Open at Last!
After years of waiting, the Hotel Castaneda finally opened! Don and I had a chance to stay this past June, before the renovation was complete!
We learned about this historic hotel 6 years ago, when staying at La Posada, in Winslow, AZ. Both Posada & Castaneda were old Harvey House hotels, rescued by a couple, with incredible vision, talent... and money.
The Plaza, in Las Vegas 2017
Two years ago, Don and I stayed for the first time in Las Vegas, NM. On that visit, we enjoyed yet another hotel that had been renovated by the same couple, Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion.
The Victorian beauty was located in the heart of the old city, across from historic Plaza Park. We were excited to check on progress of the third hotel renovation.
Castaneda in 2017
We hopped in the car and drove a mile to the once busy Railroad District, to peek at the next project. I took this photo. It looked like renovation had not begun.
The once grand, hotel was overdue for a redo. It had been sitting mostly vacant, for 70 years! How could this "Little Las Vegas" town possibly support two hotel projects? Would this ever really get renovated?
Casteneda in 2019
Two years later we found out! We arrived on a June afternoon, a couple weeks after the hotel opened. We felt pretty lucky to have booked one of the few finished rooms. The 121-year-old Mission Revival style building looked a lot more welcoming!
There wasn't a chainlink fence this time. A ramp and new windows had been added. The arched lettering looked the same. I was glad.
The lobby was open and bright and the staff was welcoming.
Fresh paint and polished wood, made the sitting areas inviting.
I especially liked the cluster of Mission style chairs, near the tall bookcase. I should have spent a little more time in that corner.
Our Host, Sean
We recognized Sean, in his vintage vest and bowtie. He had been our host 2 years ago at the Plaza Hotel.
He'd been helpful answering questions then and he was equally knowledgable about the Castaneda.
Renovation of the old ballroom was still underway. Sean gave us a fun tour of the large space.
He was full of information and enthusiasm, showing us the old steam table that will be used again, when the restaurant opens.
The freshly painted walls, white woodwork, molded ceiling and fixtures, were pretty much ready. The original Terrazzo floors, just needed a quick shine!
After getting our key, we headed up to the second floor guest rooms.
I of course had to pause for the view.
I headed on up, wondering about all the guests who have once stayed.
Sleeping at a Harvey House Hotel
Fred Harvey's hospitality empire included restaurants, hotels, gift shops and touring cars. Castaneda was Harvey's first trackside hotel.
In 1898, there were 40 guest rooms on the second floor of the hotel.
Did Teddy Sleep Here?
Theodore Roosevelt is Castaneda's most famous guest. He held his first Rough Riders Reunion here.
It was too peaceful on the second floor landing, to imagine those rough and rowdy guests! But maybe they just celebrated here. I also heard they stayed at The Plaza Hotel. History is confusing.
Today guests have twice as much space in their guest rooms, than when those first train traveling guests stayed. During this past year, each room was enlarged and bathrooms were added.
Eventually all the glass transoms will have painted animal designs. We didn't stay in the "Owl Room", but I loved the colorful, stained glass look.
Room 204... The Squirrel Room
Owner and artist, Tina Mion had not yet painted a squirrel on our transom, but our room had other painted accents.
The queen headboards were painted black, with southwestern designs.
The bedside lamps were equally impressive. They looked like they probably served some kind of beverage at one time!
I loved having windows, that we could actually open up, to let in the fresh air.
We had a view of the old station and the train tracks behind.
Luckily the trains weren't frequent enough to bother us.
There was lots of space, for the large antique pieces.
The vanity in the room wasn't exactly an antique, but it was pretty handy.
We were happy to have an attached bathroom, since guests once shared baths, down the hall.
The shower setup was interesting, behind sort of a partition. We evidently got the accessible room, which made the bathroom nearly too large. Not exactly something to complain about!
Unfortunately, the hotel's restaurant was under construction.
But, the Castaneda Bar was open for the evening.
The mural above the bar, was one of the surprises that came with restoration. Evidently, no one knew the mural was hiding under layers of plaster, until work began.
We were told that this room with the mural, had once been a dive bar, called Nasty Casty, owned by a woman who lived upstairs. The roof was so worn that the snow used to come through the ceiling. There's a chilly thought.
Don and I took a seat at the bar, which had once been the dining counter.
There were no more Harvey Girl servers in black and white uniforms, but our bartender, Andrew, was much more entertaining. His double handed martini shaking skills were amazing.
Besides shaking, Andrew also had a talent for making beautiful drinks that tasted quite good!
Chatting with Locals and Travelers
Sometimes when traveling, we hit the jackpot for people encounters. We couldn't have asked for nicer people, that evening. A middle-aged, cowboy-hat-wearing man from Gallup, sat next to Don. He and his wife were delightful. They were headed to Grinnell, Iowa, for a Quaker Conference. That was a fun connection, since I grew up in Grinnell.
