Historic hotels are reasonably easy to come by in Europe. In America, they’re a little harder to find – but, when you do, they’re usually impeccable. The Dearborn Inn in Detroit is no exception.
Located in the city of Dearborn, about a 20 minute drive from downtown Detroit, the Dearborn Inn is special not just for being historic, but also for what that history is.
It sits in the grounds of The Rouge, a factory complex of car maker Ford, and was commissioned and overseen by Henry Ford. Ford is arguably as important to American history as Lincoln or Obama, and has influenced the lives of people across the globe in the same way as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. He may not have invented the car, but he turned it into a form of mass transportation, transforming the way we travel and, consequently, the way we live our lives.
The Dearborn was built in 1931 when Ford noticed that visitors to The Rouge had nowhere nearby to stay. Naturally Ford, being one of the world’s wealthiest men, put up a hotel.
It’s colonial style, inside and out. Think a scaled-down, red brick version of the White House and you’re not far off. This means the rooms are ever so slightly on the chintzy side, but incredibly well appointed. It feels like a hotel to be seen in, yet you feel cozy in the same way you would at your great aunt’s house. The beds are among the most comfortable we’ve slept in (they’re huge) and while the rooms are large, they’re not imposingly big, as in some American hotels.
Curiously, Ford also built to-scale models of the homes of some of his childhood heroes in the Dearborn’s grounds. This means you could stay in an apartment in an exact replica of Edgar Allen Poe’s house, should you wish. They’re not to everyone’s taste, but they certainly offer a unique lodging experience.
As far as food goes, The Dearborn is good – very good. Breakfast comprises just about everything you could ever wish for. This being the USA, the pancakes are incredible, as are the omelets and the all-American sausage gravy, which we’re sure is deeply unhealthy, but is oh-so moreish.
The Dearborn’s a short drive from two of Detroit’s must-dos: the Rouge plant itself, where Ford assembled the F-150 truck, (which happens to be the most popular vehicle sold in the USA), offering a fascinating glimpse into a modern production line, and the Henry Ford Museum. The museum isn’t just a museum about cars (though these feature heavily) but a museum of everything.
There are planes, trains and automobiles (including the Lincoln limo that JFK was riding in when he was assassinated), as well as machinery, furniture and exhibits charting the civil and women’s rights movements. You can sit on the very seat Rosa Parks refused to give up while listening to the heroine tell the story of that day.