Ashland Springs Hotel: A pleasing place to nest

Ashland Springs HotelOur guest post comes from Lynn Armitage, a freelance travel writer who lives in Northern California. You can reach her at:

You could say that a little birdie told me to stay at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland, Oregon. This 70-room hotel, which beckons weary travelers from the center of a town known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, sports a naturalist theme. You’ll find real collections of bird eggs, nests and pressed flora and fauna — much of it from France – captured in frames hung throughout the hotel.

It really is unlike any other hotel I have ever been in.

 When I walked into the lobby, my first impression was, “Casablanca.” Albeit, the movie was in black and white, and this hotel’s lobby itself was a sunny yellow. But the wicker chairs and palm trees and overhead ceiling fans reminded me of a scene out of that legendary Bogart movie. I got the feeling I was in for a great adventure.

Like Bogart’s character, the history of the Ashland Springs Hotel is a checkered one. Built in 1925, it has changed names and ownership many times through the years. In 1978, it was named an historic landmark by the National Register of Historic Places. Then in 1998, the hotel was “lovingly restored” by its newest owners to its original 1920s simplistic grandeur.

Ashland Springs HotelOur room with a queen bed was on the smallish side, but very tastefully decorated and inviting.  My eyes were drawn immediately to the stately French armoire, yellow bedside table and matching desk. The bed was covered in bright-white linens, a French quilt and a goose-down blanket. After a long drive from Northern Oregon, it set the stage for what I hoped would be a very restful sleep.

It’s a fun hotel to explore, too. On the mezzanine level, above the check-in counter, you’ll find a chandeliered ballroom and a conservatory (sounds like I stepped into a game of Clue) with glass doors that lead out to a beautiful courtyard and garden, complete with a gazebo and fountain. Great place for a wedding reception, and there actually was one in progress that day.

I’m someone who loves late-night snacks, and the Ashland Springs Hotel delivered, big time. From 9:00 p.m. to midnight, they offer guests free snacks on the second-floor balcony. The selection of late-night treats included freshly baked chocolate-chip and peanut-butter cookies, popcorn, spicy trail mix, hot tea and cocoa. It was quite relaxing to sit up on the balcony and nosh, watching guests come in and out of the lobby.

Could Bogart be too far behind, I wondered?

Ashland Springs HotelIn the morning, more complimentary food awaits in the Larks restaurant, where hotel guests are treated to a continental breakfast that starts at 6:30 for those people who really do get up with the birds. It was quite an elaborate breakfast spread that included scrambled eggs, locally sourced fruits, such as marionberries, homemade egg salad, oatmeal, bagels, cinnamon toast and more. Plus, you can sip all sorts of juices and coffee from a local roaster.

No wonder Ashlandians (is that what they’re called?) are so proud of this landmark hotel.  The staff and architects behind this experience really know how to make out-of-towners feel right at home.

Where to eat:

Main Street in Ashland is home to a number of restaurants, cafés and eateries. The concierge recommended Pasta Piatti, an Italian restaurant just a leisurely stroll away from the hotel. You can’t go wrong with Italian food done right, and they do it right here, serving up traditional Italian comfort foods, like lasagna and chicken parmesan. And they have pizzas, paninis and roasted veggies for the vegetarians in the crowd. Many of the ingredients are sourced from local growers and producers, so the food is ultra-fresh.