Next to me was Jose, a friendly local, who talked about growing up in Las Vegas and selling newspapers and shining shoes, at the train station next door. I loved hearing his stories about being an extra in movies, that were filmed in Las Vegas. I need to watch Crazy Heart again and look for him!
Luckily, Castaneda had food truck dining options.
We were able to get a delicious chicken sandwich and onion rings, served to us on the porch... which was a little more crowded at night, than in the morning, when I took this photo.
We slept well in our hotel, by the tracks. If there were trains, I didn't hear them.
The old Railroad Avenue Historic District was also quiet. Things might be different in years ahead, if the hotel triggers more renovation. This could become a hopping area!
Morning was quiet, warm and sunny.
It was such a treat to be one of the few guests and step out to enjoy the early morning light on the porch.
View From the Tracks
Don and I were able to walk out by the tracks to get a view of the whole building. The hotel actually faces the tracks, not the street.
This is the view, that Santa Fe Railway passengers had when they arrived, way over 100 years ago. Fred Harvey had already opened lunch counters and services to rail passengers. Now travelers could come in and have a meal and stay a night or two.
1898 - 1948
In 1898, this Mission style hotel set the trend for other hotels and buildings in the Southwest. What a grand place it was... for only 50 years.
I love a road trip, but it's a shame that auto travel took the focus away from train travel and railroad districts. Castaneda was forced to close in 1948.
From our side of the u-shaped veranda, I peeked across the courtyard at the work, still in progress.
I am so thrilled that we didn't have to wait until all work was complete, to stay at the hotel.
I liked seeing the wheelbarrows, stacks of brick and tools propped against the tree. I liked seeing the boards on the porch and the huge freezer, waiting for a home.
Seeing a line up of pastel bathtubs made me grin. I wonder if they will be refurbished and put back in some of the rooms?
Sean had told us about the hard work that went into making the porch, wheelchair accessible.
When rebuilding the brick floor, they made sure to show off those vintage materials, with their printed words, facing up! It was fun to spot a few... Trinidad and Coffeyville!
Coffee and Books and Photo-time
After roaming a bit, Don and I settled down with some coffee and some history books, featuring the Harvey Girls.
We had some fun, reading and posing for photos and waiting for trains. We didn't see one that morning, but we had fun planning a future Amtrak trip between Winslow and Las Vegas!
Before heading up to pack, we took some time to enjoy the street side of the hotel.
Earlier I had noticed the beautiful Rawlings Building with its pressed tin front. The building had once housed the Harvey Girls who worked at our hotel. What a good sign, that it's now being restored.
Excitement on Railroad Avenue
By 11 a.m. the quiet street became a little more lively. We could hear the rumble of motors first, then voices and laughter.
We stepped out in time to see about 10 nifty cars, lining up and slowly moving down the road. They were headed for Plaza Park, for some kind of festival. What a hoot! We stood and watched, our own little parade!
Off We Go
By 11:30, Don and I were checked out and on the road. We left feeling delighted with our stay.
It had not been that long since we'd first heard about the hotel, that would someday be renovated!
We stayed at another Harvey House Hotel and that is a big deal! There were once 84 Harvey Houses and now there are a handful. La Posada and Castaneda are the only 2, that were abandoned and later reopened! I can't believe we have now stayed at both.
It's also a big deal, that we got to experience a little of the restoration in progress. I will fondly remember the fresh paint AND wheelbarrows. I will also remember feeling satisfied, just enjoying the property. Although there is plenty to explore in and around the historic town, we stayed put and enjoyed the history of our hotel!
Curious Colorado Town!
34 years ago, Don and I spent some time with my brother, exploring small towns in Colorado.
We were pretty intrigued when we came across the town of Cripple Creek, with its curious name. Then, on the edge of town, we stumbled across the Hospitality House and we couldn't resist!
Teller County Hospital
This is the photo I took when we discovered the hotel in 1985. We were eager about the idea of a staying overnight, in an 84 year old building. We were even more excited that the building had originally housed a hospital, that treated the local miners from the last Colorado Gold Boom. We hiked up that long set of stairs, to learn more.
Earlier that day, we had toured an old gold mine. Our guide was a retired miner who was missing a finger, from a mining accident. He shared some interesting stories about the thousands of of men, who had worked in the dangerous mines, in the late 1800's. Some ended up at this hospital.
Our Eerie Photos
In my old hotel photos, Don and Chris look humorously hesitant. But I'm pretty sure we 3, were more than thrilled about the place. We were quickly welcomed by the host, who invited us to look around and chose our rooms.
We had a giddy time exploring. Like most old hotels, there were antiques. But there were also antique wheelchairs and operating tables and even a bedpan or too. Scary? No, just fun. I have fond memories and for decades I hoped to return.
