Visiting the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla
Visitors to eastern Washington often find themselves drawn to the rich viticultural tasting opportunities found in Walla Walla wine country. There are literally dozens of wineries, tasting rooms and wine bars dotting the historic downtown area. It’s a superb example of a rural agricultural community that has revitalized its downtown core through business and tourism development. And the best place to stay in Walla Walla, by far, is the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
Steeped in history, the Marcus Whitman was originally built in 1927 and it was intended to be the biggest and best hotel in the area. Nearly a hundred years later, it’s not far off the mark.
Visitors to this historic property will find that, not only is it the tallest building in Walla Walla – and therefore easy to spot from a distance – but beautifully illuminated in the evenings, adding to the feeling that you’ve made a good lodging choice. As you pull up to one of three loading areas surrounding the brick-clad building, you immediately notice the time and effort put in to maintaining the landscaping that surrounds the property.
The sounds of classic music subtly fills the air as you enter the lobby of the Marcus Whitman, recalling the era of dramatic silent movies and greatly enhancing the ambiance of your experience. Brass accoutrement is everywhere, as is the tradition of grand hotels from that time. The historic elevators, furniture, signage, and handrails present opportunities to ponder the stories of the thousands of guests who have spent a night or two within its confines.
Perhaps the most interesting historical aspect is behind the check-in counter, which features an old-fashioned bank of mail slots still in use by the hotel staff. Most hotels that still have them either find no use for them or have them removed to make room for counter space.
The lobby of the Marcus Whitman Hotel is lavishly decorated with period-style furniture, featuring overstuffed and oversized armchairs, a grand piano stained a rich walnut color, and large, elaborate area rugs that tastefully blend into the hardwood floors. Just prior to entering the lobby, however, is a brightly lit parlor area with a roaring fire, comfortable Victorian couches and giant Oriental vases. It is immediately clear that the hotel’s owners are trying to provide an oasis of luxury to the road-weary traveler.
Upon checking into the room, you’ll find that the rich décor of the main area only lightly continues into the floors above. Now, to be fair, perhaps I was given one of the more pedestrian rooms and the suites above were of much better opulence. I suppose I’ll have to upgrade to an upper floor on the next visit!
Not to say that the rooms are spartan by any means…the space is large and open, the beds are newer, clean and comfortable and the historic feel of the room certainly channels the elegance of the main level. The bathrooms are a little small, but that’s only because I’m used to newer hotels with larger bathrooms. It was by no means a deal breaker.
I highly recommend a meal in the famous restaurant, The Marc, which provides a hearty, warm breakfast for hotel guests every morning. And while I’ve had cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy at a dozen other hotels over the years – I can honestly attest that none were as good as those served at The Marc. Kudos to the Marcus Whitman for going the extra mile with the complimentary breakfast.
If you’re staying in Walla Walla for business or for pleasure, you shouldn’t even consider another property. The Marcus Whitman is rich in history, reasonably priced and ready to accommodate all of your needs in wine country.