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Step Aboard The Queen Mary Hotel

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The Queen Mary Hotel has the distinction of combining an incredible history with amazing architectural details. Both elements appeal to Andy and me, so when we were looking for a hotel close to home to celebrate Andy’s birthday, The Queen Mary ship won our attention. It’s not without its pitfalls, but it’s a truly unique experience.

The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

A view from the deck of the Queen Mary


The Queen Mary Ship History
The ship’s first voyage was in May of 1936. Built to provide an opulent passage for its royal and celebrity guests, the designers spared no expense. In fact, to this day, the ship is noted for its extraordinary Art Deco detailing. In September of 1939, the ship was converted into a troop ship. Everything was stripped down to essentials, with the famous murals boarded over and the pools drained. Furnishings were removed, and the ship went from carrying a few hundred passengers to carrying as many as 16,000 troops through dangerous wartime waters with lifeboats that could carry only half that many lives. The “Grey Ghost,” as she was then known, miraculously escaped being torpedoed, and successfully saw out the war. In 1947, after years of being refinished to her former style once again became a glamours passenger ship. She remained in service as part of the Cunard line until 1967 when she retired to her current home in Long Beach, California.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

They say 145 people can get in each lifeboat.


Obviously, this history is greatly condensed. The ship itself has a fascinating set of exhibits that allow current passengers to see how the troops were ferried across the seas. You can read about their close calls, and you see diary entries of those who traveled aboard as servicemen and women, and war brides. You can also see how the accommodations changed from first class passengers to third class shared staterooms.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

A passport is issued to everyone who checks into The Queen Mary Hotel. Inside there is a hotel guide, as well as photos of famous passengers.


To explore the historical exhibits on the ship, you can wake a self-guided tour (which is what we did), or sign up for The Glory Days Historical Tour (you can also take the tour at Twilight). Really, the entire ship is fairly open for people to explore, but there are some places, like the first class Art Deco pool that can only be seen as part of the tours.

Yes, The Queen Mary Hotel is said to be haunted. As you go through the passageways, you will see plaques on the walls with statements of sightings that have occurred in that area. There are also night attractions that include “Paranormal Investigation” and “Paranormal Ship Walk.” Daytime tours include the “Haunted Encounters Tour.”

The Observation Bar has one of those amazing original murals and sports some impressive Art Deco fixtures and style. It can get crowded, and it’s a bit hot, particularly when the sun is coming through in the late afternoon. But you should at least wander through to see it. The Chelsea Chowder House & Bar is a fun spot for every meal. There are some nice views along one side, and there are informative art pieces on the wall giving you little factoids about the ship. There is also a small bar at the entrance. Sir Winston’s Restaurant is listed as one of the finer restaurants in the area. Alas, we didn’t get a chance to try it out (a story for later), but we do plan on returning to give it a go. While most of the ship is casual, you might want to go a bit more upscale for Winston’s. Every Sunday, the Champagne Sunday Brunch is held in the Grand Salon. I so want to do this! It’s expensive – basically $60 per person. But I’d still love to try it one day when I have enough cash to dive in.

The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

The Observation Bar


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

The Grand Salon set up for the Champagne Sunday Brunch event.


Our Experience
Let me start by saying again that we love staying in hotels that have some history to them. While some places have to work to create an interesting atmosphere, The Queen Mary Hotel was built with it. It’s not something that is easily captured on film (or by digital device). There’s just something you feel when you step on board that you have to experience for yourself. But they face an interesting challenge – how do you keep the original touches that make it so intriguing and still meet modern standards? It’s not an easy task.

The room was beautiful. We splurged a little and went with a deluxe king on M deck. It gave us a little sitting and changing area that was lovely. The built-ins were beautiful, and we even found ourselves fascinated by the air ducts. The bathroom still had the old fixtures (just there for show now) that indicated hot and cold salt water or fresh water bathing options. And while the bathroom was clean, it was showing some major wear. The tub finish was peeling and was in need of re-glazing. Also, steel isn’t great sound-proofing. When the engines were running, you wouldn’t hear the neighbors in the next cabin. Not the case now that the engines have been silenced. It wasn’t really a problem for us, but keep that in mind when you book.

The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

Our deluxe king stateroom


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

Built-ins and the sitting/dressing area on The Queen Mary.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

We were completely fascinated by the heater in our room.