On a road trip 6 years ago, I noticed Cripple Creek on the map. Don and I took a detour and dropped by to see if the hotel was still open.
I was pretty delighted to see the old building, which was by then, 113 years old. I had totally forgotten the RV park on the property. I barely remembered the retro seesaw and monkey bars in front. I snapped some photos and once again hiked the stairs, before grabbing a brochure, for a future stay.
Six Years Later in 2019
This year, Don and I planned another Colorado road trip and we made sure to book a night at the Hospitality House.
When we arrived on a beautiful day in early June, it took me a moment to figure out what was wrong.
That crazy staircase was gone! Where was that exhausting display of steps, that made me picture doctors and nurses climbing and gasping for breath... before they treated their patients! Of course, locals would have been used to the 9,494 elevation. Not me!
When I look at these now and then images, I just have to wonder why on earth they ever had all those stairs in front? Later when I spotted a photo from 1902, I wondered again about the ever-changing stairs. 117 years ago, there was a totally different, arched, double staircase, leading up to the entrance.
When we arrived this past June, I was glad I had a past photo to help untangle my memories.
It was fun to study the changed exterior. The lack of stairs seemed to put the focus on the wonderful porches.
There was no climbing to reach the lobby this time. We passed some colorful hummingbird feeders and walked through a large sun porch to the first floor lobby.
Right away we were greeted by one of the owners. Rick was very amused to hear that we'd stayed so many years ago.
Questions for Rick
We chatted with Rick about all the changes, since the hospital closed in 1960. He talked about the challenges they've faced since purchasing, in 2014... even though it was converted to a hotel in 1963.
It was a relief to know the hotel is in good hands, owned by folks who are loyal to the history. Renovations have been done with great care, preserving the beautiful structure and woodwork and even the wallpaper, wherever they can.
The stories have been preserved as well. Rick gave me a 15-page write up, of the hospital's history. He laughed that it might be more than I wanted to know, but I was totally entertained!
A Cripple Creek Native
Don and I also had some fun talking with Gary Lou, when she came on duty. Gary Lou was surprised to learn that we had been guests, 5 years before she began working at the hotel. She was born in Cripple Creek. I wonder if they had any paved roads in Cripple Creek, when she was born? There was only one in 1985.
I knew Gary Lou couldn't have been born in the Teller County Hospital, since it was a nursing home by the 1940's. But, she said she was delivered by Cripple Creek's most well known doctor, "Doc" Denham. She told us Room 201 in the hotel, was named after him.
St. Nicholas Hospital, from 1898
I'm guessing Gary Lou was born at the nearby St. Nicholas Hospital, where "Doc" practiced, after his earlier years at Teller County. Don and I had noticed the impressive building, high on a hill, when we first drove into town.
It was especially interesting to read more about "Doc" later. I learned that he had come to town in 1922, to find work as a miner. When he learned about the need for additional physicians, (40+ doctors wasn't enough) he took a 2-year medical course and began treating local patients. By 1942, the boom was long over and Dr. Denham was the only doctor in the county. He continued to practice (often supporting the hospital, with his own funds) until his death in 1984.
Exploring and Learning
My blog rambles a bit, but it's sometimes hard not to share the fun tidbits we learn with our stays. Our most notable nights, usually involve an enthused "people encounter" and Rick was just that. He did not bombard us with history. He only shared, when we showed sincere interest!
Rick pointed out a downstairs guest room, with a thought provoking history. The large guest room is now called the Outpatient Room. Rick said it had initially been a dorm-like space for men, who earned their keep by helping out at the hospital. The facility really had two purposes, when it opened in 1902. It was known as the "Teller County Poorhouse and Hospital". Lots to think about with that.
I was eager to head up to the floor, where patients once stayed and operations occurred.
I remembered the staircase well... extra wide, to accommodate gurneys and stretchers.
Wallpaper and Transoms
I recognized the wallpaper from my old photos.
The transoms looked different. Rick said the plain glass was replaced with stained glass designs, to block the intrusion of hall light at night. That was appreciated!
New and Old
I loved seeing the old radiator and the rocker, with lion heads.
The wooden wheelchair looked familiar, but it was now roped off... so no playing, like 34 years ago.
The carpet had been replaced. I'm all for authenticity... but new carpet is nice!
I spotted an old doctor's bag and wondered who once carried it. Was the bag owner a doctor, who practiced in 1902... when 14-year-old, Roy Bourquin was rushed to Teller Hospital, after blowing off his hands, while playing with explosive powder?
Hopefully Roy's ghost was not wandering these hallways. Roy eventually became a resident at Teller Hospital, in the Poorhouse, I assume. He continued to cause serious problems with his love of dynamite, despite the fact he had no hands. He lived at the facility, until a more serious action sent him to prison, in 1922.
