Downtown Oklahoma City
Don and I often avoid city hotels when we're on road trips. The traffic and parking fees just add to travel headaches.
But when I ran across the Skirvin Hotel on the internet, I was just too intrigued. We decided to make a stop, while traveling through Oklahoma.
Built in 1911
I was eager to lay eyes on the hotel that W.B. Skirvin built over 100 years ago. It is said to be the oldest in OK City.
As we drove through the city on a Friday afternoon, the 14-story hotel suddenly appeared. It was every bit as impressive as the internet photos. Hopefully there wasn't some catch. $119. seemed awfully low, for city hotel, with 50-million-dollar renovations.
A Grand Entrance
There was quite a bit of activity when we pulled up to valet park. Don and I fumbled to grab what we needed from our overpacked car. The valet staff was friendly and efficient.
I looked up at the rounded structure as we headed towards the revolving doors. There were two of those wonderful curved connections, between the 3 tower-wings. They just don't make buildings like this anymore!
Pillars and Chandeliers
When we stepped inside the lobby, my eyes followed the square pillars upward. Who were those crazy faces, looking down from the top?
I continued staring far above my head, where 7 fabulous Murano glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling.
The desk team didn't look quite like these smiling gals from 1950, but the staff was very welcoming. They even asked if we would like a high or low room. High Please!
I loved seeing the vintage photo later and recognizing the carved scroll panels that I'd seen on the lobby desk. We continued to finding hints of the original hotel as we explored later. I so love a renovation that preserves some history!
The mix of historic and modern decor was pretty fun. But I also found the grand scale of the whole place rather entertaining!
Don is a foot taller than me, so I love it when he looks small. The giant lamp and hanging chandelier made Don look child-sized, as he sat relaxing on the sofa.
When I pushed the button for the elevator, I really felt like I should be traveling with a steamer trunk, or at least a vintage cosmetic case.
The ornate, art deco door covers were added to the original doors in 1930. Pretty impressive!
Climbing to the Mezzanine
If we hadn't been on the 11th floor, we might have used the stairs more. The red tile in the stairwell was original and the marble stairs were added in the 1920's remodel.
We did at least take the stairs to the second floor mezzanine, which had some nice seating and a good view of the lobby.
Looking over the mezzanine railing, we had a great view of the carved characters, which showed a little of Mr. Skirvin's humor.
The smiling faces at the top of the pillars, belonged to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. There was also a pair of "Okie-gargoyles" carved into the woodwork. One was supposed to be OK Governor "Alfalfa" Murray and the other is a mystery.
If I'd done my homework, I could have asked to be on the 10th floor for some extra excitement. Evidently, there are stories about Mr. Skirvin and some misbehaving with women and gambling on this floor.
Some even talk about ghosts that haunt the 10th floor. Stories tell how Effie, a housemaid was once locked in a room on the 10th floor, to avoid scandal. Supposedly she gave birth to Mr. Skirvin's child in that room and later jumped to her death with her baby. Some claim to have met up with her ghost. Luckily these stories are mostly legend and Don and I are more amused than creeped out!
The 11th floor seemed to be ghost free.
We did however have some nice framed art. I loved the vintage photo of the "milk bottle building" that I had photographed on our way driving towards the hotel.
My photos do not do the room justice.
It was a lovely corner room with more space and luxury than the photos show.
The bed was cushy with good lamps and end tables. That's pretty much all I need.
Tub and a Window
My bathroom pic looks a little lame, also. But there was decent space and I loved having light from the window. I also appreciated having a tub. However, I would have really appreciated having a complimentary box of special products, like the hotel offered in the past! Lavoris mouthwash and powder... creme rinse...!
Do people say creme rinse anymore? This little package was on display with old photos, near the lobby.
I love windows, especially with a corner room. One of our windows showed the nearby Bricktown area, with a Candy Factory.
The other window gave us a perfect view of the rounded structure with decorative designs on the top. But, then I noticed someone straight across, sitting on the window seat and that was creepy. I felt like I was in Hitchcock's Rear Window movie!
Seeing the rounded building made me curious about the rooms inside the structure.
Don and I took a ride to the top floor and had a look. What a lovely widow-filled space!
The Venetian Room
While on the top floor, we also took a peek at The Venetian Room, with its restored plaster ceilings. In the 1930's orchestras played here and vaudeville stars performed.
It's hard to imagine this elegant space once had wagon-wheel light fixtures, instead of chandeliers. It's even harder to imagine this space abandoned. The hotel sat dormant for nearly 20 years.
The Red Piano Bar
After exploring a while, Don and I set off for the piano bar in time for Happy Hour.
We sipped martinis, while a gentleman played old favorites on the shiny piano. I was equally entertained by the artwork above our heads.
Whimsical Ceiling Art
It would be totally easy to have missed the two painted ceiling panels above our heads.
A century ago, Mr. Skirvin shared more of his quirky humor when he chose this artwork for his hotel. I so adored the amusing characters that stared down at us from a painted mezzanine. Elephants and mermaids... trapeze artists and opera singers!
Doors to Dinner
The dining room wasn't open until 5, but that was okay. It gave us a better look at the elaborate door.
We could have sat near the window and played chess while we waited.
There was another cozy sitting area near the restaurant.
I loved the festive, martini drinking gang above the red couch!
We ended up skipping dinner at the hotel and taking advantage of the balmy evening and the Skirvin's good location.
It was an easy walk to Bricktown, where we wandered along the canal and stopped to sample some food and drink along the way.
Hotel at Night
When we returned, we walked across the plaza to catch a view of the lit up hotel. I'm not sure how Mr. Skirvin lit the hotel in 1911 when there were only 2 towers and 10 floors.
Maybe it had a big neon sign in the 1950's when Elvis or Dean Martin were guests. It looked pretty perfect on the last night in August, 2018.
We may have missed dinner at the hotel, but we made sure to have breakfast.
Coffee Shop/Park Avenue Grill
I doors were wide open in the morning and we headed into the area that had once been the snazzy new Coffee Shop in 1926.
I wish they still had the U-shaped bars and stools, but at least they kept the art deco tile work
They were serving a fabulous looking buffet, but we opted for omelet and oatmeal. My crazy huge bowl had smaller bowls of raisins, almonds and brown sugar. Our food was just right... along with a carafe of coffee!
I was pleasantly surprised by this hotel in so many ways. For being so large it still felt cozy.
For being so old, it felt and smelled fresh and new. Best of all the whimsical art and classy details from the past were preserved! And the price was the icing on the cake!
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!