California Inns with Unique Collections
From Egyptian sarcophagi to Moroccan antiques to vintage MGs, several California innkeepers host fascinating collections that are attractions in their own right.
The Martine Inn, overlooking the Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove, is home to several collections. The inn has nearly 30 early California oil paintings, many by famous plein aire artists of the late 1800s and early 1900s, as well as a comprehensive collection of antique clocks--nearly every kind and style that has been made, including one with Westminster chimes. But innkeeper Don Martine’s most cherished collection is his vintage MG sports cars, which he restores, races, shows, and has on display at the inn. His collection of 13 MGs ranges from a 1932 MG D to a 1967 MG B Roadster. Currently on display is a 1947 MGTC DOHC, a 1949 MGY sedan, the 1950 MGTD Von Neumann Special Race Car that won the first Pebble Beach Road Race in 1950, a 1953 MGTD MK II and a 1955 MGTF pickup. All of the Martine Inn’s guest rooms feature fireplaces and claw foot tubs; many also have ocean views.
The Victorian Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Los Alamos is a B&B, a museum and a ten-year labor of love. Together with over 200 expert craftsmen, artisans, and artists, the innkeeper spent the better part of a decade creating the inn’s six masterfully-themed suites. The entire inn is a collection of objets and experiences, including hidden bathrooms, spiral staircases, a cannon coffee table, an Egyptian sarcophagus, a chariot, a gypsy caravan wagon, and a 1956 Cadillac convertible—just to name a few. Each of the Victorian Mansion’s suites feature a fireplace, hot tub, and premium linens, and a gourmet breakfast is provided daily. The Victorian Mansion was selected as one of France's "Le Guide Du Routard's" 'must sees' in California and one of the National Geographic Traveler's "Quirky Hotels Around the Country," and is a recipient of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence.
The innkeepers of the El Morocco Inn & Spa in Desert Hot Springs create an experience of the near East for guests through their carefully curated collection of all things Morocco. Intricately detailed Moroccan lanterns hang around the inn’s patio, and all of the guest rooms are furnished with antique pieces and lush tapestries from Morocco. The inn’s adornments were all hand-picked from markets of Fez by the innkeepers, whose frequent trips to the El Morocco’s namesake country ensure that there are always new treasures for visitors to discover. There are many creature comforts as well; complimentary snacks are always available, and the inn’s high-quality linens and gourmet breakfast will not disappoint.
The Tallman Hotel, just outside of Upper Lake, is a newly restored enclave that brings modern, eco-friendly features together with the history and culture of the Eastlake region. Newly constructed garden rooms and suites surround the restored 1890’s main building, where the Tallman Hotel’s charismatic collection of avian art is housed. Pictures and paintings of birds grace the walls, stairway and ceiling of the hotel dining room; photography is encouraged. The Tallman has another collection which is as functional as it is beautiful: an extensive array of period bath fixtures, including original clawfoot tubs and elegant pedestal sinks, appoint all the guest baths. Other amenities including free wi-fi, luxurious beds and proximity to beautiful Clear Lake.
Humboldt Bay’s Carter House Inn boasts a wine collection that distinguishes the inn as a must-visit destination for oenophiles. Proprietor Mark Carter, a winemaker since 1998, has created an award-winning list that features over 3500 wines. Guests will enjoy discovering new vintages with guidance from one of Carter House’s expert sommeliers. If an outing sounds appealing, visitors can make their way to Calistoga’s Envy Wines, an estate winery that creates Carter’s own wines. Carter House guests will receive a complementary tasting with their visit to the Envy tasting room. Back at the inn, luxury appointments, private baths, and fine linens provide a soft landing.
The Groveland Hotel near Yosemite also has a special wine collection and has been the recipient of Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence distinction for the last two years. Some of the more unusual (and expensive) wines in their collection include Opus One, Joseph Phelps Insignia, Chateau Montelena, Silver Oak, and Caymus. Most of the inn’s extensive wine cellar rests against the original stone foundations of the hotel, laid in 1849 by Chinese laborers during the California Gold Rush. The walls keep the wine cellar at exactly 62 degrees year-round. The 17-room, historic hotel features featherbeds with down comforters, private baths, free WiFi/high-speed Internet access in all rooms, and a breakfast feast each morning.