Don and I were mighty pleased that we were able to grab the Operating Room, for our overnight!
Some might shy away from the room's history, but we grinned with anticipation as we headed towards the door. Luckily I didn't know the story of Roy, when we walked in. I didn't picture the young pyromaniac being treated in our room... until right now. Yikes!
Our room looked as clean as an operating room should be. I remembered peeking in this room years ago, but I didn't notice the odd doorway to the bath, until this time.
Our bathroom had once been the Scrub Room. My photo shows how the brown woodwork, is within a larger (white) frame. After the medical staff scrubbed up, they they would head through that original large opening, to the Operating Room... I guess.
Our Own Scrub Room!
Bathing in the Scrub Room might not thrill all guests. But there are many options for others, who don't like to be reminded of the hotel's odd history.
But, I loved our scrub room! Look at the old transom, hiding behind the toilet and shower. That was the room's other entrance, from the hall.
The original marble sinks and floor tile were impressive. The brass buttons on the floor didn't function, but I had fun imagining the physicians and nurses, working them with their feet.
Updated Just Enough
Our cozy room had been updated just a bit, since I peeked in 6 years before.
There were new window treatments and the queen bed had new bedding.
Chairs and Windows
Our room wasn't huge, but there was enough space on both sides of the bed, for a table and lamp, a chair and even a radiator.
I'm always thrilled when Don and I get our own lamps and tables in old hotels.
Three tall windows and the bright white tile, made the room seem even larger than it was. In fact, our room seemed much better suited for relaxing, than for operating.
Time For Fun
While our hall was free of other guests, Don and I decided to have some fun in the hallway, like we did back in 1985 with my brother. While being respectful of course, we did a little posing with some "props" and snapped a few photos.
I couldn't resist doing a quick photo pose with some wooden crutches I found in the hall. I promise, I was ever so cautious!
Then and Now
Next, it was time to revisit some of our old photos. The photo of Don and Chris speaks for itself! It's lucky we were ever welcomed back to Hospitality House.
This time, we respected the protective rope, for our photo op. Don didn't have nearly as much fun posing, without Chris.
Years ago, I stuffed a pillow under my sweatshirt, when we stayed in the Maternity Room.
This time, we didn't have a third person to take our photo and I was too old to play "New Mommy". I popped a nurse hat on and cradled the pillow, instead.
Cripple Creek Donkeys!
After our fun with photos, we headed into town for a while. Rick sent us off with a baggie of mushed fruit and grain, to feed the sweet donkeys who roam through the streets and yards!
Again, I thank Rick for letting us know about Cripple Creek's donkeys! I have long been a fan of donkeys and would have been crushed, if I'd missed out on a donkey encounter during our stay!
This was a huge highlight for me! The friendly herd of 17, are believed to be descendants of the original donkeys that worked the mines.
They are basically the town mascots, roaming the town freely from mid May through October. Healthy feeding is encouraged.
I was surprised to know that a local club has cared for the donkeys since the 1930's. I never spotted any critters on our past visits. We wondered how the residents feel about these critters. Rick assured me that the donkeys came first. "If you don't like donkeys in your yard, you're encouraged to build a fence." I love that.
The cutest donkey moment, was when two seemed to snuggle up, in the middle of the street. I told Rick later and he told us the donkeys often hang out with their favorite buddies. That made me a little sad, when I noticed the third donkey in this photo. He needs a buddy.
Solarium Happy Hour
We were in giddy spirits by the time we returned to the hotel. We were ready to celebrate with a little Happy Hour.
Don and I remembered the second floor solarium, from years ago. It was the perfect place to celebrate!
Gary Lou gave us some ice and Don made a couple martinis... although they look like glasses of water in this photo. Hmmm? We made a toast to the donkeys!
There were other guests, but we had the wonderful glassed in porch to ourselves. We spotted the actual wheelchair from our photo, 34 years ago. We were told later that the operating table (holding the baby scale) had actually been used for surgeries, in our room.
We didn't get around to checkers, but we loved lounging with our view through the glass. As the wind picked up, the surrounding trees became very entertaining. I could have sat there forever, but we needed to get some dinner.
Returning at Night
Rick recommended a restaurant called, Maggie's. We walked about a mile to town and ate in the basement restaurant, which had once been the town morgue. The food was quite good and gave us energy for the uphill hike back to the hotel.
As we headed up the hill towards the glowing, brick building, we were glad we were able to return... unlike some of the patients who ended up at the morgue, after their stay at Teller County Hospital.
Don and I slept well in the Operating Room.
In the morning, we scrubbed up well and headed to the "kitchen" for our complimentary breakfast snack.
Food on the Stove
There were a couple of old stoves and an antique table, holding some decent breakfast options. We chatted with Rick one more time before heading off.
