When Don and I last stayed in Durango, we were just down the street at the iconic Strater Hotel.
But we had our eye on this hotel, for the next time.
Who Was General Palmer?
The Victorian hotel on Main avenue, was once called The Palace Hotel.
It was later named for the Civil War general, who established the hotel in 1898. The corner hotel didn't look too palatial on the front, but it was interesting to realize, the hotel wasn't just named for a general, but built by one.
Walking from the parking lot, we had a good view of the hotel's many terraces.
It's not often that I feel more welcomed by the back of a hotel. It's also not often that we are offered free parking, with a downtown hotel. Yea for that!
I was actually very intrigued by all the terrace space, for this 39 room hotel.
I didn't have any luck coming up with old hotel photos to find out how much of this was original.
The rear entrance was attractive with lots of wood and stained glass... and lots of steps.
Why do we always lug so much stuff?
I was hoping there would be some elderly guy checking us in, who just happened to be a history buff.
The young staff didn't have many answers for my questions, but they were cheery.
Lots of Coffee
Between the door and front desk, I took notice of a grand piece of furniture that held many options for coffee and tea, as well as a tray of fresh cookies.
That set up came in handy later!
It began to rain after we checked in, so I was eager to check out the cozy lounging areas.
There wasn't much of a "lobby" feel, but there were numerous sitting spots.
I like the idea of Victorian history, but Victorian furniture isn't actually the most comfortable.
Keeping an Eye Out Front
This little area facing Main Avenue had good windows for watching the rain.
But it was dim and the low couches made me feel weary.
Along the back of the hotel was a long parlor with windows. This actually looked more comfortable, but a grumpy-looking couple had kind of taken over the comfiest chairs.
They glanced up with a "Don't you dare." expression. I waited till much later for this photo!
A Wet Terrace
I took a quick peek at the largest terrace.
At this point the rain was really blowing, so we headed for our room.
I was actually very excited about riding in the oldest operating elevator in the state.
We opened the thick wood and brass door first, then fumbled with the heavy metal gate. Trying to keep the gate pulled open as we rolled suitcases over the bumpy threshold, was sort of hilarious.
A staff member saw us and pointed to a hook, which kept the gate open.
Once inside, we closed the brass door, then unhooked the gate, pressed number 2 and grinned at each other.
It seemed to take a moment, then there were some sounds and rumbling and I actually gulped at the thought of getting stuck. After some movement, the thing halted. Nothing happened.
Finally we reminded ourselves that we were in the oldest elevator in Colorado and we manually opened the gate and did all our tasks in reverse. Yikes.
Yea for Stairs!
I quickly found a door with stairs and ran down to get one more thing from the car. I paused at the desk and laughed.
"Do guests ever get stuck in the elevator because they just don't realize they have to open it themselves?" The young man laughed about how many confused guests freak out and just wait to be rescued.
"Hmm." I thought. "Do you think you might want to give your guests some elevator tips, sometime?"
Our room wasn't large, but it had all we needed.
I was sad that our only window was blocked by the bed, but I was able to crawl up and peek at the view.
Chocolates and a View
When I lifted the fringed shade I could see a nice mural of Durango, on the building across the street. Behind, I could see The Strater Hotel, where we'd stayed before.
There were a couple of treats from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, resting on the bed. On the vanity, I found a small bar of blood orange soap, made for the hotel. Very flavorful surprises.
TV, Desk and a Funny Red Chair
I'm pretty sure that red chair was not Victorian...but neither was the TV.
The modern chair sort of amused me, though. It was a lot more comfortable than the desk chair.
Vanity, Mirror and Tub
I appreciate it when historic hotels renovate without modernizing. I prefer the look of a pedestal sink and chain pull toilet.
But secretly I was okay with the vanity and giant mirror and the working tub. Sometimes I'm okay with cheating, especially if I'm a little tired.
So while the rain did its thing outside, we enjoyed a coffee and cookie break.
We even had a china, cup & saucer option. Nice.
Our hotel didn't have a bar or restaurant, but it was within walking distance to The Strater's options as well as numerous others.
We had a drink at the Strater's saloon, then wandered back towards our hotel
The street was blocked off in front of our hotel and a pie auction was in full swing! We heard one pie go for over $700.00!
The charity event continued, while we headed back to our hotel.
Relaxing on the Porch
Since the rain had dried up, we decided to make use of the hotel's porches.
We grabbed food and wine from the car and glasses from our room. We were the only guests who seemed inclined to sit outdoors. Cheers to Durango! Cheers to porches!
If Don and I weren't so fond of porches and silly things like scary elevators, our memories of our hotel stay might fade more quickly. We had no curious people encounters, there was no restaurant/bar to liven things and our room was not as "elegant" as we expected.
Our memories will be about the great location and the silly elevator. I'm glad we stayed, but doubt we'll pick it again.
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!