If you've toured Hearst Castle and dreamed of spending a night there, point your car south. The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, a few hours south in Riverside, is pretty darn close. Like Hearst Castle, this structure is the culmination of one man's dreams and treasures brought back from early-20th-century world travels.
You could easily spend hours ambling around the property, exploring architectural nooks, admiring antiques or just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful grounds. (Is that an antique grist mill embedded into the sidewalk? (Why, yes, it is.)
Oh, and it's a fine hotel, too, with several on-premise restaurants. We found each member of the staff, from the reception desk to the valets, to be very polite and friendly. The lobby with its plush furnishings, antiques and atmosphere is definitely a place you'll want to linger. It also has free wi-fi.
The food is delicious. The margaritas are tasty and quite generous.
The guest rooms are unusual — but in a good way. You won't find anything bland or cookie-cutter here. We saw one room that featured windows on parallel walls, one side of which overlooked a courtyard. Another room was a double with two bathrooms — and both windows led onto a rooftop terrace.
This stay, we were upgraded to a junior suite, and both the bedroom and sitting rooms were sizable and comfortable. What a great surprise. I just wish we could have stayed another night.
Be sure to take the docent-guided tour. There are parts of the property like the St. Francis Chapel and some of the meeting rooms you simply won't see otherwise. (Unless, of course, you are there for a wedding or a special event.) The St. Francis Chapel features Tiffany stained-glass windows, antique European choir stalls and a huge gold-on-wood Mexican altar piece.
As antiques and artwork are sprinkled throughout the property, your docent will be able to tell you the story of some of what you are looking at, plus interesting anecdotes and tales. Among the notables who stayed at the Mission Inn during the early 20th-century, Louis Comfort Tiffany stands out because he wanted to purchase the large Nanking bell, which you'll find outside right across from the valet station. The story goes that it was not for sale. Considering how the hotel still managed to acquire some lovely pieces from him, there must have been something else that caught Mr Tiffany's eye.
Don't miss the International Rotunda on the property. Be sure to bring your camera along to get a the beautiful spiral shot. Climb up to the very top floor, for more surprises, including the chef's herb garden, too.
Looking forward to the next visit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This castle-like hotel is next door to the Main Street Pedestrian Mall and a half-mile from the Riverside Convention Center. This historic hotel occupies a city block in downtown Riverside. Guests have included presidents and Pulitzer Prize winners. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Mission Hotel Riverside
- Mission Hotel Riverside
- Mission Resort Riverside
- Inn Mission Riverside Ca
- Mission Inn Hotel Riverside