Historical Hotel with Victorian Charm and Spa Relaxation
In Renaissance Europe, naturalists and royals assembled cabinets of curiosity—rooms filled with collections of taxidermied animals, exotic seashells, shiny minerals, and other trinkets. The two-story lobby of the Ashland Springs Hotel re-creates this old-fashioned pastime by bringing the wonders of the surrounding area into its own cabinets, which display preserved bird and insect specimens. A Victorian feel permeates the hotel—from the flattened herbs hanging in guest rooms to the wrought-iron gazebo standing in the garden outside.
Similarly, the hotel's Waterstone Spa draws upon a local tradition. In the early 1900s, Ashland's natural, lithium-infused springs were celebrated for their therapeutic qualities. Today, the resort's hydrotherapy treatments include interludes in the sauna and the Japanese ofuro soaking tub, which can smooth rough soles and preserve leftover steaks thanks to salts imported from the Dead Sea.
Deluxe-view king rooms continue the pampering with a lavender bath sachet waiting on a goose-down quilt. Painted furniture, botanical-print fabrics, and paper lampshades bearing leaf imprints add to the Old-World charm. While tasting the included chocolates and wine, you can take in views of Grizzly Peak and downtown Ashland.
In the morning, a complimentary breakfast awaits on the mezzanine balcony. Later in the day, chefs at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine transform ingredients from local farms into hearty dishes such as a pot roast made with grass-fed beef ($25) and steelhead trout with lemon-spinach spaetzle ($24).
Ashland, Oregon: Rogue Valley Wilderness and Vibrant Theater Scene
The 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail links Ashland with the Klamath National Forest to the south and the Umpqua National Forest to the north. At the former, located about an hour's drive away, you can spend the day hiking, whitewater rafting, and panning for the shining gold flakes that still swirl down the Klamath River. Although it’s a bit farther away, most consider Umpqua National Forest worth the trip, since it includes Crater Lake National Park, which features a bright-blue lake formed from a volcanic caldera.
Closer to the hotel, the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs from February to November, gracing area theaters with the Bard’s tragedies, comedies, histories, romances, and blank-verse poetry slams. Backstage tours and special student matinees can deepen your appreciation of a production, but reserve your tickets for performances and special events early—many of the festival's offerings sell out well in advance.