He laughed at the photos I shared from our visit years ago. He gave us some great suggestions for a scenic drive to the nearby town of Victor and some old mines. We were off, in great spirits!
Our stay was every bit as enjoyable as it was 34 years ago, when I was in my twenties. Back then, Don, Chris and I acted more like happy teenagers, embracing the adventure of our hotel/hospital experience!
This time around was even better. (Except that Chris wasn't with us!) Don and I may be old geezers now, but our stay felt as playful as our visit in 1985. We had a hoot of a good time, rediscovering all the delights of the hotel.
While we enjoyed all the whacky medical stuff, we also appreciated learning about the history, the renovation and preservation. Thanks so much to Rick and Gary Lou for helping with that. This was not just an oddball overnight stay in a hospital building. We learned about its connection to the town and the people.
We left happy! We won't wait 34 years to return, this time!
"Flagship of the San Juans" of 1886
Don and I spotted this Victorian beauty when visiting Ouray, in 2013.
It looked pretty grand on the outside, with the San Juan Mountains in the background. We could see how it got its nickname, way over 100 years ago.
A Peek Inside
On that summer day, we stepped inside to have a look around. The hotel had recently undergone major renovations.
We put the Beaumont on our list for a future trip.
Beaumont Hotel & Spa in 2019
This past June, Don and I had our chance to be guests at the Beaumont Hotel & Spa. Neither of us cared about the spa features of the hotel.
I was mostly eager to know that our second visit to Ouray, would involve a hotel room... with a bathroom and no bullet holes.
We arrived at 3 and found no one at the lobby desk, but a sign told us to use the antique phone, for assistance.
A young voice answered politely and soon we heard her steps trotting down from the 3rd floor. The young woman welcomed us with much enthusiasm and got us checked in.
Posing Like Newlyweds
Our very enthused host saw me trying to photograph the staircase and offered to take our picture.
She teased us into posing like many of the bridal couples, who have celebrated weddings at the hotel. Our western attire wasn't exactly suited for the photo shoot.
My eyes kept wandering upward, as we chatted at the desk. The afternoon sun through the skylight, made the lobby extra dramatic.
Later, when we climbed the stairs towards the skylight, I found my favorite view. Looking over the railing on the 3rd floor, I took in all the shapes and patterns and angles... above, across and below. Altogether, the wallpaper, railings and woodwork created a fun design!
Looking down, I was glad we weren't traveling with small kids who like to climb, or drop things.
Actually small kids aren't allowed at the hotel. So I guess that's never an issue.
Our host took us to our third floor room. We rolled our bags past some lovely doors and a stack of vintage trunks.
Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover were once guests at the hotel. That was back in the day, when people traveled with steamer trunks.
I recognized the intricate wallpaper from our first visit.
I recall some stories about the renovation challenges and the difficulties of matching the original wallpaper patterns. I couldn't decide which was my favorite.
Next to The Dragonfly Suite
Each of the 12 rooms had a name plaque.
I liked the name of the room next to ours. "Dragonfly" We were told Oprah once stayed in that room.
In our usual style, we booked one of the cheaper rooms. Our room named Sarah, didn't look a bit cheap.
I would rather have a queen with 2 nightstands than a king, without. There were certainly no bullet holes in the Sarah!
Our host showed us around the room.
She didn't have to explain why the faucet water came out cloudy. The sign in the bathroom explained all about those tiny bubbles of Rocky Mountain water!
Our 4 windows were decorated with elegant drapes, pulled open with equally deluxe (and festive) hardware.
The windows gave us a good peek at the hotel's garden, below.
Rich and Cozy
Victorian is not always the most comfortable of styles, but we had no complaints.
Our pretty little room had all that was needed from desk to ceiling fan, to fridge, microwave, Keurig coffeemaker and TV.
Our marble vanity held 2 sinks, which is a treat in an old hotel.
The nightlight was handy and so were the small towels in the box beneath the sink. "Rags... For your dirty work"
Cookies & Robes
After returning from dinner, we decided to make some coffee and chow down on the cookies we'd bought earlier.
While the coffee brewed, we discovered the robes. They worked like giant bibs for all those giant cookie crumbs!
We were sad to learn that the hotel no longer had a restaurant and bar.
However, our building housed a bookstore and sometimes books can be every bit as exciting as food.
In the morning, we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast in an area that was connected to the book shop.
I sipped my coffee near the old fireplace, waiting for the book store to open at 10.
I'm guessing the breakfast room must have been where the restaurant was in 2013. Many years ago, the same space was a movie theatre.
From the breakfast room, there was another door, (near the stove that held the toaster) that led to the hotel's garden. What a sweet little mountain view, between the buildings!
The Beaumont may no longer have its own dining options, but there were so many options nearby. Ouray felt like an extension of our hotel. We could head right out the door and explore the little mountain town on foot.
