Old Glory

Old Glory

written by

The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City and Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley feature refined elegance and historic charm, along with delectable food and drink.

Unwind from the grind and take a trip to the captivating Gold Rush towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley, just an hour and a half from Reno. Better yet, treat yourself to a stay at The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City or Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley.

The exterior of The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves

The hotels are both steeped in history and owned by the same group, Acme Hospitality in Santa Barbara, but possess different souls. The Holbrooke, housed in a building constructed in 1852 (rebuilt in 1855 and 1862 after two separate fires), was meticulously restored over a year and a half and reopened in November 2020. The National Exchange Hotel, opened in 1856, took three years of full-scale refurbishment and welcomed guests in May of this year. The result of the renovations is luxurious accommodations with furnishings and interior design that are a brilliant mix of old and new. The hotels’ characters have not been discarded or tarnished; they were lovingly reimagined with modern accents and conversation-worthy antiques (mainly from the mid-1800s to 1910). Treasure hunting for these properties must have been a jovial delight.

A lobby seating area at Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley. Photo by Kat Alves

We began our trip at the Holbrooke. Walking through the door, we were greeted by the Golden Gate Saloon with its showy antique back bar and cushy stools. Belly up to the bar for classic and seasonal cocktails as well as regional and international wines and a selection of beers. Some nights even include live music.

The Golden Gate Saloon inside Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley. Photo by Kat Alves

The quaint adjoining restaurant is filled with taxidermy, historic prints and oil paintings, and a cozy woodburning fireplace.

The Golden Gate Saloon’s restaurant inside Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley. Photo by Kat Alves

You’ll find a pretty patio out back for dining and imbibing, complete with heaters to cut the chill. And don’t miss a visit to the hotel’s speakeasy, where you can check out its iron door namesake that, in days of yore, led to mining tunnels.

The dinner menu is an eclectic mix of Hispanic specialties such as birria, hominy, refried heirloom beans with cotija, smoked half chicken adobado with chorizo-spiced potatoes and roasted corn, and chicharrones. You’ll also discover whole fried branzino, skirt steak, and interesting salads. Lunch includes elevated tacos, burgers, and starters, and brunch features chorizo and potatoes, cornmeal pancakes, and chilaquiles.

Breakfast at Holbrooke Hotel includes two poached farm eggs, fingerling potatoes, house-made chorizo, crema Mexicana, and queso fresco. Photo by Jaci Goodman
Dinner at the Holbrooke features an eight-ounce waygu skirt steak with potato purée and bone marrow salsa verde. Photo by Jaci Goodman

The romantic guest rooms (some lined with weathered red bricks and others painted white) are generously sized with ample space to spread out. Some rooms feature secondary sitting areas and verandas.

A guest room at Holbrooke Hotel. Photo by Kat Alves
A guest room at Holbrooke Hotel. Photo by Kat Alves

We continued our getaway at The National Exchange Hotel, which offers a magnificent design that feels appropriate to its original era, from door hardware to ceiling height. It doesn’t feel remodeled. For instance, the staircase may be crooked, but it’s charmingly so. The hotel’s architectural integrity is maintained throughout.

The attention to detail is impressive, from flashy furnishings (such as the enormous gold velvet sectional couch in the second-floor guest lounge) to landscape paintings, haunting black-and-white portraits, and artifacts that give a nod to the Victorian era’s opulent styles. Each room is adorned with an alluring blend of modern and antique appointments that are anything but cookie cutter. At every turn, a remarkable piece elicits a comment or there’s luxe wallpaper you wish you had in your powder room at home.

The staircase leading up to guest rooms at The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves
A statement couch in the grand guest lounge at The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves

Perched on a stool sipping a well-balanced cocktail in The National Bar, I felt transported to Paris in the roaring ’20s.

The National Bar in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves
The National Bar in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves
A cocktail in The National Bar in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves

The Parisian feeling continues in the bistro, Lola, with its noteworthy light fixtures and banquettes.

Lola in The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves

Lola’s cuisine is fresh, thoughtful, and refined, from dinner choices of walnut pâté (a must order!), radishes and butter appetizer, and oysters to coq au vin blanc, cabbage cassoulet and red kuri squash (two plant-based mains!), and halibut with black lentils and sprouting cauliflower. Brunch features croque madame, short rib hash, and benedict on brioche. Another mustn’t miss treat are the cakelike scones, made in house and served with sweet and tangy lemon curd.

Walnut pâté at Lola in The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Jaci Goodman
The halibut at Lola in The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Jaci Goodman

The grand guest rooms are dripping with seductive glamour.

A guest room at The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City. Photo by Kat Alves

Grass Valley and Nevada City offer entertaining shopping, including boutiques brimming with curated vintage clothing, soaps and scrubs, books and music, jewelry, mystical crystals, handmade art, environmentally friendly wares, world crafts, and holistic healing remedies. You’ll find your trip was rewarded not only by the stunning hotels but also by the enchanting mix of historic architecture and the local shops’ bohemian vibe.

Can’t find a dogsitter? The hotels welcome well-behaved pets.

Ready to plan your trip? For details, visit Thenationalexchangehotel.com and Holbrooke.com.

 

Amanda Burden is editor and publisher of edible Reno-Tahoe and can’t wait to return to The National and Holbrooke.

Latest

Related Stories

No data was found

Stay updated with our Newsletter

Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.

Contact Us

edible Reno-Tahoe
316 California Ave., No. 258,
Reno, NV 89509.
(775) 746 3299

Stay updated with our Newsletter

Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.