When I was told I was staying at the Lancaster Marriott I was just glad I'd have a bed for the night, writes Steve Zacharanda.

After all another night in a chain hotel would be nothing to write home about, would it?

How wrong I was, just like so many other aspects of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Marriott took my breath away.

I was expecting a business friendly but boring hotel but found a historical gem which is one of the best marriage of old and new I've ever seen.

Dominating Lancaster's central Penn Square the Marriott is attached to the eight year old Lancaster Conference Centre and retains the historic facade of the former landmark Watt and Shand department store - an Beaux Arts-style architectural gem which had stood idle before its ambitious regeneration.

The hotel lobby which leads into the convention centre is cavernous, and fascinating for a closer look at how the historic building merged into the new structure.

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The architects took a leaf out of Dr Who's book creating a modern day tardis fitting in 300 guest rooms and suites, two ballrooms, swimming pool, restaurants amid 90,000 square feet of meeting space which can cater for 5,000 people.

As the hotel and convention centre are linked plenty of guests wil never venture outside, which would waste the hotel's location, in the middle of vibrant Lancaster, the Central Market, where Amish farmers sell their produce.

Above the Marriott's facde a tower reaches into the sky so the view we had from our spacious room, which had all the modcons a modern traveller wants, was crystal clear. As the sun came up the next morning Lancaster County stretched out into the distance and our bird's eye view heped me understand the city's layout and see the Amish farmland the area is famous for.

Breakfast was a choice of a-la-carte or a belly-busting buffet which set me up for the day, the staff were polite and helpful throughout the hotel, even a week after when our $100 deposit had not been paid back.

For an international travel journalist the hotel tour is the equivalant of having to wash up a restaurant's dishes after being unable to pay the bill, whilst pretending to enjoy every moment.

If I have seen one "unrivalled conference facility" or "bespoke wedding venue" I've seen a hundred, it doesn't help I'm usually hungover.

But I could not wait to find out more about the Lancaster Marriott because there was a treasure trove of history, and it had all been woven into the building.

Lancaster was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, the escape route to freedom for slaves, and the hotel is a key site of Pennsylvania’s Quest for Freedom trail.

During the construction of the conference centre and hotel there was an excavation led by the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County which unearthed a treasure trove of artefacts and remains of the home of congressman and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens.

As I gazed into the preserved history below me it was not hard to imagine the bravery of those hiding and helping escaping slaves who, if found, could mean prison or death.

There are plans for a 20,000-square-foot, $20-million interactive museum - the Stevens and Smith Historic Site, which will be the perfect reason to return to Lancaster and its fantastic Marriott.