Vintage California hotels where Gold Rush and early California dreams live on
Some hotels built in 19th century California still stand — and retain their vintage vibe. Early fortune-hunters bedded down in these places, from the Gold Rush era and onward, indulging their dreams of striking gold or silver. Here are four hotels where you can still get a room and a feel for those heady times.
The 1859 Historic National Hotel near Sonora has operated continuously since it opened a decade after the start of the Gold Rush in 1849. It started out as a hotel with 12 rooms and one bathroom. Two brothers bought the hotel in 1974 and have worked to restore and modernize the rooms. Today it has nine guest rooms, each with its own bathroom. Though each room had been torn down to the studs, the hotel retains its vintage look and feel. The authentic saloon features the original back bar from 1859 plus a stamped tin ceiling. Current room prices range from $140 to $175.
Info: 1859 Historic National Hotel, 18183 Main St., Jamestown; (209) 984-3446
The Tallman Hotel is one of the grand hotels built in the 1870s north of Clear Lake.
According to its history, the hotel was a popular stop between Sacramento and San Francisco for travelers who wanted to soak in the area’s natural mineral waters. The Tallman family ran the hotel for decades, but it became run down and eventually stood empty for four decades.
A new owner bought the property 15 years ago and has restored it, carefully keeping the fir floors, staircases and banisters.
Today you’ll find added vintage touches such as claw-foot tubs and tile floors. Current room prices range from $149 to $269.
Info: Tallman Hotel, 9550 Main St., Upper Lake; (707) 275-2245
The Groveland Hotel, built in 1849, is one of the oldest buildings in the Yosemite area.
It stands at the Gold Rush-era Garrote Camp and started out as a trading post before becoming a hotel. When mining declined, the building changed hands many times.
Last summer new owners bought it, restored it and reopened it in February under the same name. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Renovated rooms feature more modern decor — platform beds topped with memory-foam mattresses — with touches of the past.
Room prices range from $139 to $375.
Info: Groveland Hotel, 18767 Main St., Groveland; (209) 962-4000
This Victorian was built in 1890 by U.S. Sen. James Fair, who made big money not from gold, but from silver mining in Nevada’s Comstock Lode.
It first served as Miss Mary Lake’s Finishing School for Girls (rumor has it she still haunts Room 410) and withstood the devastating 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire.
After changing hands, falling into disrepair and being restored, the hotel in Pacific Heights now charms guests with its large bay windows, wood-burning fireplaces and whirlpool tubs (depending on which rooms you choose).
The 48 rooms reflect period decor, and tea and sherry are served daily in the Parlor Room. Room prices range from $125 to $779.
Info: The Queen Anne Hotel, 1590 Sutter St., San Francisco; (415) 441-2828
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