Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vintage-Inspired Vacations: The Ashland Mountain House

One of my favorite recent vacations was a trip to Ashland and Jacksonville in beautiful Southern Oregon. Our non-backpacking vacations are heavily influenced by my interest in local history and culture. I love the ambiance of small historic towns.

I’m also a bed & breakfast kinda girl. I like staying in old houses and being part of the neighborhood for a short while. It’s homier that way. I enjoy waking in a space that feels like it could be my own bedroom and coming down for breakfast, greeted by fabulous kitchen smells and friendly good-morning faces.

However, I will confess that being a historic preservationist by day means I have high standards for my historic B&Bs. I’ve been disappointed on more than one occasion to find that a so-called historic inn was extensively remodeled on the interior to look and function more like a standard hotel – cookie-cutter bathrooms, generic polyester bedspreads, and uninspired art. So when E and I toured the Ashland Mountain House for the first time, it felt like a homecoming.

Where do I begin with this wonderful place?

Historically an important stagecoach stop along the California/Oregon Trail, this house can boast the distinction of being the oldest building standing in Southern Oregon. In 2003, the owners—John and Kathy Loram—undertook a major restoration project, bringing the building back to its former glory, while transforming it into a comfortable three-bedroom inn.

One of the things that I love about this place, is that it is so tastefully decorated with antiques. Kathy has an amazing eye and did a wonderful job making the rooms feel beautiful and special without being overly pretentious or cutsie. In addition to the beautiful furniture and artwork, there is an attention to detail that is so appreciated – such as the high thread-count sheets, down pillows, and fresh flowers on the nightstand.

I could rave on and on about Kathy’s delicious breakfasts, the adorable resident Jack Russell Terrier named Teddy, and the idyllic country setting on six rolling acres. Of course, if Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival are your ultimate destination, you will have a ten minute+ drive into town from the Mountain House. For us, giving up pedestrian accessibility was worth it for the comforts of home (and a few luxuries) that our little inn afforded us.

Should you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods and looking for a chance to step back in time, I heartily recommend a stay at the Mountain House. Ashland itself is a charming and culturally rich small town, with many wonderful restaurants, parks, and shops. One of my all-time favorite antique stores in on Main Street, the entrance tucked off a little alley. I wish I could remember the name for you.

Nearby Jacksonville is also worth a stop. The entire commercial district is designated a National Landmark. I’m not sure you’ll find a more charming small town in the Pacific Northwest. The picturesque buildings and pretty cottage gardens make for a photographers playground.

Good times to be had in Southern Oregon!