Historical Hotel with Victorian-Inspired Charm and Spa Relaxation
In Renaissance Europe, naturalists and royals exhibited their worldliness by building cabinets of curiosity—small rooms or compartments decorated with taxidermic animals, exotic seashells, shiny minerals, and other trinkets. The lobby of the Ashland Springs Hotel pays homage to this old-fashioned hobby by bringing the wonders of the surrounding area into its own cabinets, which are decked with exhibits of 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.
In the early 1900s, Ashland's natural, lithium-infused springs were celebrated for their therapeutic reputation. Today, the hotel's Waterstone Spa & Salon continues the salubrious tradition through hydrotherapy treatments. Interludes in the sauna draw out tension from taut muscles. Within the two-person duet suite, the Japanese ofuro soaking tub can smoothen rough soles and preserve leftover steaks thanks to its salts imported from the Dead Sea.
Deluxe-view king rooms continue the pampering process with a lavender bath sachet waiting on a comfy goose-down quilt. Botanical-print fabrics cover the king bed, and leaf imprints pockmark the paper lampshades. Between tastes of the included chocolates and champagne, lodgers can take in views of Grizzly Peak and downtown Ashland.
As morning sunshine highlights the crest of each neighboring hill, a continental breakfast spread awaits on the mezzanine balcony. Later in the day, chefs at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine transform ingredients from local farms into dishes such as the Kobe burger with Tillamook cheddar ($10.50 for lunch) and the cedar-plank-roasted Pacific Northwest steelhead with lemon-spinach spaetzle ($24 for dinner).
Ashland: Rogue River Valley Wilderness and Wineries
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. The former, about an hour's drive, boasts cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing as well as skijoring, a sport in which skiers are pulled by dogs, horses, or even snowmobiles. Although it’s a bit farther away, Umpqua National Forest hosts Crater Lake National Park, a bright-blue lake formed from a volcanic caldera.
Closer to the hotel, numerous Rogue Valley wineries cork award-winning vintages. Starting around late February, the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival graces area theaters with the Bard’s famous ruffled collars and soliloquies narrated by donkeys.