Named for the vice president of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, this 1928 Rapid City landmark was renovated in 2010 but has done a good job of preserving its roots. Guests feel a strong sense of the past when walking into the lobby thanks to a colorful timber ceiling, chandelier, leather chairs and artifacts from the hotel’s Old West heyday. It seems fitting, too, to stay here after walking among Rapid City's bronze statues of U.S. presidents. Ronald Reagan sports a rugged rancher pose across the street from the hotel; Jimmy Carter appears to be waving at him from the opposite corner. Reagan and five other presidents—Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford—have all stayed here.
This is not to say that the Alex Johnson is stuffy or overly old-school. Far from. There's a large modern cafe that stays open late, the Vertex Sky Bar offers outstanding views and handcrafted cocktails, and the Paddy O'Neill's Pub bustles with live music and a younger crowd.
Be aware, parking isn't convenient (expect to walk at least a block) and bathrooms are small, but for anyone who appreciates history or who wants to stay in the hub of Rapid City's lively downtown district, this hotel is the place to be. Room rates drop as low as $39 to $84 a night in the off-season but generally range from $79 to $139 in the summer. The ritzy six-person presidential suite rents for $700 a night.