Pack a Bag: Hotel Boulderado, Part II

for Part I…

Hotel Boulderado was the ideal place to take a eighteen hour pit stop while we were in Colorado. The hotel historian, Laurel, gave us a tour of the property and with that, copious insight on the history of the hotel.

The historic plans of the residential floors were slightly different than the floor plans of today in that they were customizable to guest budgets. For example, adjacent, semi-private (between two guest rooms) bathrooms could be unlocked and included in the overnight package or they could be locked off from the guest room. In the case of the latter, guests would use the floor communal bathroom. This is one of the ways the floor plan has been changed; these days all guest rooms have private, in-suite bathrooms and some even have living spaces and balconies.


Hotel Boulderado hosted us in one of the suites which included a balcony and living room. The layout was one that was conducive to natural light exposure, in that both the living room, bathroom, and bedroom had windows. The layout allows for a reduction in electricity by way of minimizing the need to switch on the light.

Official green initiatives of Hotel Boulderado include the following:

• Award-Winning Recycling Program
• Environmental Protection Agency certified as a WasteWise Partner
• Partners for a Clean Environment member
• TripAdvisor Green Leaf Program Silver Level
• 60% post-consumer waste recycled paper used on-property
• Monthly energy audits conducted
• Boulder Community Food Share participant

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Sincerest thanks to Hotel Boulderado for sponsoring our stay.


Pack a Bag: Hotel Boulderado, Part I

The husband and I stayed at Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado on our east bound cross country roadtrip. In the early twentieth century, citizens of the town imagined Boulder as the Athens of the west. In true Field of Dreams fashion, in order to bring tourism to Boulder, eventual shareholders collaborated to build a luxury hotel where guests would stay. You could say they the shareholders were playing the long game in that they were not particularly excited about their hotel earnings; rather shareholders with looking forward to dividends brought to Boulder via a robust tourism economy.

At the time of its establishment, words such as “Grand” and “Palace” were often incorporated in hotel names. Rather than follow the statue quo, shareholders of the hotel selected Boulderado, as it referenced its home city and state and there was not any other hotel with that name.

As with many Historic Hotels of America, this one is on the National Register of Historic Places. Per the National Register of Historic Places application for the Hotel Boulderado, the property qualifies as such under the Architecture, Community Planning and Development category, and the Entertainment / Recreation subcategory. A combination of Mission Revival and Italian Renaissance styles, the project was designed by Redding, William, & Son (the designer of much prominent Boulder architecture) and built by Geranson & Beckstrom.


A full day on the road calls for cocktails. Before our dinner at Spruce, we went to the basement bar at Hotel Boulderado, cheekily named License No. 1. Because Boulder was built in a dry county, the basement bar activities were covert from the opening of the hotel in 1909 until 1969. That year allowed alcohol licenses, of which the eventual License No. 1 bar received the first in the city. The cocktails were next level. I had the Old Fashioned and my husband drank a mezcal concoction called Mezcal Medicine.

We started the next morning with breakfast at Spruce. I pregamed roadtrip day three with a lavender mimosa and a Belgian waffle topped with fresh fruit and my husband indulged in huevos rancheros and copious mugs of coffee. Breakfasts like these make me want to make more time in mornings to sit down for a meal.


Sincerest thanks to Hotel Boulderado for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: Monterey Hotel

Until very recently, I had no idea that Spain established Monterey as the OG capital of California circa 1776. It was inevitable as Monterey’s geography boasts a bay and the town is such a central location between the baja and the alta. It was not until over 125 years after the establishment of the capital that the Monterey Hotel was established. The 1904 architecture exemplifies the Victorian style albeit within the middle of the a historic town center populated with Spanish-influenced architecture.


The stained glass, carved woodwork, plantation shutters, and architectural moldings were my favorite tangible features of the hotel, which has 69 guestrooms split between the historic wing and the contemporary wing. The FF&E (layman’s term: furnishings) of the hotel is also impressive. I was particularly into the antique valet, pictured below, of which Jamie snagged nearly as soon as we rolled in our luggage.

Jamie and I stayed in room 409, which is in the historic portion of the hotel. The suite sits on the corner of Calle Principal and West Franklin Street, offering ideal Monterey views. We could even see the Monterey Bay from the bedroom and the sitting room. Swinging open the bedroom window and plantation shutters to the mellow weather and sea breeze followed by the complimentary breakfast was the best way to begin our days.


