This past August, Don and I booked a night at The Davenport. It was a good stopping point, on our trip between Bozeman and Portland.
I was excited to lay eyes on the 108-year-old hotel. It took up a whole downtown city block.
We circled the block looking for the entrance. I just love a fancy hotel entrance. I could have made a grand entrance... through a fancy entrance... but we could find no entrance.
Oddly, all the doors on the street were not in use. I'm not sure if that was a temporary issue.
The East Wing
The lobby entrance was actually hidden in a new structure, built in 2000.
The stucco and tile addition seemed out of place to me. At a glance, it looked like a modern chain hotel had been glued to an older brick building.
Louis Davenport & His Restaurant
Actually, the addition from 2000, looked very similar to the original Davenport Restaurant. The one-story restaurant (with ballroom above) once stood on the North-east corner of the block.
Louis Davenport is the name behind the hotel. Back in 1904, Mr. Davenport was more interested in food than hotels. That's when he had his Mission-style restaurant constructed. The towering brick hotel was added later. It opened in 1914.
Today's Mission-style structure holds no restaurant. It's mostly a large Porte Cochere/Parking Garage. We drove around the fountain and turned our car over for valet parking.
Even with the fountain feature, the entrance was more convenient than elegant. But it was easy and we found the lobby desk right through the doors.
It was a treat to step inside the chilled hotel. It was 101 degrees in Spokane that afternoon. I was impressed to learn that The Davenport was the first air-conditioned hotel in the USA. I was less impressed when I Googled and learned that many hotels claim to be first at offering that luxury.
As we checked in, I enjoyed the cool and admired the golden cherub on the front of the desk. There were lovely decorated key boxes with more cherubs and creatures. Griffins? Mr. Davenport looked pretty serious, gazing down from his portrait. Maybe his expression was just, seriously grateful. Grateful, that his hotel was rescued from demolition in the 1980's.
After checking in, we grabbed bags and headed for the elevator. Our modern keycard was needed to operate the fancy elevator, with its padded interior.
We reached the 8th floor and set off in search of our guest room. The hotel had 284 of them, plus 37 suites. Not all on the 8th floor, of course!
I wasn't expecting anything too grand, since we booked just about the cheapest. Actually $275. is a lot for these thrifty travelers.
The room was decent and traditional. The bed was super comfy and the shower was huge. We were happy.
View of The Terrace
I was delighted to pull open the drapes and enjoy a nice view of the Roof Garden Terrace. My photo shows the view in the shady morning, but at 4:30 pm the terrace was baking in the scorching sun.
I found that out when I dashed down a little later. The red umbrellas just didn't offer enough relief, but the area still looked inviting.
Examining the Building
Our window also gave us a good look at the upper part of the hotel's exterior. It looked surprisingly simple and basic.
If only I'd had binoculars I could have snooped on other guests, like Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window. Or I could have just examined guest room interiors. Maybe I could have spotted the most unusual guest room of them all... the Circus Room!
Famous Circus Room
Our room was perfectly fine, but if we return in the future, I'm going to book the Circus Room. For an extra 200 bucks, we could have slept in a 7th floor room, filled with circus murals and balloon lights. Here it is in the 1930's.
Louis Davenport created this room in honor of his friend, Harper Joy. The man with the happy name, was so fond of circuses that he often ran away with them. The circus-themed room was not just used for children's parties, but was used for adult gatherings. Now it's a spacious guest room!
Exploring the Lobby
I left Don relaxing in the room for a while and headed down to check out the decadent first floor.
So many old hotel lobbies are dim and depressing. The Davenport's Spanish Renaissance-style lobby had some nice sunlight pouring through the art glass ceiling panels.
The light also illuminated the decorated, faux wood beams. The designs were originally painted, but the colors were completely hidden for years.
During hotel renovations in 2000, the beams were carefully cleaned. Years of cigar, cigarette and fireplace smoke was removed and the colors were revealed.
I dashed around the lobby snapping a few pics and came upon some interesting doors.
I was intrigued with all the designs. The golden gate/door seemed to be guarding some kind of locked boxes. ? Who knows what was behind the wooden doors with crests. They were locked.