We enjoyed the view from the rooftop lounge, at Ouray Brewery and we dined at the Outlaw Restaurant. If we'd been just a little braver, we could have mingled with the locals at the nearby Elk's Lodge. It was Bingo Night and the sign said, "All Welcome!"
It's amazing to know, that this grand hotel made it through 2 World Wars, the Great Depression and Prohibition, before it closed down in 1961.
It's hard to believe this beautiful building sat empty for decades.
It's also hard to believe that our meticulously restored hotel, showed no signs of it's troubled years. There were no hints of the pink paint that covered it, when it sat vacant. I'm so grateful that the Beaumont was rescued... so that we could be guests in 2019!
Curious Place in Redstone, Colorado
Don and I dined at this little inn, 2 years ago. This past June, we returned and spent a night.
How did we first hear about this fine place? A cookbook.
Cook Book from 1959
While traveling two years ago, we flipped through our old Ford Motor cookbook for inspiration. We looked through the recipes in the Colorado section, hoping to find a restaurant or hotel that was still serving food in 2017.
On page 215, I found Redstone Lodge, with a recipe for Mock Cheese Cake and an illustration that looked like a Walt Disney created fairytale setting. I checked the internet and the hotel was still in operation! We decided to stop for breakfast.
The hotel didn't exactly match the exaggerated book illustration, but it was festive with flags and flowers.
Not Always a Hotel
The building was completed in 1902, but not as a lodge or inn.
The structure was built to provide housing for bachelor miners, who worked for John C. Osgood's Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Pretty ritzy, for miners who were often used to living in shacks.
We arrived 2 years ago and headed for the entrance at the base of the tower.
We passed through an entry, with a wonderful hand carved bench.
The hotel lobby was neat and quiet, that June morning.
The woman at the desk was pleasant. She steered us towards the bar/grill.
Old Dining Room
I was disappointed that the main dining room was closed, since this was probably the place where Mock Cheese Cake was once served.
Dining in Back
We were actually better dressed for the bar and grill. We settled in with our menus and coffee.
While waiting for our omelets and bagels, I studied the space trying to determine whether it was a new addition. I always prefer old.
It looked like at least part of the dining area was the original building. One of the servers said the round window had been there since 1902. It looked like a glowing, circular painting.
There was a screen door and there were lots of windows, to enjoy the surrounding pine trees and gardens and sunshine.
Best of all, our young server was excited to see the cookbook with the spotlight on Redstone. "We don't even serve cheesecake at all!" She laughed as she studied the watercolor image and recipe. Usually young people don't really get it, when we share the cookbook.
Two years after our cozy breakfast, we returned to have a night at the lodge... now called inn.
We had reservations for the Clock Tower Room. My photo shows our windows, right beneath the clock.
The 89-dollar room was a bargain. A decent price, even if we had to lug our bags up 3 flights to our room, that had no bath. We knew that, when we booked.
Up We Go
We didn't mind the stairs. We're always happy to burn off some of the road food calories.
We also didn't mind one night, without our own bath or sink.
At the top of the stairs, we found separate community baths for men and women, close to our room. Mine was very nice and clean, with fresh towels and soaps. But how many people were sharing this bath? Inquiring minds just wanted to know. So I inquired at the desk. The woman who had checked us in, wasn't exactly the most welcoming, when we arrived. So, I attempted to me more cheerful than nosy, when I asked if she knew how many people were sharing the baths on the third floor.
I reworded my question twice but couldn't get a real answer. I sensed there were no other guests on our floor, but she seemed to enjoy withholding the information. "Oh there are just a few." She said at first. I said I would be more comfortable, if I knew how many people I might be sharing towels and soaps with. "Oh... there really shouldn't be a problem." That answer was a little vague for me.
In the morning, (after rushing more than usual in the shower) I was pleased to come down the stairs and see a new smiling face at the desk.
I asked my I'm just curious question, and she answered with an enthused voice. "Oh, you were our only guests on the third floor last night! You had it all to yourselves!" Grrrr! I would have enjoyed my shower more...
Our Clock Tower Room
But our sweet little room was just fine.
When we first opened the door to our square, cozy space, I grinned. I loved the idea of sleeping beneath the big clock. We also had a clock on the wall, but it was the tower clock that I heard late at night, when all was quiet. The soothing tic-tocking sound, helped me drift off to sleep.
There were two sets of windows, with oddly tied curtains. The window shapes were fun and the view was even funner.
The lush landscape beyond was lovely, but I was intrigued by the roofline, with all the dormer windows.
Wondering About Windows
I studied the lineup of narrow, rectangular windows, to the left. Then I headed down the hall to inspect. There were no rooms off the hall. The windows provided light for the hallway, which led to the other tower.
