Sometimes, the best travel destination is close to home. The Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane is one shining example. With the elegance and sophistication of an earlier era, this “reincarnated” showpiece offers an escape from everyday life, in a pampered setting with European influence.
About a three-hour drive from Yakima, the Historic Davenport (so named because it’s the original of four Davenport hotels in the city), offers just about anything you might want in a great weekend away.
From beautiful architectural detail to comfortable rooms, fine dining and full spa and fitness facilities, the Davenport is a welcoming oasis in this friendly city.
Built in 1914, the Historic Davenport was in decline until 2000, when the entire block on which the hotel is situated was purchased by Walt and Karen Worthy, who remodeled the hotel at a cost of around $38 million. In fall of 2002, the grand establishment reopened, complete with new wiring, plumbing, furniture and the impressive restoration of many special features.
Driving up to the stately brick and stone hotel, past a large fountain and spiral-shaped bushes, you immediately know you’re in for a special experience. Valets are available to assist with parking. Walking into the massive lobby, you enter a haven with comfortable seating, an enticing fireplace, and a picturesque fountain, set below a full balcony with ornate metal railings and ceiling skylights. A florist shop displays lavish arrangements of colorful, fresh flowers.
Room choices begin with a standard room for one person, with poster bed, marble bathroom, large windows and a city view at a price of $120 to $240 per night, according to hotel staff. Suites also have poster beds and may include a soaking tub in the marble bathroom, separate living space with couch, wet bar, and a desirable location such as a corner of the building or top floor, for $250-plus. Prices depend upon seasonal availability, with discounts offered for AAA and AARP members, as well as military or government personnel.
Once you’ve checked in to the hotel, it’s fun to just wander around and take in the one-of-a-kind features of this National Historic Register site. There’s the Peacock Lounge, adjacent to the lobby, with its huge, stained-glass peacock adorning the ceiling. The ornate lobby fireplace, which now operates on natural gas, is edged in glittering gold leaf. And then there’s perhaps my favorite feature, the large Hall of The Doges. It was once known as the “flying ballroom,” since it was lifted out intact by crane from its original spot in the hotel and relocated to its present location on the second floor during the remodel. With a Venetian influence, the ballroom is an architectural masterpiece with ornate arches, an intricate woodwork design reaching up to the graceful balcony, and a ceiling mural featuring angels floating in a blue sky. Since you can apparently never have enough ballrooms, there is also the 4,300-square-foot Marie Antoinette Ballroom, with glowing chandeliers and a balcony; and the Isabella Ballroom, all in pastel pink with hand-painted moldings and a marble floor, where the hotel’s signature Sunday brunch is served.
Highlights of the hotel’s proud history are interwoven throughout the building’s decor. In the lobby, there is a life-size cardboard cutout of John Reed, who served as a doorman for the Davenport for 75 years prior to his recent death. Reed’s suit jacket and top hat are displayed on the second floor in a glass case. Old photos and other artifacts such as silverware and dishes from earlier days at the hotel can be viewed nearby. And Bing Crosby, arguably Spokane’s most famous resident, is honored with an assortment of memorabilia.
More modern features of the hotel include a full-service spa, salt water pool, fitness center and lobby espresso bar. The spa offers many standard services plus more exotic-sounding offerings, such as a “warm spiced mud wrap,” “ultimate foot rejuvenation” and “lavender & seaweed sugar glow.” The salt water of the pool is designed to be easier on guests’ skin than standard chlorinated water.
Of course, the Historic Davenport also takes pride in its culinary offerings. There’s fine dining in the Palm Court Grill, just off the lobby, with a selection of seafood and steaks. One specialty of the house is the Crab Louis, which was reportedly invented here, in honor of hotel founder, Louis Davenport. (A bronze statue of Davenport, seated on a bench and keeping watch over the lobby as he looks out over a newspaper, is located near the registration desk.) The espresso bar offers quick refreshments. The Davenport is also known for its trademark soft peanut brittle, sold on the premises.
For a wider variety of dining choices, the hotel staff may refer guests to one of the other three Davenport hotels, all within a radius of about six blocks. The Tower Hotel, built in 2008 with a jungle motif, features the Safari Room, which, for some reason, specializes in Southern cuisine such as pulled pork and baby back ribs. The Lusso Davenport, which was purchased and renovated in 2002, is a boutique-style hotel which features the more casual Post Street Ale House. And the Grand Hotel, a modern structure with sleek red, white and black décor, offers Table 13, a tapas-style restaurant. Other restaurants may be found while walking through the neighborhood or visiting the Riverfront Park Square mall, a few minutes away from the Historic Davenport.
The Historic Davenport mission statement urges staff to be so accommodating to guests that they “are glad they came, sorry to leave, and eager to return.” In my case, I’m already thinking about my next visit.