Storybook Hotel in a Storybook Village
Don and I take turns finding hotels, when planning our road trips. I wasn't thrilled when he said, "I booked the Victorian Inn, in Ferndale." Ferndale sounded like some hick town in a sitcom.
The Victorian Inn, didn't sound like a very creative name. I figured this would be yet another cutesy B & B, with lace and red velvet and lots of the owner's favorite knick knacks.Then I looked on the website and saw the immaculate two-story hotel, with all its trim.
On Main Street Since 1890
It was hard to believe the hotel was nearly 130 years old. It almost looked like something created for Disney World's Main Street.
The solid structure, known as the Russ Building, originally housed the Ferndale Bank on the first floor. The second floor held single rooms, suites, water closets and fireplaces. The Stick Style Eastlake Victorian, was built of Redwood on a brick foundation.
Decorated Bay Windows
The elaborate Italianate detail surrounding the windows, was stunning.
The hexagonal window was the most impressive. I found a photo from 1891, that showed a tower, extending up from that corner window. No cone shape above the window now, but still amazing!
Finding the Door
The double doors on the corner had a sign that sent us to a side entrance.
We followed the iron, hitching post horses and found a door leading to an entry, between lobby and restaurant.
In the entry, we found a friendly statue of a champion mule, named Loretta Jones. Loretta evidently once belonged to the current owner. I kind of liked her, with her festive leaf necklace. I greeted her every time we passed.
We found the check-in desk in the back of Silva's Jewelry Store. That seemed odd at first, since it seemed like a grand hotel, should have a grand lobby.
But it made more sense when I remembered this area had been a bank before it was a hotel. It made even more sense when I learned that the current owners were gemologists long before they were hotel owners. They fell in love with the old hotel years ago and made Ferndale their new home.
We checked in and carried our bags past my horse friend and up a stairway. The second story held about 15 rooms.
A skylight brightened the dramatic landing with all its dark woodowork.
I'm not sure what was behind the double doors at the end of the hall.
Maybe it was the fancy corner suite, with the fabulous bay window.
Room #210 - The Olivia
Our room actually had 2 doors. The first was near the cuckoo clock. It had some elaborate woodwork around the transom, but no number and no door knob.
The next door was the entrance to our guest room... which had once been 2 rooms. When the second story was renovated, rooms were all expanded. Now, every other door opens to a room.
I had already peeked on the website to see our room, but I was still pleasantly surprised.
The room was much larger and fresher and comfier than I expected.
I'm all for authentic furniture, but it's a treat to have a luxurious king bed, instead of an antique standard. The red velvet couch was much more comfortable than it looked. The 14 foot ceilings removed any gloom, that an old hotel might offer.
Books or TV?
I had to laugh at the tiny TV on the cabinet across from the bed. I think they should have hidden that little modern reminder, inside the cabinet.
As always, I was delighted that we had two bedside tables with lamps. That's common in chain hotels, but not expected in historic ones. I'd rather read a book than watch a tiny TV. The hotel was very quiet, so I appreciated the floor fan, which had a nice hum for sleeping.
Two Bathroom Pics
I always keep bathroom expectations low in old hotels. But, we had a decent sized bathroom with a window that went practically from floor to ceiling.
I liked the bathroom so much I had to take 2 photos. I especially liked the little pair of marble top tables... for our own stuff. It was nice having a tub and ample fluffy towels. If we'd needed a flashlight, there was one attached to the nightlight. If we'd needed a plunger (yikes) there was one nicely hidden inside a cloth bag, tied with a ribbon. Classy! No sarcasm there.
I do love windows and we had a few. It was nice having a view of the pretty town and sky, in the evening and morning.
Best of all, the window let me study the intricate trim up close. Were those Christmas lights, outlining the building? I should have stepped out after dark to have a peek.
It was dark soon after we checked in. There might have been some dining options in the small town, but we checked out the hotel's cozy tavern.
We sat at the old leather-top bar and took in the festive fall decor on the back bar. I was happy to see no fake cobwebs. We've stayed at too many old hotels in October and I get tired of that.
Don and I celebrated with a Martini and Cosmo, made by our bartender named Brandy. We figured she gets enough comments about her perfect bartender name, so we talked about other things.
I spotted a nearby couple drinking coffee and decided they must be the owners. The place wasn't busy, so I headed over to the table beneath the beautiful ships and inquired. I was right, and Lowell said I made his day, when I raved about the hotel.
We watched a few people come and go through the doorway to the Dining Room. "VI" was the name of the restaurant. It took me a while to realize those weren't Roman numerals, but initials.
There was a cozy area around a fireplace and a large space filled with dining tables. But we decided to stay put in the tavern.
Baby Spinach and Sliders
Our meal was just right. My salad had squash, strawberries, walnuts, raspberry vinaigrette and Humboldt Fog cheese. Brandy had to explain that Humboldt was the county we were in... which gets a lot of ocean fog.
Don had pulled pork sliders. He happens to love pickles, so he was extra impressed. I loved the green apple coleslaw.
Before bed, we helped ourselves to coffee in the second floor sitting area. Decaf options meant I slept well in our luxurious bed, with humming fan.
In the morning, we got up early and walked around the charming town... or should I call it a village? There are over 200 Victorian buildings and a cemetery that climbs up a steep hill, on the edge of town. It was the perfect morning walk.
Breakfast was included with our stay, so took a window seat in the VI Restaurant. What huge windows!
Our eggs, bacon and potatoes were served by a sweet young "Texan" named Katie. We were delighted to share some Texas stories, mostly about her hometown of Bastrop. She had gone to school with our favorite young, talented blues musicians, The Peterson Brothers. Oh how I love surprise conversations when we're traveling. I wish she could have pulled up a chair.
Our stay at The Victorian was a package deal. I feel like we experienced the hotel and town, all together. The combination was just lovely, but it was it too perfect? I wondered, "What's the catch?"
During our morning walk, I kept an eye out for flaws. However, I didn't spot any tacky t-shirt shops or glitzy, ritzy, overpriced gift shops. I saw locals greeting one another on the sidewalk. I saw a resident or two in their yards. I even saw the pharmacist from Rexall Drugs, strolling down the walk with a mug of coffee in one hand and a dog leash in the other. He said "Good Morning!" with a big smile.
Okay, this hotel and town made me happy. I think we need to move!
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!