We loved seeing the engraved glass on each stairwell leading to the different decks, and we enjoyed being on the M deck, as it was only one deck below the Promenade. There were five weddings going on that weekend on the ship, and we ran into three of them on Saturday afternoon as we roamed the decks. We got a chance to walk through the salons, see the artistry behind the set-up of the Midship Marketplace and enjoy sounds of the ship’s horn.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

Fans of The X-Files probably recognize these corridors.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

Midship Marketplace


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

A wine bar in the Midship Marketplace


We saw the exhibits of the radio operators, took an old engine self-guided tour, and even went around the cut-out to get a look at one of the ship’s propellers. It really was an engineering marvel, but I’m pretty sure she has seen her last days at sea. I’m not even sure they could easily move her if they wanted to do so. Right now, the “Diana: Legacy of a Princess” exhibit is being held up on the Sun Deck. We didn’t get a chance to see it, but if you are a fan, it looks like something that would really capture the imagination.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

Views from The Queen Mary Hotel


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury


Can you get seasick? Hmmmm maybe? I did get ill the night we were there, but that probably had more to do with our lunch before we arrived than the ship’s movements or any apparitions hanging about creating an uneasy atmosphere (or stomach, in my case). If you are prone to it, I’d say take a Dramamine to give yourself peace of mind, but the ship doesn’t feel like it is moving at all. It is surrounded by a stone wall, and it seems like it is probably mired in mud, as well as being “tied” down.


The Queen Mary Hotel, Queen Mary Ship, Hotels, Long Beach, California, Road Trip, Luxury

A little taste of England aboard The Queen Mary

Are there any big downsides to The Queen Mary Hotel? I didn’t like the pricing strategy. Basically, we paid one price for the room plus taxes and fees. Then when we arrived, there was another mandatory fee to cover Wi-Fi, the fitness room, and preservation fees. I don’t mind paying money into the system to help restore and preserve the ship, but if all of those fees are mandatory then add them to the price of the booking, so I know what I’m dealing with from the start. Valet is $27. Self-parking is a little bit cheaper, but on the weekend with all of those weddings going on, we weren’t going to get into that lot (although there was a ton of parking, the majority of it was reserved for valet). Food is very expensive, but it is also quite tasty, and I assume that all hotel food is going to be more expensive than what you find at an outside restaurant.

The ship is going through major modifications right now, so there are places you cannot explore. However, the places that are open have a great deal to offer anyone with an eye toward history. All in all, I would have to say that I would visit The Queen Mary Hotel again. They have music events on the ship that sound like a lot of fun, The Glory Days Historical Tour is tempting, and, of course, someday that brunch will be ours!

40 Comments on Step Aboard The Queen Mary Hotel

  1. This looks really interesting and fun. I have yet to stay in a hotel on a boat or ship! I really like the style of the bar area 🙂
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 22, 2017 at 11:18 pm // Reply

      I was fascinated by how much of the original and post-war design elements were still in use. I love that connection to history!

  2. WOW! While I’ve certainly heard of and read stories about the Queen Mary, I never realized you could stay ON the ship itself. That’s an amazing experience. I’d love to stay there as well. So cool and so much history too.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 23, 2017 at 2:45 am // Reply

      It’s a really interesting experience. It does feel a little bit like stepping back into time. Now I’m curious what it would be like to stay in the Royal Suite!

  3. I have never heard of this and I don’t live far from it! I love staying in places that have a rich history. I can’t believe when they first stripped down the essentials that it went from a few hundred to 16,000 troops. That’s a huge change in population. It makes me wonder where all that pretty furniture went 🙂
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm // Reply

      Can you imagine? They must have had a massive warehouse for it all. I know that the murals were boarded over so that they wouldn’t be damaged during the passages, but I think even some of the paneling and mirrored stairwells would have had to be removed. Massive effort, and they got very lucky to avoid being torpedoed with that many military members aboard.

  4. Megan Indoe // August 23, 2017 at 5:11 am // Reply

    WHAT! I didn’t know you could stay on the Queen Mary! We are just in Huntington Beach and this seems like the perfect staycation getaway! We have to check this out when we get back home! What a cool find!

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm // Reply

      It’s really interesting. They have a delicate balance of offering a luxury hotel (or meeting the expectations of a modern hotel) experience and keeping the authentic pieces of the ship together that make it an attraction. I hope you get a chance to go!

  5. Wow, what a great experience that you have owned here. The Queen Mary Hotel is really beautiful. I haven’t had any encounter to stay in this kind of Hotel that looks like a ship. The intricate design of the interior really had caught my attention and I couldn’t stop saying wow. How I wish to experience this as well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm // Reply

      It is a really interesting way to preserve history. She still hosts hundreds of people every night, just in a slightly different way than she did in her prime.

