Nine hotels in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming lure visitors with their grand past and great lodgings.
BENBOW INN Garberville, Calif. "I was here more than 30 years ago and returned only recently," writes Susan Carothers of San Francisco. "The large fireplace, hardwood floors, and grand dining room—all set on the banks of the gushing Eel River—made me feel as if I'd never left." (800) 355-3301, www.benbowinn.com .
GEISER GRAND HOTEL Baker City, Ore. "You get the eerie feeling you've stepped back to the gold-mine boom," writes Sue Pearl of Nampa, Idaho. "Underneath the Victorian-style chandeliers, you'd almost expect to see bearded miners and cattle drivers plunking their pouches of gold dust onto a poker table." (888) 434-7374, www.geisergrand.com .
GOLD HILL HOTEL Gold Hill, Nev. "Built in 1861, this is the state's oldest hotel," says Ron Cameron of San Mateo, Calif. "Cozy and well-appointed, the rooms remind me of something from an old Bonanza set; and the restaurant (Crown Point) specializes in delicious yet unusual fare such as elk fillets, wild boar, and Maple Leaf Farms duck breast." (775) 847-0111, www.goldhillhotel.net .
LA PLAYA HOTEL Carmel, Calif. "Is there any spot more delightful than La Playa's restaurant veranda overlooking the gardens?" asks Richard Dillon of Mill Valley, Calif. "The converted Mediterranean villa is decorated with old black-and-white photos." (800) 582-8900, www.laplayahotel.com .
MCMENAMINS EDGEFIELD Troutdale, Ore. "No phone, no television, but no lack of delights," writes Christy Jones Irish of The Dalles, Ore. "There's a garden, pub, brewery, winery, movie theater, and golf course all around an artfully renovated building from 1911—originally the Multnomah County Poor Farm." (800) 669-8610, www.mcmenamins.com .
MISSION INN Riverside, Calif. "What began as a 12-room adobe boardinghouse in 1876 now occupies an entire city block of downtown Riverside," says Sylvia Sundholm of San Jose. "It resembles a Mediterranean or Spanish village, with narrow passageways, arches, a five-story spiral staircase, plus towers, domes, minarets, and a high pedestrian bridge." (800) 843-7755, www.missioninn.com .
OLD FAITHFUL INN Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. "Where else can you while away the evening watching wild bison gnaw on the lawn?" asks Robin Johnson of Stockton, Calif. "This magnificent lodge has massive doors, timber beams, old-fashioned light fixtures and wall coverings and claw-foot bathtubs." (866) 439-7375, www.travelyellowstone.com .
THE AHWAHNEE Yosemite National Park, Calif. "A true architectural masterpiece," says Les Carpenter of Danville, Calif. "The soaring dining room window focuses attention on the glaciated stone of the canyon wall. On one trip, we stayed in the room Queen Elizabeth occupied in her visit to the valley." (559) 253-5676, www.yosemitepark.com .
VIRGINIAN HOTEL Medicine Bow, Wyo. "A great place to stay if you're traveling on a budget," suggests Katherine Cozzitorto of Hilmar, Calif. "The three-story hotel, located in the southeastern part of the state, was named for Owen Wister's 1902 novel The Virginian. At the bar, notice the bullet holes in the ceiling, put there in a poker dispute." (307) 379-2377, www.medicinebow.org/virginian .
WOLF CREEK INN Wolf Creek, Ore."Built in 1883, this is the oldest continuously operated hotel in Oregon," reports Ron Bolt of Sutherlin, Ore. "It once served as an important stagecoach stop on the 16-day journey from San Francisco to Portland. President Rutherford B. Hayes, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard have slept at the inn. Jack London wrote some of his works in a room on the second floor." (541) 866-2474, www.thewolfcreekinn.com .
Photography by Sean Arbabi
This article was first published in September 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.