Victor, Colorado 2022
We arrived in Victor, on a sunny day last June.
It was the 15th day of our New Mexico/Colorado road trip. I was sort of grumpy when we arrived at the Victor Hotel.
I took this photo from the car in 2019. It was at the beginning of a road trip and I was not grumpy. The cute gold mining town with a few dirt roads, looked inviting.
It seemed odd to have such a large hotel in such a tiny town. But when The Victor was built in 1889, there were 18,000 people living in the area. It seemed like this hotel might offer up a Notable Night experience in the future. It went on the list.
We put the Victorian Victor on the itinerary for this past June.
It was around 4:00, when we arrived on a Thursday afternoon. There were more cars on the street than I expected. We learned that the community was gearing up for the annual Gem & Minerals Festival.
Lots and Lots of Messages
We parked and headed towards the corner entrance. The windows distracted me with lots of messages, taped to the glass.
Some notices were curious. "Oddities Alley" ?? The sign on the brick amused me. "WATCH OUT FOR FALLING ICE/SNOW". One repeated message was a bit worrisome. "House Keepers wanted!!!" All those exclamation points were alarming.
As we approached the front door, I took my eyes off all reading material and admired the brickwork. It was easy to miss the historic charm of the building with all that window clutter.
Then I went for the door, but it was locked. I realized we might find some assistance from one of those window signs. On one of the paper notices, I found check-in instructions, for arriving guests. After some fumbling with my cell phone, I finally got the needed info.
In the Lobby
I punched the proper numbers into the keypad and we found ourselves inside. The quiet lobby wasn't exactly welcoming. A fat beam of sun was spotlighting the exposed foam cushion, on one couch.
I've adjusted to the world of self-check-in. I don't expect to be greeted by friendly staff at each hotel. But there was an odd feel to this place. And an odd arrangement of furniture.
Bank Block Building
We looked around a bit and found a couple interesting things in the lobby space. The bank vault in the corner looked like something from an old horror movie.
The vault was a reminder that this building was originally called "The Bank Block Building". It housed the Victor Hotel & Restaurant and other businesses over the years... a photography studio, jewelry story, soda fountain and grocery store,
Piano and Bar
By the side entrance, there was an old piano and a view of the restaurant and bar, above.
For a period of time, The Victor became a rooming house for miners. The piano didn't exactly look like an old ragtime piano. But it was fun to imagine miners hanging out in the hotel's saloon back in the day.
The New Victor
Above the piano there were some historic photos, that helped me imagine Victor, back in the day. The vintage image of the hotel looked much like today, except for awnings and telephone poles and a horse and buggy heading down the unpaved street.
Back when this photo was taken, the hotel was called, The New Victor. The original (built 1894) was destroyed in the big 5-hour fire of 1899. The hotel and business district was rebuilt quickly and now most buildings have the year 1899, written on them.
It was clear from more signs (propped up on the lobby counter) that no one was around to answer our questions.
"...If you need anything, text me. The Management"
It was tempting to text my most nagging question, "What's with the very odd furniture arrangement?" Why in this large lobby, did I see a couch and 10 chairs awkwardly gathered near the office counter? An intimate book club gathering? A bible study? An AA meeting? I noticed the 2 speakers and thought of live music... but for a crowd of 12? Or maybe a puppet show in that window?
Then came the really important question. "If we get trapped in the old elevator, how long will we have to wait to be saved?"
Since my cellphone hardly worked in the lobby, I had a good feeling my cell wouldn't be useful inside the birdcage!
Don offered to stay put and let me test it out. He promised to get help if I got trapped. Haha. But honestly we were both excited about the vintage elevator. Oldest working one in Colorado, I believe.
I've been in elevators like this before, but they've all required staff to run them. I was amazed that we were allowed to operate this ancient thing. It made a lot of clanking noise, but seemed to work well.
We could have been more cautious and used the stairs, the rest of the time. But we were on the 4th floor and the 9,708 foot elevation was tough on us old geezers from Texas.
It was comforting to know we could race down the stairs or fire escape, if there was a replay of the 1899 fire!
I was happy to be on the 4th floor, for views and quiet. Nice to have no squeaking floors above us. However the 4th floor might have been the noisiest floor... according to some guest comments on the internet, about ghost behavior.
Evidently, the top story operated as a hospital in the early 1900's. Not only did sick people travel up the birdcage elevator, but deceased folks as well. The 4th floor was also a morgue and sort of a holding cell for the bodies. Burial was impossible during the many months of harsh winter. What a thought!
Our Corner Room
Our door code worked and we stepped into our spacious room. My eyes were drawn to the light. The arched windows were impressive! The bed making job wasn't so impressive. I cringed to think about the House Keeper notices.
But that was my grumpy self reacting. The room looked clean and there were fun little accents like the golden radiator! I worried less about the sloppy bedspread when I pictured an overworked housekeeper rushing to make our bed. I stopped to sympathize and to appreciate our room price. Around $100. for this big room.
Headers and Stretchers!
When we entered the room, the windows were open and a table fan was humming away. I love open windows and I love fans with a good sound. I also love interesting artwork above the bed. I'm not being sarcastic.
I was totally entertained by the comical jumble of brick and mortar. Especially after observing the meticulous exterior brickwork. Were these bricks once covered with plaster? If the wall was exposed with renovation, I'm glad they did the work. I was so intrigued that I studied up on bricks, when we eventually found cell service. Those headers and stretchers created some unique patterns! I love new terms!
