reservations.)

Indoor Pool

It’s hard to leave this indoor pool, lit by a glass pyramid skylight and lined with palm trees and lounge chairs. Locker rooms are available, as are plenty of fluffy bath sheets — so go ahead and be your towel goblin self, no one will judge. 

Gift Shop

A strong lavender scent filters out of the Gift shop, where you can buy toy alligators and mini-chandeliers, as well as a whole host of soaps and lotions.


An austere, light-filled beauty parlor where you can get a perm and a manicure.


What’s the hotel’s address?

101 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23220

When is check-in and check-out?

Check-in is at 4 PM and check-out is noon.

What are the basic amenities?

The amenities include free wifi, a swimming pool/indoor pool, a fitness center, 24-hour room service, concierge, meeting rooms, minibar in rooms, and they even have bathrobes for you. There’s also free self parking.

Is it a pet-friendly hotel?


Is there an on-site ATM?


Is there valet?

Yes. There’s on-site valet and self parking.

How far is the Jefferson Hotel Richmond from Washington DC?

107 miles.

How far is the Jefferson Hotel Richmond from Portland, Maine?

650 miles.

How far is the Jefferson Hotel Richmond from Miami, Florida?

950 miles.

Anything else to know?

It’s a member of Historic Hotels of America and listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.