  6. This hotel looks so great. Queen Mary Hotel has class and unique style. I’ve promised myself that I’ll go on a cruise someday and I hope to do it soon. Thank you for this inspiring post.

  7. Ooh! How cool is this? I always love the idea of staying on a boat! Also, the Queen Mary is so iconic. I’d love to stay on this beautiful ship! I love that there are even little splashes of England on it as well!
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 23, 2017 at 8:51 pm // Reply

      It feels like you’ve got a direct link to all the people who have sailed between the two countries (and more, if you count the troop ferry days).

  8. Such a beautiful and huge hotel. I must be so interesting to stay there with all the history. Scary that it is said to be haunted but quite exciting too. I would love to stay on that ship and I know my partner would agree, haha 😀
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 24, 2017 at 3:32 am // Reply

      Every corner has something intriguing. And there are plaques all around the ship that claim certain “ghostly” sightings.

  9. Wow, it must be quite an experience to stay on the boat! I love its classic style. Your room looks so spacious as well! I will have to check it out next time I’m in California!

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 24, 2017 at 3:31 am // Reply

      It’s definitely bigger than the average stateroom. Though I still can’t imagine 12-16 people in it when they were transporting troops.

  10. First a ship for celebrities and royals, then a troop ship and afterward a luxury hotel again. Isn’t it amazing how long these ships live and how well maintained they are?

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 25, 2017 at 1:36 pm // Reply

      It really is. I’m so happy when they can preserve them rather them scrapping them and leaving them to decay. So much history there!

  11. This looks so beautiful! Like some of the ppl who commented, I didn’t know you could stay in the Queen Mary! Thanks for the tip!

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 27, 2017 at 12:01 am // Reply

      We were surprised that neither one of us had even tried to visit after all of these years. So glad we did!

  12. I’ve heard of the Queen Mary Hotel in LB, but never seen anything about someone staying there. An interesting read. I too hate those added on fees. Why not just include them in the room rate? It’s like getting charged a resort fee at a resort. Makes no sense. Sounds like an interesting and unique accommodation option, but there are some definitely downsides.
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 27, 2017 at 2:04 pm // Reply

      Those add-on fees make me crazy! But it was worth checking out, and we definitely enjoyed learning the history of the ship.

  13. Such a unique experience! I love staying in unusual places and the Queen Mary with its history is really a bucket list item!
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    • PatriciaSteffy // August 27, 2017 at 2:05 pm // Reply

      They do a good job telling the history, too. There is a full display below decks and at various points above. You get to read excerpts of letters from the troops who traveled on her, and see pictures of some of the voyages. It has had a wild history, for sure.

  14. I would love to stay at the Queen Mary Hotel, I thought it was now just a museum! I would like to see all the exhibitions. I spend my life on cruise ships so this would be so interesting. My godfather’s father was the staff captain on that ship many years ago!

  15. I heard about this and I wanted to check it out. It feels so grand. I would definitely want to stay here too.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 28, 2017 at 2:10 pm // Reply

      It feels like something out of another era — which I suppose makes sense since it literally is. 🙂

  16. This is so cool! I’ve never heard of it before. I would love to check it out. I love that it’s supposed to be haunted– that’s so interesting.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm // Reply

      There are a number of plaques throughout the ship’s corridors that indicate where people claim to have sightings. I can’t say we did, but given the history of the ship, I’m not surprised there are ghost tales.

  17. I’ve always wanted to stay at the Queen Mary! Thanks for the glimpse inside!

  18. My grandma came to Canada from England as a war bride aboard the Queen Mary back on the 1940s. My family is planning a bit of a reunion trip there next year to spend a few nights on the ship and hopefully catch a glimpse of her room. My aunt was only a few years old when she made the trek with my grandma, but she still has their ticket stubs! It was really great to hear about your experience!
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    • PatriciaSteffy // September 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm // Reply

      That’s amazing!! There are stories from the war brides in the exhibition on the lower level. It should how the cabins were decorated and they had journal entries up on the walls.

  19. Queen Mary’s Hotel looks really intriguing and full of history. Love the fact that it combines the allure of history with modern convenience and comfort. Staying in a hotel which is actually a ship is in itself an enjoyable experience I am sure.
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    • PatriciaSteffy // September 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm // Reply

      They definitely give it a shot. I do find myself fascinated with the history. There are some downsides, but overall I think it’s an interesting balance that they strike.

  20. I also love staying in a hotel with Fascinating History. Its my first time to know something like this. A ship/hotel. This is awesome. The view from the outside is totally cool!
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