The location of the Monterey Hotel itself makes it the optimum place to stay. It is my personal belief that one best takes in the built environment while on foot. Every location and attraction you could want to visit is accessible by foot and because Monterey is so dang beautiful, you should absolutely take advantage of the pedestrian friendly nature of the town. Through pedestrian paths and sidewalks, the following attractions are accessible by foot from the Monterey Hotel :

  • Alta Bakery and Cooper Molera Adobe – 0.2 mile walk
  • Monterey Museum of Art – 0.3 mile walk
  • Old Fisherman’s Wharf – 0.3 mile walk
  • Cannery Row – 1.1 mile walk
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium – 1.5 mile walk
  • Lover’s Point Park – 2.5 mile walk


Sincerest thanks to the Monterey Hotel for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: The Carlton

The Carlton is the ideal midpoint of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Paso Robles is underrated wine country due to its big sisters, Napa and Sonoma, located just up on the 101. This territory should not be missed; I am not lying when I say that I returned home with five bottles from the two vineyards that Jamie and I visited.

Atascadero is the idyllic town about twenty minutes south of Paso Robles and the second stop on the Friendship Road trip. The trip up from Palm Springs was picturesque, at least after passing through Los Angeles. Our stay at The Carlton was the perfect punctuation at the end of the drive.


Located within the Colony District and walkable to seemingly everything worth visiting in Atascadero, The Carlton was established in 1928 as a one story building at the corner of El Camino Real and Traffic Way. The following year brought a second floor annex, consisting of 52 guestrooms, topping the first floor of department stores. (Don’t you just love a mixed use project?) The 1930s brought a new owner, a new neon sign, and celebrity clientele. The hotel changed hands several times in the last half of the twentieth century before it was converted into a senior living complex. Eventually it became nascent until 2005 when it was restored and returned to its former glory as The Carlton.


Jamie and I had a room that opened into the center courtyard. Funny story: We unknowingly kept the French doors open but drew the curtains. Only when we woke up to especially fresh air did we realize that we each were under the impression that the other closed and locked the courtyard door. Regardless, we both felt safe on the property which is something that is of priority when I travel.

No stay at The Carlton is complete without stopping at the Back Porch Bakery. Jamie and I selected a loaf of walnut and blue cheese bread which proved to be necessary (especially for Jamie who was our designated driver) on our vineyard stops. Along with provisions from a local craft cheese and butter store, we took out the entire loaf of the artisanal bread and you know what?

We had no regrets.


Sincerest thanks to The Carlton for sponsoring our stay.

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Pack a Bag: The Monkey Tree Hotel, Part II

Jamie and I stayed at Monkey Tree Hotel in Palm Springs and I cannot wait to make the another trip back. As a preservationist, I can appreciate a storied history and the Monkey Tree Hotel has rich one. The property went through several iterations: the OG Monkey Tree Hotel phase ran from 1960 until 1988 when it switched hands and was rebranded to a men’s resort called The Legacy, the couples’ nudist resort as the Terra Cotta Hotel in 1995, and the reincarnation of the Monkey Tree Hotel in late 2015.

The Monkey Tree Hotel was kind enough to put us in the Presidential Suite. It is named for the rumored rendezvous that JFK and Marilyn Monroe had in the hotel circa 1962. Reportedly, the United States Secret Service was spotted on East Racquet Club Road outside of the private entrance to the suite, making it the ideal accommodations for a clandestine affair.

The same geographic location {away from downtown} that likely made it attractive to John and Marilyn, was one of the reasons that Jamie and I liked it. Rather than hiding an affair (only a friendship roadtrip here!), we loved the Monkey Tree Hotel for the lowkey ambiance; it is perfect for a solo or couples weekend getaway or a girls’ trip. At the same time, it was easy to get back and forth from downtown as the Lyfts are abundant and reasonably priced.

I packed my favorite vintage Lilly Pulitzer dresses for my long weekend at the midcentury gem on East Racquet Court Road. Not exactly fitting to wear the signature designer of Jackie Kennedy in the love shack of John and a mistress, but it is also the only 1960s designer I own. Dress for the decade of the accommodations you are inhabiting, amirite?

While I am in love with these two Lilly Pulitzer dresses, I have a downright obsession with shopping vintage Lilly. It is a sickness. I rounded up several 1960s-era Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses below. Note about shopping vintage: Pay attention to the measurements and if in doubt, go up a size in these frocks. The hemlines tend to be longer but the body tends to be smaller.

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Sincerest thanks to the Monkey Tree Hotel for sponsoring our stay.

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48 Hours In: Palm Springs

Perhaps it is the inevitable Coachella burnout but I get the sense that Palm Springs is underrated in the sense of cultural resources, art, and architecture. The desert town is not just flamingo floats and alcoholic beverages, although there is plenty of that, but I am so excited to share the rest of the best of Palm Springs.

