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Ashland, Oregon: Offbeat Sleeps

Posted by Melanie Haiken on May 24, 2011
brick wall exterior of Peerless Hotel in Ashland, Oregon picture
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Photo: Melanie Haiken
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Peerless Hotel, Ashland.

Road Journals Blog—Thanks to the press of visitors who arrive every year for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland has plenty of hotel rooms. But overpriced Tudor-themed lodges can all start to seem the same after a while, so this year my daughters and I went in search of lodgings with a bit more personality.

Thanks to the press of visitors who arrive every year for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland has plenty of hotel rooms. But overpriced Tudor-themed lodges can all start to seem the same after a while, so this year my daughters and I went in search of lodgings with a bit more personality.

First up was the Peerless Hotel on Fourth Street. Once a boarding house for railroad workers, the historic brick building is now a boutique hotel that offers elegance without feeling frou-frou. No doilies, but Italian linens on dramatic beds like a wrought iron model from New Orleans or a hand-carved four-poster from the West Indies. Located on hip little Fourth Street just blocks from the rail line, it’s convenient to Noble Coffee Roasters, the Ashland Coop, and other popular local businesses, yet is surrounded by very private gardens with lots of little nooks for idling away a few hours. The lively, modern restaurant and bar earn rave reviews, and dessert and drinks are available late into the night in the case of post-theater munchies.

Funky Blue Moon Bed and Breakfast, a restored 1890s farmhouse and cottage, is also in the Fourth Street neighborhood, and though a little rough around the edges it’s long on charm. A newly completed sauna and steam room, available to all guests, open onto the garden, where you’re welcome to take your morning coffee. A full breakfast is served in the dining room or on the deck in the shade of a spreading English walnut tree.

Six miles from downtown, 5,500 feet up rugged Mt. Ashland sits a rustic cedar-shingle dwelling that looks more like an Aspen ski lodge than a Shakespearean manor. A great place to get away from the tourist throngs in high season, the Mt. Ashland Inn is also a great winter getaway, complete with free snowshoes for exploring the surrounding piney woods.

If you don’t mind close quarters and sometimes-loud camaraderie, you’ll love the Ashland Hostel, a cozy home-like rooming house that’s significantly more affordable than most lodging with similar proximity to the Shakespeare festival just a few blocks away. Guests have kitchen privileges, so you can whip up quick, healthy meals using your farmers’ market and co-op provisions.

If you’re on a tight budget or simply prefer to sleep under the stars, a lesser-known option is to camp out at Emigrant Lake. Depending on the water level, the lakeside sites can either be gorgeous or just so-so. But the stars reflected in the lake are spectacular, and the park's water slides are always a great way to cool down and let off steam after sitting still through an afternoon matinee. There are also several good hiking trails that skirt the lakeshore.

Melanie Haiken wrote about Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley, about 30 miles from Ashland, in the May/June 2011 issue of Via.

This blog post was first published in May 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.