The dormer windows right across from us, must have belonged to more guest rooms. Did the miners once sleep on the third floor? Maybe the cooks and cleaning staff did? Who slept in the clock tower room?
Our tower room was a little tight, but the high ceiling made it feel less cramped. We had a desk and even a TV.
The closet held a fan and a portable heater. I was very curious about the ladder in the closet, that obviously led up to the clock. But the trapdoor was locked.
Since we couldn't explore the upper tower and examine the clock, we took off to explore the grounds.
The swimming pool was closed for renovation. That worked for us, since we hadn't planned on swimming... and the hotel offered a $25. food voucher to compensate.
The area between the lobby and dining room was charming, with leather sofas, chessboard and a great fireplace... if only it had been colder.
But the lights were off and I didn't wanted to ask the desk woman, who seemed cranky. Maybe she was just having a bad day.
There was a brighter area on the other side of the lobby that looked more welcoming.
There were books and there was another great fireplace... if it had been colder.
Balcony with a View
Don and I wandered outside and noticed the outdoor sitting areas on the first and second floor.
No one seemed to be making proper use of these wonderful lounging areas, so we searched for an entrance to the second floor veranda. It was through a little sitting room, in the tower, beneath our room.
We had to dust the pollen (or something) off the chairs before sitting.
But once we were seated in our wicker, we had a lovely mountain view. We made a toast, while the Nikon's auto-timer beeped away.
We were again disappointed that the main dining room was closed. It was summer, but still only open on weekends.
Luckily the grill was open again, since the Redstone community is very isolated, with no other dining options that night.
Relaxing in the Bar & Grill
If the restaurant had been open, then we wouldn't have met Bruce. He was working behind the bar when we went in at 7.
We ended up eating at the bar and chatting into the evening. Thanks to our pleasant and knowledgeable bartender, we learned a lot of history about the area. I hadn't planned on pulling out the old cookbook, but Bruce was the kind of guy who seemed curious enough to be amused. He was. In fact Bruce shared the book with this friendly fellow, who had prepared our food. Both were good sports about posing for me! What an enjoyable evening on a Monday night.
One of the interesting things Bruce shared, was about the reproduced murals in the hotel. In the 1940's, Frank Mechau was a nationally renowned muralist and resident of the small Redstone community.
If you love horses, this image is a little disturbing. But I was drawn right away to the fluid style of all the artist's work that was displayed in the hotel.
While we talked about the art, our artistic meals arrived.
The phyllo & elk appetizer and enchiladas were as tasty as they looked.
Sleeping in the Tower
I slept well, despite a midnight disturbance with an alarm clock across the room. At least the room was small.
I was able to get back to sleep with the soothing sound of the big clock, ticking. Morning was cool, but the sun was bright and warm!
Exploring in the Morning
Since our inn was just steps away from the village of Redstone, we needed to experience the whole community.
We grabbed complimentary hotel coffee and some food from the car and headed for a marble table, beside the Crystal River. After our breakfast picnic, we peeked across the highway to see the old coking ovens that were part of Mr. Osgood's mining company.
Planned Company Town
We wandered down the only road in town, to see a few homes and shops that are left from Osgood's old company town.
In the early 1900's, the miners who had families, lived in the cottages, just down the road from the dormitories (now hotel) that held the unmarried miners. About 130 residents live in the area, today.
We slept in the same Tudor Revival style building, where miners once slept. That's pretty notable right there.
It's hard to picture this place abandoned and in disrepair, after the mines closed in 1909. Much of the town was dismantled or demolished, but luckily the old dormitory was turned into a lodge in the 1950's. Selfishly, I'm glad the inn didn't have a grand, resort feel. It was nice having much of the place to ourselves. But I so hope others will come and enjoy, to help preserve this hotel and community. Sweet little place!
Beautiful Boulder in June
Don and I pulled up to the corner of 13th and Spruce, on Sunday afternoon.
We lucked into free street parking and headed for the entrance.
The 110 year old building was impressive. You've got to love the combined Italian Renaissance and Spanish Revival styles. I did, even if I'm not exactly sure what that means!
I'll bet the folks who attended the 1908 opening gala on New Year's Eve, were impressed. Then again, they might have been too busy socializing, like the crowd enjoying the Corner Bar.
The inside was actually more stunning than the outside.
We had a quick and easy check in, at a newer reception area. (not pictured) Then we headed into the spacious open court area.
How to Capture?
The open court lobby was impossible to capture in one photo.
My picture shows off the stained glass, canopy ceiling and the spectacular stairway... that Don and I climbed many times!
Don and I didn't manage to pull off any posing photos on the stairs, but these folks did.
After checking in, the bellman took us to the original Otis elevator. He left our bags behind, since there was only room for the 3 of us. He closed the metal gate and there were a few loud clanks and clunks, before we reached the 5th floor.