No trip is complete without a trip on the aerial tramway. My initial reaction to the upwards transportation happened while Jamie and I were driving to the tram station. It blew our minds when we passed the signage to turn off the air conditioning. It did not feel as though our rental was working especially hard (especially in comparison to our days prior spent in the West Hollywood hills) but Jamie corrected me in that he felt our midsize SUV breaking a sweat.

The aerial tram holds about sixty people per car. Don’t load into one side, y’all, because the car rotates. Also there are five towers, each of which transfer the cars that run on the tracks. If you are afraid of heights, it can be uncomfortable to transfer because the car rocks back and forth. Cut to me holding onto the rail in the middle of the car.


We enjoyed our visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Art and Architecture Design Center. 10/10 recommend stopping at both. They are the ideal respite from the afternoon heat.


The built environment of Palm Springs is vastly underrated. Sure, people just looooooove midcentury modern architecture, but how many of those actually care enough to examine beyond the surface of what can be seen from the street?

I recommend taking at least one modern architecture tour. We ended up taking two: the Palm Springs Mod Squad Tour and the MidMod Design Tour. Both had their merits and as someone who has her Master’s degree in Historic Preservation, these tours were necessary. Kurt and Lyle were both authorities on the topic. Two approaches to one topic with little overlap made for exceptional learning experiences.


There is only one hotel to stay at when in Palm Springs and that would be the Monkey Tree Hotel. It was designed by the father of desert modernism and one of the pioneers in midcentury modern architecture, Albert Frey. The owners of the hotel Kathy and Gary, pivoted from careers in architecture and finance respectively, to hospitality.

Amenities of the Monkey Tree Hotel include house made breakfast (vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options are available), sangria happy hour, all day snacks and soft drinks, parking, green charging stations for electric cars, salt water pool, tethered lap pool, hot tub, sauna, and Scandinavian spa. Kathy also has a comprehensive guide to activities, architecture, and tested restaurants that was beyond helpful in planning our trip.

Right now is the ideal time to book a trip at the Monkey Tree Hotel. There are several specials running from June until September for both weekends and weeknights.


Sincerest thanks to the Monkey Tree Hotel and Visit Palm Springs for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: The Monkey Tree Hotel, Part I

Jamie and I took a friendship roadtrip from southern California destinations up to Napa. We went sideways, you could say. Our first stop on our friendship roadtrip?

A bucket list destination for both Jamie and I has always been Palm Springs. Fun fact: Jamie and I met in graduate school, where we were both at the Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. While he was in the architecture and I was in the preservation and real estate development programs, it took a second for our paths to cross but thanks to my social nature, it would not be soon before long.


It was fate that brought us to the Monkey Tree Hotel, a sixteen guestroom boutique hotel established in 1960 and designed by the father of desert modernism, Albert Frey. After checking in I read about the hotel’s history, which included a brief bio of the owners. I was so jazzed to learn that the wife of the husband-wife ownership team also went to school for architecture and worked for Gensler. The grind and the monotony of the eight-to-five (but realistically twelve hour days) that are of the norm to the fields of architecture and finance, drove Kathy and her husband Gary to leave their New York City routines for a change of pace in Palm Springs, and purchased the Monkey Tree Hotel in 2015.

Kathy’s background in architecture informed their decision to procure the Monkey Tree Hotel but it was the location and history of the hotel that directed the renovation; as a preservationist with a pragmatic point of view, I appreciate the hospitality model to preservation but particularly their approach that bypassed purchasing sixteen sets of West Elm furniture in favor of curating pieces that are true to the OG era and salvaging and refurbishing pieces that are original to the property. For instance, the vivid yellow lounge furniture at the pool and courtyard are original Brown Jordan pieces circa the 1970s era of the hotel.


Aside from authentically furnishing the hotel, the time constraints were the biggest challenge in renovating the hotel. The Monkey Tree Hotel has a storied timeline which includes rebranding in the 1980s and 1990s to the Legacy Hotel and the Terra Cotta respectively. The latter of which was a – are you sitting down? – nudist resort! Kathy and Gary officially purchased the property in December 2015, effectively establishing it as a clothing mandatory establishment, and concluded renovation in February 2016, just in time for a soft opening for Palm Springs Modernism Week.

Kathy and Gary acted as the general contractor on the project, but the majority of the renovation was cosmetic: paint, landscape, FF&E (furniture for the uninitiated to the built environment), commercial kitchen, and a Scandinavian spa. The FF&E included architecture books in the breakfast nook bookcase which largely came from that of Kathy’s collection from graduate school. I was confident that the Monkey Tree Hotel was the real deal upon check in, but it was when I spotted two books that were required reading for the History of Modern Architecture at the University of Maryland as taught by Dr. Richard Etlin, that cemented the Monkey Tree Hotel as my go-to as my Palm Springs accommodations going forward.


