In the fall of 2013, Don and I stopped in the old California boomtown, of Grass Valley.
We were lucky to get one of the 27 rooms at the Holbrooke, on a Friday night.
The hotel was built in 1862, but the vintage car we parked next to in the back, was almost 100 years younger!
Interesting Lobby Vibe
This lobby photo makes the hotel look peaceful and cozy.
It was actually pretty hopping at about 4 pm. Live music was pouring out, from the hotel's saloon. A group of musicians had just finished rolling equipment through the lobby.
Checking In & Heading Up
As we checked in, we chuckled with the desk clerk about hotel hauntings. The Holbrooke, as with most historic hotels, has a few ghost stories. Then we climbed into the cage-like elevator and rattled upward, watching the first floor disappear.
We reached the second floor and admired the 150 year old woodwork... with the 1980's updates. I've seen a lot of 80's-era parquet floors and green wallpaper, in old hotels. There must have been a lot of hotel renovations going on, 30+ years ago.
There was a guest book in the hallway with Grover Cleveland's signature. Mark Twain also stayed at the Holbrook once, but I guess he didn't sign the book.
I would like to think Mark Twain stayed in our room and did a little writing... but I guess not, since our room was named for Gilbert Barry. I don't even know Mr. Barry, but evidently he was one of those silent movie actors who became less popular when transitioning to "talkies".
About the Room
Our room was modernized just enough. The mattress and bedding were good quality and I appreciate that. There were some "antiques" like you'd find at a nice garage sale... which is fine. The woodwork had a fresh coat of yellow.
I'm glad they didn't mess with the bathroom floor. The hexagonal tile with the "H" was a pretty nice touch!
Tub and Tank!
I love a claw footed tub, with a shower option. And I love a comical old toilet tank, if it works.
And it did. The lace curtains in the bathroom window didn't offer much privacy, though. Of course there was a brick wall about 6 feet across, so I don't think we probably needed curtains at all.
The hotel restaurant looked very classy with exposed brick and gallery art. The tables were inviting with purple and magenta linens.
We didn't get a chance to sample the menu for dinner, but did have the hotel's complimentary breakfast in the morning. Sadly it was served in a newer addition, which felt more like a banquet hall.
Exploring and Lounging
There was a parlor off the lobby that offered some nice seating and maybe even a fire, had it been cooler.
Golden Gate Saloon
By early evening the hotel's Golden Gate Saloon was filled with a mostly middle aged crowd, being entertained by a decent singer and guitarist.
Locals and Travelers
Don and I were able to grab the last table and order drinks, before heading off to dinner. We enjoyed a little people watching and quickly determined the crowd was made up of more locals than travelers.
And these locals didn't seem to be your typical small town bar crowd either. The fact that tennis instead of football was playing on the TV above the bar hinted at that.
A Friend at the Bar
Don and I both noticed the gentleman with the cap, seated at the bar. He seemed to be sipping water as he applauded Nadal's tennis skills. Seeing such tennis enthusiasm, let me know we had something in common.
Before long, the man who called himself G.G., was seated at our table talking about his passion for nearly an hour. He told us about his time in the service during the Korean War and how being on the tennis team made the difficult flight training program bearable. He talked about his later years as a Pan Am pilot. I had to ask if that world was as glamorous then as we've been lead to believe. He laughed and steered the conversation once again to tennis. He hinted that overseas travel got tedious and tennis gave him something to look forward to. "Wherever I landed for the night, I always made sure I had a match lined up!"
The historic hotel itself was not as memorable as the sweet town of Grass Valley and our interesting chat with one of its locals. The convenience of staying right no Main Street with restaurants and shops, is worth noting.
But I'm glad we didn't take off for dinner any earlier, or we would have missed the memorable atmosphere and conversation at The Golden Gate Saloon!
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!