#156 - The Cliff House in Colorado
This past June, Don and I had our first visit to Manitou Springs. I was pretty darn excited to stay at the Cliff House. It doesn't exactly sit on a cliff, but the location was perfect... at the foot of Pikes Peak, looking down on the cute town.
"The Inn" as it was once named, was originally a 20-room boarding house for miners, trappers and hunters. The hotel also served as a stagecoach stop.
In the hotel hallway, I spotted this photo of the inn, after it was purchased by E.E. Nichols in 1877. At that time, the simple structure stood practically alone, in the landscape.
The mining boom was over, so Nichols changed the hotel name and he changed the focus, to the nearby mineral springs. The hotel became a luxury, health resort for the wealthy.
A New Style
At some point, the hotel was given a new look. The Queen Anne Victorian image is what greeted us when we arrived. Flags and flowers, a lovely porch and bay windows! The circle drive took us to the porch.
It felt more like we were coming to visit our rich relatives, than a hotel. And the valet guys were friendly and un-rushed, as we took forever to gather our stuff. Plus, overnight valet parking was less than $10. What a bargain!
Ahhh! A Porch!
We walked up the steps to the porch and I was in heaven just spotting the cushioned, wicker seating.
People were already gathering at one end of the porch, where drinks and food were served. I took note of the heaters. Wonderful! We could sit on the porch even if the temps dropped.
The living area across from the lobby desk, was oddly formal.
I would have preferred more random antiques to the matching couches and tables. The carefully lined up furniture reminded me of my grandmother's retirement home. Which was lovely... but.
Celebrity Guest Suites
Everyone we dealt with was incredibly welcoming. The cheerful host who checked us in, said we had been upgraded to a celebrity suite.
I was pretty delighted that we were staying in the room named after Mr. Nichols. But if they'd given me a choice, I would have chosen P.T.Barnum... being a circus girl at heart.
Since our travel budget usually puts us in the cheapest rooms, we were feeling pretty giddy with our fireplace and wet bar.
Mr. Nichols gazed towards the bay windows, from his portrait over the desk.
I loved looking out over the porch, towards the mountains.
We could practically plan our walking route as we gazed out at the town below.
Comfy Chairs, Bed and Bath
It was a treat having 2 cushy-comfy chairs and a table.
Our road trips, sometimes have us fighting over the one good chair.
I've learned to expect little from bathrooms in historic hotels. Luckily the renovation in 1999, gave us lots of luxury. I would have been happy just to have had the separate sinks.
There was also a huge spa tub, a spacious, steam shower, heated towel racks and even a heated toilet seat. Too bad I hardly made use of any of those things!
I peeked in the dining room to see if it matched an old photo. The dining area was divided into 2 rooms instead of one large space.
The tables were set formally, as they were years ago. This formal space seemed fitting for the hotel.
The simple, square columns still dramatically held up the ceiling, just as they did in the old photo.
I love a little hotel exploring, but I didn't make it too far. I would have loved to have had a peek into one of the round, turret rooms.
Mostly I wanted to get inside that mystery door! The hefty, black door with the lovely painted cottage scene, had obviously been a door to a safe. But what was it now? I never found out.
Red Mountain Bar and Grill
This had been one of our hotel options for dinner. I loved the fun shape of the old building.
I also wanted to sit on the big porch and order dinner. Unfortunately, I got sick and missed out on both options. I can't remember ever being too ill for dinner, when staying at a hotel. This was a first for me.
Better by Morning
Luckily I woke feeling better. I was also starved, which was good, since breakfast was included.
The breakfast buffet was served in the dining room and the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxed. I loved sipping my coffee and looking across at the old stone, post office.
Coffee on the Porch
I missed having dinner on the porch the night before, but we took coffee out, after breakfast.
The air felt heavenly. I could have spent the day on that porch.
Before checking out, we enjoyed the morning with a quick walk around town. The retro arcade & shopping area was quiet and free of tourists.
We sampled some mineral water from one of the public fountains. Bubbly! Then we chatted with the car valet after checking out. He talked us into making the trip up to Pikes Peak. Perfect!
Sadly, I will always remember the frustration of feeling sick and not making full use of the hotel.
But with that aside, I'll remember the home-like feel, to the classy hotel. I loved our comfy room and the breezy porch. I just wish we could have stayed one more night.
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My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!