Harvey House Hotel
There are very few Harvey House Hotels left, so Don and I were pretty excited to finally stay at one. This was a beauty and it was right along Route 66. It exceeded our expectations.
What's a Harvey House?
You can watch this movie and get a musical (and sort of silly) version of the history. Or Google Fred Harvey and learn about the man who began promoting tourism in the wild west in the late 1800's, with his hotels and restaurants along the Santa Fe Railway.
A year ago, I only had a vague idea of the Harvey Girls who wore starched, white aprons and efficiently served delicious meals to diners traveling by train. It was a chat with a fellow traveler in Colorado last summer, that got us interested in this Winslow hotel. His description put it high on our hotel list.
Two Cool Things
1- The Harvey Company hired a woman in 1930 to design La Posada! Mary Colter used the culture and history of the region to design the hotel, gardens and even furniture. Her work inspired the style known as Pueblo Deco.
2- This amazing building was rescued from destruction in 1997. It has been restored into a magical hotel/restaurant/museum and private residence by owners, Allen Affeldt and Tina Mion.
This hotel may not have a pool, spa and fitness room, but I'd rather enjoy the numerous sitting areas and pathways on the grounds.
There are cozy garden areas in the front, with bubbling fountains, flowers, sculptures and accents with stone and tile. In the back, there's a spacious lawn with Adirondack chairs and croquet... and for some reason, a maze with bales of hay. It's all very peaceful and relaxing... until the trains rumble by! I love the sound of trains.
We stayed in the James Cagney room. You can see the framed photo and write up near the door. All the rooms are named for celebrities of some kind, since many well known stars have stayed here in the past. Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and even Shirley Temple were guests long ago and have rooms named for them. I had to laugh when I saw one room named for The Double Mint Twins. I remember their gum commercials in the 1960's. I thought that was a little hotel humor (And you can spot quirky humor here and there in the hotel) but when I read the bio, I learned the twins were actually friends of the owners.
Our cozy corner room was beautifully decorated with woven rugs, baskets, tile and arches. Our bed was comfy and the handcrafted headboard seemed to be Navajo inspired.
Mirrors and Tile
Even the bath and dressing areas were filled with brightly colored tiles and furniture. The mirrors made the cozy space seem larger, but they also distracted a bit. I almost tripped a few times before remembering to step up, into the bathroom.
You could get lost wandering all the halls. There was so much to take in, it sort of boggled my brain. I should have just concentrated on floors because that would have been enough entertainment. So many kinds of floors! I loved the floortile pattern in this blanket-warmed hall.
So Many Rooms
This ballroom was my favorite. The curvy beams were covered with brightly painted designs. Curious, antiques were mixed with colorful modern wall art. Best of all there were cozy spots inviting guests to sit and stay a while!
Stay and Play
I wish we'd had more time! There were shelves of interesting books, with soft leather chairs and comfy rockers nearby. Spacious family tables and intimate tables for two, held board games, begging to be played. And how about this intriguing adult sized table with whimsical building shapes!
And More Rooms
This grand room was filled with more lounging areas. The walls were covered in bold and often humorous artwork, created by owner Tina Minon. During the evening a local musician filled the echoing space with the sound of his acoustic guitar. Again, I wish we'd had more time so we could have enjoyed the music... while moving giant chess pieces on one of the large game tables.
Front of Back?
The south side of the hotel looked out towards the railroad tracks. It was once the main entrance, since most travelers arrived by train. The walkway lead up to a set of rocking chairs, just perfect for watching the trains come and go.
Trains and a Sunset
Don and I watched the sunset and chatted with a couple from Iowa. You have to sort of wonder about the other guests who come to stay. Winslow isn't a big destination for most people and it's not exactly on the way to anywhere.
And what did we learn?
Almost every time we talk to other travelers we end up adding to our list of places to stop or explore. As it turns out, our Iowa friends were not really very interesting at all. They recommended a Motel 6 in Flagstaff. Who knows how they ended up at La Posada. But they were nice enough...and hey, they took our picture. Besides, our "Must Go There!" list is too long.
Sigh! I love sunsets and I love trains.
After sunset, we stopped in the Martini Lounge and had an interesting conversation with the Cameron...who made me a Turquoise Margarita which matched my shirt. Cameron not only grew up in Winslow, but remembered the old hotel from his childhood when his father was a conductor for Santa Fe Railroad. When Cameron was a child, the hotel was gutted and only a portion was in use, as offices for the railroad. He remembers getting in trouble for sneaking off to explore. He had hoped to become the 6th generation in his family to become a conductor for Santa Fe. But his dreams ended, when he found out he was colorblind.
Dinner in the Turquoise Room
This is the view we had from our round booth in the Turquoise Room. Not only could we sit back and enjoy the charm of the old dining room, but we could see the lights of passing trains through the windows. Our dinner was fabulous and I'll save those details for the dining blog.
Our Harvey Girl
I was mighty pleased that our server, Julie wore a black skirt and white apron. She even took time to pose with me, even though it was getting late and she had to get up early to teach her math students in the local high school the next day. For that reason, I didn't gripe about details, like "Where's your bow-tie?" or "Why is your apron white?" You see, back when La Posada first opened, Mary Colter insisted the white and black uniform was too severe. She insisted the Harvey Girls wear colorful desert themed aprons with cacti and sombreros and donkeys. La Posada Harvey Girls were very festive!
I'll remember this hotel as an oasis, far from the city and usual tourists. I wish we could have met the owners/hosts, because they must be a mighty interesting pair. Their respect for history and passion for art was so whimsically intermingled in every nook and cranny of the hotel! I loved the quiet, peaceful atmosphere, but I would love to visit during the busy season as well. I have no complaints, but only one suggestion. They should get someone to recreate those desert aprons and sell them in the gift shop. I'd buy one!
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!