Being in the hotel business, I have always been fascinated by old hotel keys. In the lobby of our office, there is a hotel key cabinet from the 1800s and it is full of vintage and or historic hotel keys. There are many keys (as best I can tell) that date back to the late 1800s and additionally, there are many mid-century examples from the ’50s and ’60s. In the collection are three keys from the historic Rice Hotel in Houston Texas where John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline (Jackie) Kennedy stayed the night before he was assassinated in Dallas the next day.
I also have a lot of early vintage Holiday Inn keys because I have always been fascinated by Holiday Inns because of how it was founded (the timing and reason) and who founded it. Kemmons Wilson was a small home builder in Memphis Tennessee with no formal education who came up with the idea for Holiday Inns on a family trip to DC. He went on to build the company into one of the greatest success stories of the 20th century. Also, I love Holiday Inns because for 29 years I have handled most of the hotel transaction work for the Wilson family (Kemmons Wilson’s sons and grandsons) and I just love the history and the story of their family. One time I was leaving a Holiday Inn and the towels were so thick I could hardly close the suitcase.
Many of the keys I have are from other countries and probably just about every franchise hotel brand over the last 100 years. The most comical key I have is from the Hotel Americas. The key ring weighs about two pounds and it is the size of an appetizer plate. I guess in the ’40s they had a real problem with guests stealing the keys.
So, the old adage about if these walls could talk . . . well if the old hotel keys could tell their secrets, wouldn’t they have some stories? KT
PS – the thing about the Holiday Inn towels in the suitcase was a joke. Just wanted you to think about it a little. ha