Saratoga Springs, NY
In June, a family wedding took us to upstate New York. Don and I planned for a stop in Saratoga Springs, the town known for natural mineral springs and thoroughbred horse racing.
We spent one night at this old inn, which has been operating continuously since its opening, in 1843.
The house-like structure had great curb appeal, with shutters and porches and hanging flower baskets. It looked more like a family home, than a nursing home.
The inn wasn't exactly a nursing home, but it did open as a rooming house, which catered to the ill. Many came to Saratoga Springs for health issues back in the 1840's. Those being treated by local doctors, could get extra medical supervision at the boarding house, where a doctor supervised diet and special needs.
The New Section
When we checked in, I asked for a room in the original, "old" hotel, rather than the addition.
The woman at the desk tried not to laugh, when she told me the "new part" with the brick veneer, was built in 1866. The "new" 4-story wing was needed to handle the increasing numbers of tourists. The mineral springs didn't just attract the sick.
Dim and Cozy
When we first stepped inside, I inhaled a little of the hotel's history. The smells were a mix of old wood, worn carpet, fabric and kitchen smells. A 175-year-old building is going to smell... old. I'm okay with that.
I hoped our daughter and her husband would be fine with it too, since they were due to join us. Luckily they greeted us in vacation spirits. They seemed intrigued by charming lobby area, as they checked in. They were amused by the tiny elevator, with its mural, as it chugged us up to the second floor.
Our room wasn't far from the elevator, but the slanted floor added a little humor to our journey.
I love old floors that make you feel like you've had a little champagne!
Spacious Front Room
There are 42 rooms in the inn and not many of them face the front.
We asked for rooms on the front, but sadly the little porches I had seen in the photos, weren't really useable. But I could keep an eye on the street action below... not that there was much action to witness.
George and Martha
Mr. and Mrs. Washington were busy keeping an eye on us, from their portraits. I was amused. George's frame seemed to be hiding some kind of secret door. I peeked and it was just a boring utility box.
There were a number of curious antique furniture pieces, like a desk with a million small drawers. The bed was lovely, but too large to be an antique. I usually prefer authentic... unless there's an option of a heavenly king bed with fresh linens.
Relaxing a Bit
There was a good amount of space for lounging and washing up. The bathroom had been nicely updated.
It made me wonder about those poor patients in the 1840's, without plumbing or electricity, washing their faces in bowls of water and straining their eyes trying to read by kerosine lamp.
Downstairs in the hotel, it was fairly quiet at 4 pm.
We explored the sitting area with grand piano and sofas.
Side Room Cocktail Parlor
This Victorian parlor got a little more lively later in the evening, when the tavern was open.
I should have taken a peek at the shelves to see what the book options were.
This was my favorite spot, near the fireplace.
Winter guests probably flock to the wingback chairs, when the fire is burning.
I'm sure there was no alcohol in the inn, back when it housed patients. In fact I'm pretty sure today's corner tavern, with large windows, was probably once part of the porch.
Maybe in the late 1880's guests sipped a drink or two, when Saratoga Springs became more of a resort destination. I read about the "colorful" Primo Suarez, who ran the inn for 35 years, catering to Cuban vacationers. Maybe they served Mojitos and Daiquiris!
The quiet hotel became livelier at happy hour. Don, Heidi, Jamie and I enjoyed listening to the guitarist, who also had about 8 harmonicas.
He humored me with my request for a song that involved a harmonica, sounding like a train. We thanked our musician with a tip, before walking into town for dinner.
I could smell breakfast and coffee, before the elevator doors opened, in the morning.
The complimentary breakfast offered quite a variety of freshly baked goodies. The parlor was a little brighter in the morning. Perfect way to ease into the morning.
I tried out the rockers on the porch...
...but we didn't get a chance to try out the complimentary bikes.
Instead, we walked off our breakfast, by strolling through a nearby neighborhood.
I always appreciate a hotel, when it's located near a lovely neighborhood with gorgeous homes. I found a few, I'd like to buy!
The hotel was 175 years old! That is notable! Best of all, it was maintained and updated just enough. There had been no Marriott Makeover, to make me question the age of the hotel.
The best perk of the hotel, was it's location. We were able to walk to restaurants and shops and the Thursday evening vibe was lively and artsy! The hotel helped us imagine Saratoga Springs 100+ years ago. The location, made us eager to get to know the town of today!
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!