Tub and Sink
I'm guessing when miners inhabited this building, they had shared bathrooms and probably few tubs for all those hardworking (and very dirty) men. I'm not sure when our tiny bathroom was added, but I tried to be grateful for the tub.
There was no room for a sink in the bathroom, but we had a very old school sink in the room. Not much room for ditty bags.
I loved the view. The late afternoon light was pretty on the distant mountains. Morning was lovely as well.
The windows allowed me to keep an eye on Victor Avenue, below. The town was gearing up for the festival and I could spot road block materials. We ended up moving our car, although I doubt they do any car-towing in Victor.
Sitting a Spell
While I pondered parking, Don checked out our sitting options.
The nearby wardrobe was actually pretty handy, with its hidden TV, microwave, fridge and coffeemaker. That was helpful, since we were uncertain about dining options in the small town. We at least new there was a small general store with food.
The Victorian chairs nicely fit the hotel's history. But after a few minutes, Don realized the chairs did not fit his needs.
Don's become pickier about chairs, in past months. Victorian furniture does not help with healing a fractured back. Even I was groaning a bit, when I sat and felt a metal piece poking up from the cushion. So I made a sneaky swap with some hall furniture.
Food & Drink?
I attempted a search on my phone for restaurants, but cell and internet coverage was too weak. I grumbled, then headed out on foot.
It was actually wonderful wandering down Victor Ave, with all the tidy 1889 buildings lined up. I made some fun discoveries, but no open restaurants. I wondered where the 400 Victor residents dined. The saloon next door seemed to have good portion of residents, on their patio. But they were smoking and drinking, not eating.
Side Door Cafe at The Victor
I took a peek into our hotel's restaurant. Luckily it was open and looked sort of cute inside.
The Side Door also had patio seating. The red chairs filled up a little later, with a smoking crowd. Seemed to be a lot of smoking in Victor.
The Bar Loft
Around 6, Don and I decided have a drink and grab some food-to-go, downstairs. We got a seat at the bar, overlooking the lobby. Our bartender Lisa was pleasant to us, but she mumbled and fussed a lot with the locals. I ordered a glass of wine and Don made the mistake of asking for an "Old Fashioned". Lisa didn't know what that was and Don wised up and ordered a beer.
We chatted with a local woman who was concerned about crime in Victor. She said someone had bent the handicapped sign near her apartment and a cat was hit and killed on 4th street. She'd had enough and she was moving to Cripple Creek. Other locals insisted that wasn't a good reason to move...
After a while Don and I asked to order some food to go. Lisa said the cook didn't like doing carryouts, but we were welcome to take the plates to our room. That worked for us.
Elevator at Night
By 9 pm, Don and I had eased into our quirky hotel. Our grumpy moods had lifted with a little TV and a decent burger. I just chuckled and skipped the soupy, cheese-less artichoke dip. It felt like we were back to our flexible traveler-selves. I told Don I'd take the dirty dishes down to the bar.
I rode the elevator down at night, without any disturbances. The ghost of Eddy the Miner, did not appear. Eddy was a miner who lived in Room 301. He fell to his death about 100 years ago, after stepping through the opened elevator door. For some reason the elevator hadn't arrived. So many eerie stories!
Question for the Bartender
Lisa seemed to be in good spirits when I found her cleaning the bar before closing up. She acted surprised and grateful that I'd bothered to bring the dishes down.
I headed down the steps to the elevator and Lisa looked over the half wall, to thank me again. I waved goodnight, then paused and pointed to the chairs, "What's with those chairs?" I asked. Lisa looked at the seating arrangement and seemed to search for the right words. "Oh! There's gonna be an event on Saturday. There's gonna be a show with... what do you call it? You know, crossdressers." Hmmm? I wondered while she tried to jog her brain. "Oh, yeah! Drag show! That's what it is. They're gonna have a drag show at the Oddities Event!"
So I headed up in the elevator feeling totally amused and confused and then I remembered the poster I'd seen in the window. I got my answer, but I still couldn't figure out the seating. A "drag show" for an audience of 12?
Don and I both woke long before 6 am, with light coming through the huge windows. Neither of us minded. It was wonderful to get out early and roam around town.
During our 20 hour visit to Victor, we ended up meeting some nice locals and travelers during our little exploration.
One of our favorite encounters was in the morning, chatting over coffee with a traveling couple, in the bakery. They invited us to come see their hotel, a block away.
It was hard to tell which of us had picked the stranger hotel. They were staying in the Jack the Ripper Room at the Black Monarch.
So our stay at The Victor led us to a fun encounter and now we have one more hotel to add to our list!
Back to Check Out
After lots of wandering, we checked the time and hurried back to the hotel. The door was propped open, so we walked right in and found a lobby full of chairs.
Don and I raced up to get our bags. I did a quick job swapping the chairs back and we headed down the birdcage on last time.
Good Bye Odd Lobby
The lobby had such a different feel with morning light and people... and chairs. Don checked out at the little window with an actual living person.
Violet was the mystery host. Suddenly she was a human, not a texting number. She said she was so excited about all the weekend festivities. She was going depart soon and get into her period costume and enjoy the festival! For a moment I actually wished we could have just one more night. It would definitely be a Notable Night on Saturday at The Victor!
We stayed in a 133-year-old hotel, in a town of 400, during the third summer of the Covid Pandemic, on the 15th day of our road trip. I should have kept my expectations a little lower. I was sort of grumpy.
The town and hotel both need a little boost, but I'm so glad we came and experienced and gave some business. We arrived grumpy but left happy. Who knows, maybe we'll return!
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!