Don and I headed to the room, while the bellman dashed down to retrieve our bags. That was a fun elevator adventure, but we opted for the grand stairs the rest of the time.
Staying at the Boulderado was a splurge for us. We booked the cheapest, historic room we could get.
But when we approached our door in the north corner of the top floor, Don and I grinned. It was right at the top of the grand stairs and it had its own mini hall. Sometimes we just luck out.
I Love Corner Rooms
What a fabulous surprise to open the door to our lovely corner room. We had 6 windows, plus another in the bathroom.
Later, when I looked up from the street, I could spot our room easily. The top vines looked like they were pointing 2 fingers at us!
I opened a side window and looked out. I could see the brown trim and the half pillars!
The bathroom was charming with its dresser-vanity and pleasant smelling Aveda products. The window had a pretty view, of a church and mountains.
Don and I didn't have a need for the desk, but we made good use of the marble sink, refrigerator and coffee maker, in the corner.
We also made use of the sitting area and enjoyed a little snacking. It was nice to take in the Victorian decor... without the vintage smells, that usually come with older hotels.
Back to the Lobby
We definitely burned a few calories going up and down the stairs. We learned that the trip up was a lot easier if you paused to enjoy the view, now and then. (Boulder's elevation was part of the issue.)
I felt like I should make a speech, every time I got to the arched railing. But I was usually too winded, for projecting my voice to the crowds. I wonder how many bouquets have been thrown?
There were lots of decent sitting areas in the lobby.
Bonus points for that. I wondered about the famous people who have enjoyed these areas. Louis Armstrong, Clarence Darrow and Helen Keller are some of the famous, past guests.
I found a number of unusual chairs. I would love to know the story behind the wooden chairs near the fireplace. I found no info, but they made me think of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Keeping Time and Making Calls
I loved these reminders of the past.
The classic grandfather clock and marble column, framed the 2 phones quite well!
It was after I snapped this photo of the vintage floor tile, that I noticed the eerie geometric form, hidden in the design. I cringed a moment, then reminded myself that these tiles were placed, long before the 1930's.
The swastika was a symbol of divinity and spirituality, in Indian religions, long before it became associated with hatred.
Fire and Water
There were other things we noticed while wandering, that were less worrisome.
I had to grin when I noticed the fire extinguishers below the mirror, where you might expect to see some canes or umbrellas. The water fountain was quite a fun feature. I can't believe I didn't attempt a drink, of Pure Cold Water!
Happy Hour Time
Don and I were especially excited to share a little of our Boulderado experience with our nephew and wife, who live in Boulder.
We met them in the lobby at 4 and headed for the Corner Bar. It was actually crowded, unlike my photo. So we headed to the patio.
It was pretty fabulous sitting outside, catching up over drinks. The air was perfect and the crowds were just lively enough.
We had a good table for people watching. There was lots of activity since we were in the heart of downtown, just a block from Pearl Street.
Continuing the Fun
Andy and Casey picked a delicious Nepali restaurant, a few blocks away for dinner.
When we returned to the hotel, it was time to have another peek at the bar in the basement.
License No. 1 Liquor Bar
There were no passwords needed, but there was definitely a speakeasy feel, to bar in the basement. Luckily I had taken some photos earlier. The bar was hopping at 8 pm and my flash would have been obnoxious.
The basement was a maze of cozy rooms. Each one was different. I liked the shoeshine throne, in this one.
Serving Since 1909
Evidently this bar has one of the oldest liquor licenses in Boulder. The sign at the door announced, "Serving since 1909... Legally since 1969"
It was easy to picture a little alcohol being served down here, during prohibition.
It was a totally different experience exploring at 8:30 when the rooms were buzzing with guests.
The only room that was bright enough to sneak a photo without a flash, was this one. We followed the sounds of flutes and violins and found this room, in the midst of an Irish music jam session. We watched a while and wandered on.
A solo guitarist performed in another room. We settled into a cozy, rounded booth and enjoyed for a while.
Not everyone was on vacation, so we finished up our wonderful reunion around 10.
Morning at Boulderado
In the morning I made use of the hotel's fitness room, then grabbed some coffee from the Boxcar window, before showering.
Don and I were dressed and back down to the hotel's Spruce Farm & Fish Restaurant, to make use of our food voucher.
We sat in a sunny, enclosed area that had once been the hotel's porch. Don's omelet with bacon and goat cheese was pretty scrumptious. I ordered fresh fruit, knowing that's often a risky order. I was pleasantly surprised with every mouthwatering bite.
I really didn't want to leave this hotel. People often say that about their vacations and hotels, but that's not usually me. I have a short attention span and I'm always giddy to move along.
This time, I felt like we needed a couple more days. I wanted to lounge more... enjoy more of the excellent food & drink... relax more in our comfy and luxurious room... visit more with our Andy and Casey!
We obviously need to 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!