When Veronica Hershey was planning a trip to Las Vegas, her friend told her about an unadvertised suite at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino.
It was the former penthouse of Jackie Gaughan, a famed Las Vegas casino owner with eccentric taste. After a renovation, the owners decided to preserve the 2,700-square-foot space in his honor. The bathroom has a pink marble tub with gold swan faucets. The living room walls and floor are upholstered. There is a romper room covered with oversize shag pillows. It was recently used as the set for one of Ellie Goulding’s music videos.
The hotel considers this suite a gem but doesn’t promote it. It isn’t even listed as an offering. Rather, it’s kept under wraps, available only to guests who learn it exists through word of mouth and request it.
Intrigued by “the secret factor,” Hershey selected it for her trip. “The experience was outstanding,” she said. “The room was immaculate with two living rooms, full kitchen and even a retro wet bar. I was torn between telling everyone I know or just keeping the secret for myself.”
While ordering off-menu items has become trendy among knowing foodies, few travelers realize that they can do something similar when they book a hotel room. Across the globe, many properties have accommodations that are hidden from everyone except those clued in to their existence.
Many of these rooms, like the Jackie Gaughan suite, have exceptional histories or aesthetics.
At the Warwick New York in Manhattan, there is a corner suite named after Cary Grant, who lived there for 12 years. From the hallway it resembles any other room. Inside, guests find a wraparound terrace and wood furnishings and floral curtains similar to what Grant, or other famous guests like the Beatles, would have enjoyed. Many people learn about the room from previous guests; it can be booked by contacting Angela Calabrese, the director of reservations. “This is what hospitality is all about,” she said, “having some secrets we only share with our special guests.”
Union Station Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., has Room 711, where a ghost named Abigail is said to linger. The property was once a train station, and according to one legend, Abigail threw herself in front of a train there after losing her lover in World War II. While the rest of the hotel has a modern, chic design, this room comes with antique furnishings like a four-poster bed and artwork inspired by her tale.
Suite 5000 at Mandarin Oriental, New York features a private art collection, a Swarovski crystal wall, a curated record collection and floor-to-ceiling views of Central Park. It too is available only to those who know about it (travelers can request it when they call to make a reservation).