A storied seaside hotel returns to its Jazz Age glory


By Elizabeth Hutchinson

March 15, 2018


Muhammad Ali, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby all partied in the famed Crystal Ballroom at the circa-1927 Historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club in Virginia Beach. Designated trains from Chicago and D.C. deposited glittering guests feet from the front door of the brick neoclassical tower perched on a grassy hill overlooking the Atlantic. Ten U.S. presidents soaked in the hotel’s claw-foot tubs outfitted with extra spigots to draw restorative salt water baths. A Prohibition-era speakeasy and casino reportedly operated out of the basement. Perhaps juiciest of all, Richard Nixon allegedly burnt the White House tapes’ missing eighteen-minutes in the fireplace of the hotel’s subterranean Hunt Room lounge. But by the early twenty-first century, the once-regal Cavalier was embroiled in a family feud and had deteriorated to the point that Stephen King’s Jack Torrance would have been right at home in its musty near-empty halls. Then in 2013, the folks at Gold Key PHR, a local hospitality and real estate management firm, purchased the aging grande dame.