The golden staircase was as much fun as the golden elevator.
I loved the little cherubs on the railing. They had wings like the figures on the lobby desk. So many cherub/angels in The Davenport!
I found more glass ceiling panels on the Mezzanine level.
There was a much better view of the cast plaster beams on the upper level. The burgundy, gold and teal colors were more vivid. Evidently there are surprises hidden all over the hotel if you have time. I learned about some special words later, or I would have hunted for them. The words, "Will You Marry Me" are written somewhere, in the faux wood grain.
View From Above
The view over the railing could have been fun for a little people watching activity. But there were few people to watch. I studied the seating options instead.
I could see dining tables and a glowing fireplace at the far end. Below me, I spotted lots of cozy couches and chairs and a musician, seated near the piano.
The man was playing guitar, not piano. He created a pleasant sound, that filled the space, without intruding.
The Mezzanine level had a great display of historic hotel photos, like this one! I loved imagining the lobby over a century ago, when it was filled with kids and adults, surrounding a tall Maypole! That would have been some very lively entertainment!
So Much the Same
I compared the old photo to today's lobby.
I wonder if those tall, swirling light posts were golden, back when the (black and white) Maypole photo was taken.
The incredibly ornate hanging fixtures, looked just as they did in the early photo.
The original sconces, still glow from the walls. Again, how lucky that this hotel was rescued from demolition. An apparently wealthy couple, (Mr. & Ms. Worthy) bought the entire block in 2000. It took 2 years and 38-million bucks to reopen the closed hotel.
Enjoying the Lobby
By 5:30, Don and I were ready to let the evening begin! We spent some time hanging out in the lobby, sitting in large comfy chairs. And by the way, is that a shark or a catfish in the fountain?
The lobby was pretty quiet on a Thursday evening, which made it seem like guitarist Steven King was playing just for us. He filled the open space with calming tunes. All appealing, from the Beatles to Gershwin. (Amazing "Fingerstyle" skills!) We kept him going with clapping and tips and compliments on his music and his bolo tie. Elenor Rigby was my favorite.
"Meet me at the Fireplace"
The Davenport is known for its fireplace, which is lit 24/7, during every month. "Meet me at the fireplace." is a sentence associated with this hotel. Don and I actually ended up meeting someone at the fireplace. We headed over at one point to have a look at the fire (now gas) and the painting above.
A man was dining alone nearby. He looked to be nearly as old as the hotel, but he appeared content and he laughed when I told him I needed the fire's warmth. I added, "This air-conditioning works too well." He pointed out his sweater vest and agreed. He seemed delighted that we were enjoying the hotel that he so adored. He was visiting Spokane for a few nights and enjoying long ago memories, of when he and his wife had their rehearsal dinner at the hotel. It had been 20 years since she'd passed, so not his first visit without her. What a positive man and what a lovely encounter, at the Fireplace.
Food & Drink
The hotel's Palm Court Grill was only serving in the lobby that night. Don and I weren't up for a formal dinner, so we headed into the Peacock Room, to check out drink and dinner options.
It was early, so we just had a martini and enjoyed the comfortable lounge.
I look like I'm on my third, in this photo. I promise I only had one.
We enjoyed some people watching and decided to return after 9, for the Late Night Menu.
I failed to get a decent photo of the colorful stained glass above the bar. The peacock design was made of 5,000 pieces of stained glass. There were also two stuffed peacocks perched beside the TV, enjoying the baseball.
When Don and I returned after 9, we sat near the peacocks at the bar. We should have ordered Crab Louie, because we were told the famous dish was first created at The Davenport. My internet search was similar to the history of hotel air conditioning. Many restaurants claim to have created it. But there's decent proof of the Davenport's connection to the recipe! No crab for us, but Don and I enjoyed a light dinner, along with some surprise samples of Peanut Brittle Martini, from the generous bartender! Quite amazing!
Time to Explore Ballrooms!
A good part of our evening was spent exploring... after our early martini happy hour.
There are numerous ballrooms at the hotel and they all seemed to welcome us with open doors!
Talk about a grand entrance! There were golden gates and dramatic curtains, leading to the room named for Queen Isabella of Spain.
