Sweet Hotel in a Tiny Town
In October, Don and I spent one night in a cozy historic hotel, that was once called the Temperance House. The hotel was built in 1878, when the Mendocino area was a booming, logging community.
I read there were 20,000 people living in the area. Hard to believe!I imagine the town had plenty of saloons and hotels back in the day. Our sweet 2-story hotel overlooking the Pacific, was probably the only one that didn't smell like liquor.
141 Years Later
When we pulled into town last month, the sweet yellow structure looked like a building from an old Western movie set... except for those cars.
Today Mendocino has only about 900 residents, but tourism keeps things busy. Since it was October, we were able to pull up right in front. I think it's a different story in the summer, when there are more tourists than parking spaces.
Fifties to the Seventies
By mid-century, the dying lumber industry caused the town to shrink. Loggers were replaced by artists... at least that's what I heard. The "hippie migration" of the early seventies brought a whole new kind of living to the area. Hollywood also came to Mendocino, to shoot movies, like "Summer of 42".
We didn't spot any communes around Mendocino, but there were evidently many, back in that time. I need ask my sister. I can still remember her talking about this small town, when she visited in 1976. Jennifer didn't say anything about the old hotel, but it was nearly a century old by the time she visited the town.
It was fairly quiet in the parlor when we arrived around 4. We stepped inside to see some of the renovations that took place in 1975 when the rundown property was purchased, by R.O. Peterson.
I glanced up at the stained glass above us as we headed towards the desk. I'm guessing that was added in the seventies. I wish I could have found some before and after photos.
Don got us checked us in, through the window of the lovely Victorian lobby desk. The staff was friendly and not nearly as formal as the decor surrounding us.
I peeked in the bar, knowing it would be crowded later. I liked the little gremlin holding up the back bar. Obvious there was nothing original here, since The Temperance House served no liquor.
The polished steel fireplace was my favorite. It wasn't original to the hotel, but I believe it was over 200 years old.
A storm was predicted, so Don and I grabbed two chairs right in front of the fire. I was hoping for some real weather drama, but we only had a light rain.
The restaurant was all prepared and ready for guests at 5. It was Friday, so we expected some crowds.
We were warned by a head waiter (or someone who seemed to be in charge) to arrive before 8 if we wanted to be served. He explained that October was not their busy season, so they close when there's no business. We kept that warning in mind.
Tables by the Window
We decided to go for the less formal dining tables, in the parlor.
We grabbed a table by a window, although it was dark by then. My clam chowder was yummy and huge. Don's crab cakes were good, but tiny.
The hotel website was a little confusing, since they described rooms in the original hotel and luxury Garden Suites in a different area.
We of course chose the oldest part of the hotel and yes, it did feel old! Our room #9 was in the back, at the end of a long and narrow hall. The warped floor was covered in worn carpet and creaked a bit on our journey.
I'm pretty sure we had the smallest room in the hotel. The flowered bed spread was faded and the satiny shams and dust ruffle had tear or two. But we did have a bathroom, behind two grand doors! (Some of the rooms had shared baths in the hall)
Beside our tall window, sat the only chair in the room. I tried to sit once and the thing scared me with its sway. I let it hold my sweater instead.
The window looked out to the back of the property. I was sorry that it had been painted closed. But luckily the weather was decent and our room wasn't too stuffy. I think heating and cooling issues are common.
We could access the back porch through a door in the hall. Somewhere back in all the garden growth, was the additional guest housing. Since rain was starting up, we didn't make good use of the garden.
I wondered about the wooden water towers that were scattered all over the small town. There's history to these towers, I'm sure.
From the rear, we could see the hotel's large tower and the curious shape of the old building.
The Front Balcony
I was a little jealous of the rooms that looked out on the front balcony.
However there was access to the balcony for all guests. Maybe I wouldn't have wanted a room, with guests sitting right outside my window.
Checking it Out
Don and I always make good use of hotel porches and verandas.
We had hoped to have a glass of wine in the evening, on this one.
But the evening rain prevented that. Instead, we took our coffee out to the porch in the morning.
What an amazing view!
Our very favorite hotel memories include stays where we enjoyed the hotel AND its surroundings. In the morning, Don and I made good use of the area around our hotel!
It's easy to see why movies have been filmed here! How is it possible that we simply walked out the hotel door and saw all this, on a morning stroll?
This hotel stay was not about the hotel room. Our hotel stay was also not about the people we met. Surprisingly, we really hardly spoke to anyone in, or near this hotel!
Our memory of this hotel will be about the cozy fireplace in the parlor and the view from the upper porch AND the peaceful walk the next morning. Good memory for $143!
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!