Classic movies · Travel and Adventure

Enchanting Getaway: The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

All I could think of in the middle of the night was “the bent neck lady”. If you’ve seen The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix you will know what I am referring to. I stayed overnight at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, CA with my daughter this Veteran’s Day weekend. I never heard of any hauntings or scary stories about the hotel prior to our trip, except…my 15-year-old daughter’s assumption that since it’s a National Historic Landmark, it must be haunted.  Well, it wasn’t haunted. At least not from my experience.


From the moment we arrived, I noticed the city-block-size hotel stood out as a gorgeous gothic treasure among the modern downtown buildings surrounding it. This romantically enchanting, one-of-a-kind Mission-style architecture was awe-inspiring. The bougainvillea-covered archways and flying buttresses, secluded gardens, and soaring towers with intricate details in the spires and twisted columns, stone fountains and statues were breathtaking.


The California mission style bells greeted us as we walked down the entrance into the main lobby passing an outdoor restaurant and a large aviary with exotic birds and docents giving tours of this living museum. Fortunately for my daughter and I, we were headed straight to the Tuscan style Kelly Spa for our mother-daughter spa day before we officially checked in so we could take our time and relax before our treatments. The spa was very busy but still relaxing. My daughter had her first facial which did wonders for her teenage skin and I had a very relaxing massage. The pool and outdoor jacuzzi was a great way to end our spa day before checking in to our room.


There were multiple weddings going on each day we were there, which was not surprising since it has been a popular wedding destination since the 1920’s. Many famous people have been married there including Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Nixon’s and Bette Davis.  At least 6 US presidents have been guests at the hotel and stayed in the 4-room presidential suite which has been converted to the Presidential Lounge.MissionInnPresidents

History of the Hotel

Taken from the website, “The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa began as a quaint adobe boarding house in 1876, and blossomed into a full-service hotel in the early 1900s thanks to California’s economic citrus boom and warm weather, attracting wealthy travelers and investors from the East Coast and Europe. Opened by Frank Miller, The Inn expanded in 1903 with over 200 guestrooms and the addition of the Mission Wing, built in Mission-Revival style while incorporating architectural features from more than 20 different California missions. The Hotel is home to many priceless treasures and 2 on-site chapels. The Mission Inn houses the oldest bell in Christendom, dating back to 1247.” (Web )


Famous Guest List

The guest list for this hotel over the 150-year history is quite impressive. I have never before stayed at a hotel with as much famous lineage. “Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, Hoover, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr; social leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and John Muir; and entertainers including Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin” (Web) have all been guests at the hotel which touts this kind of recognition:

  • National Historic Landmark since 1977
  • State of California Historic Landmark since 1961
  • U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • Riverside Landmark #1
  • Member of prestigious Historic Hotels of America
  • “Best Historic Hotel” (201-400 Guestrooms) / Historic Hotels of America
  • “Best Historic Hotel in America” / USA Today’s Readers’ ChoiceMissionInnNightSky

During my stay, I spent much of my time exploring the hotel.  The historic hotel has a different feeling in the dark. It is enchanting at night and you can find lovers kissing under a bougainvillea covered archways lite by twinkling white lights. Inside the hotel, I was drawn to the Christmas wreaths and garlands that wrapped along the grand staircase and adorned the Tuscan style grand fireplace.


Chandeliers glowed and warmed the lobby with their reflection on the black and white checkered floor. All I could do was to capture the feeling of the place by taking a gazillion photos with my smartphone, all the while kicking myself for not bringing my Canon Rebel SL1!

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa Lobby


My daughter and I enjoyed a great meal at one of the six dining options on the premises. My daughter looooves pasta, so we ate at Bella Tratattoria and finished the evening with a decadent cupcake at Casey’s Cupcakes. We loved the cupcakes so much, we decided to bring half a dozen to our friend’s house we were visiting the next day.


Next time I stay at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa will be with my husband. It is literally one of the most romantic hotels I have ever stayed at. Many other couples seem to think so as well since it is a top pick for wedding events and couple getaways. So, even though I missed out on a visit by a famous ghost, my stay at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa was beyond pleasant; it was decidedly enchanting, luxurious and by far, my favorite hotel in California.MissionInnGarland

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