This elegant space had once been the hotel's main dining room.
Don and I had some fun with the mirrored walls. The accent frames were gilded with 22K gold leaf.
I did a proper curtsy in front of Queen Isabella's portrait. But now I realize my back was to her. I think I broke a rule there!
The Hall of Doges
This photo shows the ballroom, that was inspired by the famous palace in Venice. This ballroom was constructed above Davenport's Restaurant in 1904.
When the hotel was refurbished in 2000, the whole ballroom was lifted by crane and the old restaurant was removed. Once the new east wing was constructed, the crane carefully moved the ballroom to its new spot.
This photo makes it easier to see how a ballroom could be lifted and moved to a parking lot for a while.
It looks like a room, within a room. A stage set! But I love it!
We had a wonderful time wandering through, admiring the Gothic arches and sparkling chandeliers.
I wasn't surprised to see more cherub/angels looking down from the fresco ceiling. This lovely pastel ballroom cost $30,000 in 1904!
Grand Pennington Ballroom
Just steps from the Hall of Doges, we peeked into a much larger and newer ballroom.
This gigantic (Imperial Russian-style) room seemed almost ridiculously large. I did some pondering. Who has enough money to rent this space? Who has enough friends to fill it? Then I thought about getting on that empty stage for a moment. I've been known to make use of an empty one. Then I thought about security cameras... We moved on.
Marie Antoinette Ballroom
This ballroom was Mrs. Davenport's favorite. There were too many tables for us to try out some dance moves. But this room held a floating dance floor, suspended on cables! What fun!
The ceiling color was supposed to remind guests of the sky at dusk, or dawn. The $10,000 chandeliers were supposed to glimmer like heavenly stars. I like picturing and the sparkling jewels and dresses on that dance floor in the 1920's.
Model T Display
I wish I could have seen the Marie Antoinette room nearly a century ago, when they displayed this 1928 Ford!
What a complicated and entertaining task, getting this Model T in and out. Why don't they do over the top things like this anymore?
The next morning, I went outside and looked at the windows, wondering which one had once opened itself up, for a car to pass through.
I couldn't figure that out, but I noticed some wonderful ram heads! The lower part of the building is much more ornate than the upper brick.
Time for Elizabeth!
The very last room we visited was my favorite. It was named after me, of course. This English Tudor-style room was Mr. Davenport's favorite.
The ballroom was the first in the world to use folding panel doors, so the space could be divided.
Posing with Food
I was happy to do a little pose next to the beautiful wood panels. I surprised to read, that this lovely wood was covered in gold-flocked wallpaper, in the 1970's. Ugh!
In the old photo you can see a chef standing beside an elaborate display of food. I wish I could have had a feast in the Elizabethan Room. I guess I could have, if I'd opened my bag from the gift shop. Davenport's Signature Soft Peanut Brittle!
Time for Don!
Eventually we traveled down to the basement so Don could see the pool. He loves a hotel pool and we could have had this one to ourselves.
Don didn't have a suit, so I invited him to do some posing with the modest lady painted on the wall. Then Don discovered a CVS vending machine that totally cracked us up. We couldn't buy candy bars, but we could purchase Covid tests or condoms. What a hoot.
By the time the moon was up, it felt safe to step out on the terrace.
We enjoyed the colorful smokestacks and Beatles mural, but the air still felt heavy. We only stayed out a while.
After our bar dinner we headed back to our room, wondering about all the people who have visited the hotel over the years.
Bing Crosby has the most history with the hotel, but there's a huge list of past celebrity guests. If I could go back in time and dine or dance with one guest, who would it be? Elvis, Teddy Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Clark Gable, Babe Ruth, Lawrence Welk or John Phillips Sousa? Not telling.
We slept well and left Spokane in good spirits. This is a hotel we would recommend. The staff was welcoming and building itself was welcoming.
I love a hotel that allows me to explore. With the exception of about 2 locked doors, we were free to roam. There were plaques and historic photos to help guide us. We really needed one more night, to enjoy a dinner by the fireplace and maybe a drink on the terrace. We'll do that on our next visit... when we stay in the Circus Room!
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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!