Historic Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley set to reopen this fall

The historic ​Holbrooke Hotel has stood as a landmark along Grass Valley’s Main Street since 1862, serving as a reminder of the city’s colorful origins as a gold mining boom town. Set to reopen this fall following a painstaking renovation led by a team of local designers, craftsmen, and builders, the Holbrooke is being transformed into a true icon of California history and hospitality.

Upon reopening, the 28-room Holbrooke will bring an elevated and timeless guest experience to the Sierra Nevada region, which is famous for its charming small towns, beautiful scenery and abundant outdoor adventures.

Throughout its history, the Holbrooke has seen it all: gambling and gun fights, fortunes made and lost, five U.S. presidents, and maybe even a haunting or two. In keeping with its status as one of California’s oldest hotels, every effort has been made to honor the original spirit of the hotel, which has hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Ulysses S Grant, and Lola Montez.

“I am so proud of the passion and dedication our team has put into restoring the Holbrooke. I believe that the finished product will be a source of great pride for the local community while welcoming a new generation of visitors to experience the beauty of Nevada County.” said Sherry Villanueva, managing partner of ​Acme Hospitality​, which has spearheaded the renovation and will operate the hotel.

During the transformation of the Holbrooke — which has been more than two years in the making — the project team, helmed by lead designer Anne L’Esperance, uncovered and restored countless details that had been neglected during the hotel’s long history, including vintage lighting fixtures and underground tunnels used for transporting gold through town.

The first floor – including the lobby, bar and restaurant space – is accentuated by refinished stone and brickwork, hardwood flooring, and a fresh white paint palette on the walls. The original bar has been restored while maintaining its original character and the restaurant will open onto a fully redone outdoor patio featuring an outdoor fire pit.

A lobby-adjacent event space, ideal for hosting wedding banquets and corporate meetings, has a bright and airy new feel thanks to the use of white-washed brick and a neutral color scheme.

On the second floor, home to the main hotel’s 17 guest rooms, guests are greeted by a captivating hand-painted mural created by local artists Sarah Coleman and Brianna French featuring native flora. The guest rooms have been completely redone from top to bottom and feature a masculine yet inviting design theme consisting of white walls, rich wood furnishings, and top-of-the-line new bedding including pillow-top mattresses and premium linens.

Many of the bathrooms feature restored claw-foot tubs that were original to the property, while others offer new white-tiled walk-in showers accented with period-appropriate brass plumbing fixtures. The adjacent 11-room Purcell House, which sits on a corner of the property, is also being restored and will offer an ideal experience for groups wishing to stay together under one roof.

The National Exchange to reopen later this year

The same team working on the restoration of the Holbrooke is also renovating the nearby ​National Exchange Hotel, another historic gem located in nearby Nevada City. The National Exchange is expected to reopen in late 2020.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the reopening of this grand hotel in Grass Valley,” said Michael Barber, general manager of the Holbrooke Hotel. “This historic landmark has been a central part of the Grass Valley community for more than a century and half, and we cannot wait to welcome guests with a new, elevated experience throughout the hotel.”

The Holbrooke is home to the Golden Gate Saloon, originally constructed in 1852 and the longest continually running watering hole west of the Mississippi. Now helmed by Chef Zachary Ahrenholtz, the Golden Gate will reopen offering a new look and a new menu inspired by the early days of California, with an emphasis on smoked meats and Mexican-style accompaniments. A speakeasy called the Iron Door will open in the basement of the hotel and offer custom-crafted cocktails.

The Holbrooke will serve as a setting for social gatherings, weddings and events. The hotel’s primary event space, the North Star Room, can accommodate up to 90 guests. The space features original exposed brick and lots of natural light. The outdoor patio can accommodate gatherings of up to 100 people.

Historic Grass Valley

Located about a two-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area and just an hour from Sacramento, Grass Valley offers a timeless taste of the Gold Rush era, with a wealth of visitor attractions that include a vibrant arts scene, a dynamic range of dining options and world-class outdoor adventures. Grass Valley’s charming and walkable downtown features boutiques, galleries, restaurants and live music/events spaces that host a year-round slate of festivals celebrating film, music, cars and more.

Just an hour from Lake Tahoe and situated near the Yuba River, Grass Valley is in close proximity to some of California’s most spectacular scenery and outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, rafting and skiing. Visitor information is available at ​gonevadacounty.com​ and ​grassvalleychamber.com​.

—Andy Keown, TheKeownCo.com

(Photo: Kat Alves)

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