The Delta King is an unusual little hotel in Old Sacramento. That Old Sacramento historic area is very interesting, and staying on the Delta King added to the experience. When we travel, we make a point to stay in unusual places whenever possible. So when we decided to have a little weekend getaway in Old Sacramento, I jumped at the chance to stay on the Delta King.
When you book your room, you have a choice between the city-side of the boat and the river-side. I didn’t hesitate to book a room on the river-side because clearly it would be more interesting to look out on the boats going by on the river. However, in hindsight, I’m not sure that was the right choice. The configuration of the boat isn’t like a cruise chip with interior hallways and rooms along the outside. Instead, there is a public deck surrounding the outside of the boat. The doors to the rooms open onto this deck, and the rooms extend towards the interior of the boat. (The deck is for hotel guests only, but all hotel guests are free to stroll everywhere around the deck.)
So, in order to see the river from your room, you look past the public deck. When your window shades are open, you can see the river, but everyone who walks by can look into your room. Therefore, most of the time when you are in your room, you will probably have the window shades closed. And if the shades are closed, then it doesn’t matter what the view would have been, since you aren’t looking anyway.
In hindsight, I would have saved a little money and booked a room on the city-side of the boat. Since hotel guests are free to walk the decks, I would simply stroll over to the river-side to enjoy the view.
With respect to functionality, this is an old historic boat, which was not designed to be a standard modern hotel. The people doing the restoration did a fantastic job of upgrading everything as much as possible, but some basic characteristics of the original architecture must remain, of course. While I give the boat a high score for uniqueness, the trade-off is that some standard hotel functionality is lost.
For example, the ceiling was unusually low, and the doorways were especially low and narrow. I estimated that the doorway into the bathroom was about 6 feet high. A 6’-1” person heading to the bathroom in the middle of the night would not be happy! The low ceiling was high enough that it wouldn’t be a problem with respect to bumping your head, but it did make the room feel smaller. For me, I felt like the room was a fine place to sleep at night, but this isn’t the sort of room where you would want to hang out all day.
The bathroom was pretty small, with a small stall shower. The shower was big enough for two, but it was pretty cozy. In all fairness, I’ve stayed other places with much smaller bathrooms before, so that really wasn’t a problem. However, we did notice a serious shortage of shelf/counter space for toiletries. That was truly annoying. It seems like that is something that could be improved pretty easily.
Another minor concern was that the bed squeaked, and it was pretty noisy when we moved. I’m not sure if that was just our room or a general problem. But we did find it to be pretty loud and distracting at certain times, if you know what I mean.
In general, around the public areas there are many places where you could easily trip or hit your head. It’s not a big deal. Just be careful if you had that third glass of wine with dinner!
To put all this in perspective, the hotel never claims to be a standard Holiday Inn, and frankly, if it had been a standard Holiday Inn, I wouldn’t have stayed there in the first place! The whole point of this hotel is for it to provide unique and reasonably-comfortable lodging, and I think they achieved that goal beautifully. Unless you are a very tall or large person, I don’t think you should be discouraged in the slightest by the idiosyncrasies of this place.
Oh, one other tip about the room: at first we thought we only had one bar of soap which we would need to share between the sink and the shower. Eventually, we found the soap for the shower balanced on top of the metal rod for the shower enclosure. I don’t know if that is standard practice, but if you can’t find your other soap, check up there!
The hotel offers valet parking for $18/day (added to your bill). The valet drop-off is on the street closest to the hotel (Front St & “K” St.). This seems to be the most convenient and economical parking solution. However, when it is time to leave, allow plenty of time for them to retrieve your car! The area where the valet parking folks store the cars is a bit of a walk, so it can take a while. This is especially true if there are people ahead of you waiting for their cars also. It’s not a problem if you allow enough time. Just don’t be in a hurry when you ask for your car back, and you’ll be fine.
With respect to nearby activities, the Old Sacramento area has a wide variety of interesting little touristy shops and restaurants. If you like poking around little tourist shops, you’ll really enjoy this area. The primary tourist shopping is primarily in an area about 2 blocks by 3 blocks, and the Delta King is in a good central location to use as a base. There are native Indian artifacts, Peruvian crafts, a huge costume store, and the typical assortment of hats, shirts, and souvenirs.
The selection of restaurants is good, with Mexican, Cajun, seafood, burgers, pasta, and an unusually large number of ice cream shops. We sampled a few different restaurants while we were there. Our favorite was Joe’s Crab Shack. You can see it from the Delta King.
In addition to dining and shopping, you might also enjoy the Eagle Theatre. It’s on the northern end of Front St, and it was actually the first theater built in California. They provide entertaining little music/comedy/drama shows with an old-West theme. The actors wear period attire and drum up business out on the street. The shows are free of charge, but there is a tip jar in the lobby for you to make contributions on your way out. We really enjoyed the show, and it was well worth our time and tip money.
Tip: During the show, the action spilled off the stage into the center aisle, so the seats in front next to the aisle were alarmingly close to the action at times. That was particularly true during the sword fight. I’m sure it’s not a serious concern, but we were a couple rows back, and I remember being very content that I wasn’t closer.
If you have any interest in trains (or even if you don’t), you might really enjoy the California State Railroad Museum at the north end of town. To be honest, we were only lukewarm on the idea of going there, so we didn’t allow much time for it. That was a mistake. The place exceeded my expectations and was very interesting! I wished we had more time. The place is huge, with a surprising number of real full-size trains inside. Some older trains are beautifully restored. Various guides and docents provide a wealth of truly fascinating information. I highly recommend it. Allow plenty of time.
Outside near the river, you can take a 40-minute train ride a few miles down the riverfront and back. We didn’t do this. It seemed exceptionally unremarkable. However, if you do want to do it, and if it’s a really warm day, you should go early. They stop running the trains when it gets too hot.
By the way, if you enjoy unusual lodging, here are some other places we have enjoyed: Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach (historic cruise ship converted to a hotel), Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo (unusual theme rooms ), Victorian Mansion in Los Alamos, CA (Crazy rooms! e.g. bed made from 1956 Cadillac convertible!), Featherbed Railroad in Nice CA by Clear Lake (sleep in a converted train caboose), Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA (stay in a furnished safari tent and see African animals outside), Hobbit House in Hawaii (cute hobbit-style B&B on the big island), Out 'n' About Treehouses in Southern Oregon (the rooms are high up in real tree houses), Kokopelli B&B in Farmington New Mexico (huge and nicely-furnished apartment in an actual cave in the side of a cliff with a great view).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Delta King is an authentic, historic, and permanently moored riverboat on the Sacramento River in Downtown Old Sacramento, Ca. In addition to the two restaurants, the Delta King has 44 AAA 3-Diamond rated staterooms with prepared to order hot breakfast daily, two dinner theatres, a wine school, and wedding & conference facilities. Sacramento Bee says: Pilothouse Restaurant is a must dine destination. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Delta King Sacramento
- Delta King Hotel Sacramento
- Delta Sacramento
- Sacramento Delta