Sincerest thanks to the Monkey Tree Hotel for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: Hotel Congress, Part II

part one…

While we were at Hotel Congress, we indulged in adult beverage aplenty, some delicious food, and streamlined but comfortable accommodations. I loved that in keeping with the historic quality of the hotel, the guestrooms are not equipped with televisions. This kept us out of the room and out and about. The measure undoubtedly reduces electricity thus contributes to the Hotel Congress Sustainability Champion nomination for the 2018 Historic Hotels Annual Awards in Excellence.


Was it the third consecutive stop on our margarita tour of the southwest 2018? Confirmed. The beverages at the Hotel Congress Lobby Bar were just delicious and to say that I overindulged in margaritas at the would be an understatement. The absence of a television made it easier to catch up of rest and easing my subsequent margarita fever. Some people call it a hangover. Three beverages were my threshold.

Cup Cafe is another one of the food and drink establishments at Hotel Congress. Dinner started with Kung Pao Calamari and for me, ended with Niçoise Salad. After a diet of pasta and grits and breaded in the preceding days and minutes before my main was served, the green stuff was good stuff.

Dinner was delicious but breakfast is when Cup Cafe really shines. I loved the Trout Benedict and the Cup Cafe team listened and delivered when I asked for extra crispy bacon. My husband was experiencing indecision with his breakfast; he was considered the Chilaquiles Verde and the Braveheart (a dish with smoked beef brisket, sourdough, grilled tomatoes, sautéed spinach, gruyère cheese, two poached eggs, sausage gravy, and hotel potatoes). With help from the waitress, I encouraged him to order the latter as it was so unique and he has had chilaquiles before. He followed up his savory breakfast with a slice of blueberry pie. Who orders pie for breakfast?

My husband.


Sincerest thanks to Hotel Congress for sponsoring our stay.

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Pack a Bag: Hotel Congress, Part I

The sixth night of our cross country road trip brought my husband and me to Tucson, Arizona, specifically the Hotel Congress. The Hotel Congress is not only listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but is also a Historic Hotel of America. It was nominated for two of the categories of the Historic Hotels of America 2018 Awards of Excellence: Sustainability Champion and Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year for the Oseran family, the third owners of the property, who were instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Tucson.

The Applicable National Register Criteria for this property is both the first, or A, and the third, or C. The former being Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history and the latter being Property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.

The Congress Realty Company, the ownership team, leveraged the selected parcel as it was close to the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. The National Register application interprets this to tie into criteria A, as the site selection influenced the urban planning, design, and development of Tucson.

Contributing to criteria C, the Hotel Congress was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by William Curlett and Sons Architects in 1919. A 1934 fire by the Dillinger Gang damaged a portion of the third floor which was never rebuilt, effectively eliminating twenty guest rooms.

In addition to the historic designations of Hotel Congress, the street for which it is named was selected as one of the American Planning Association’s fifteen Great Places in 2017 in the Streets category.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Congress for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: The Hotel Paisano, Part II

In addition to guestrooms, meeting and ballroom spaces, a heated pool, and commercial space, Hotel Paisano is also home to Jett’s Grill. Jett’s Grill has the most phenomenal margaritas in Marfa, and I know margaritas.

Making reservations is essential. While we waited for our table time at the bar and enjoyed a few margaritas and shrimp nachos as the antidote to a long day on the road, my husband and I witnessed Jett’s Grill absolutely fill up. Nevertheless, even had we not made reservations, the time spent waiting for a table would have been worth it because the food was fantastic.

I ate the bacon penne with shrimp and my husband ordered the pistachio fried steak with asparagus, which is a Jett’s Grill classic dish. While I was nearly full from the margs and the nachos earlier at the bar, I found the space to polish off my pasta dish.

Jett’s Grill is open for breakfast burritos from 7:30 to 10 am and the restaurant reopens for late lunch at 2 pm. Dinner service commences at 5 pm.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Paisano for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: The Hotel Paisano, Part I

The Hotel Paisano is a prime example of a historic property hospitality success story. This National Register of Historic Places hotel was designed in 1928 by storied architectural and structural engineering El Paso-based firm, Trost & Trost and exemplifies Spanish Revival style as defined by the red stucco roof, arches, and stucco finishes. It concluded construction and subsequently opened in 1930.

The cast and crew of the film Giant stayed at the Hotel Paisano and several of the suites are named for the celebrities who stayed there: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Deen, and Dennis Hopper. Framed black and white vintage photographs featuring behind the scenes of Giant are hung throughout the corridors of the hotel.

Previously known as El Paisano, the Hotel Paisano is listed in the Texas state inventory of historic places in addition to being listed in the National Register. While the criteria is not explicitly stated in the El Paisano application to the National Register of Historic Places, the statement of significance leads me to believe that it was listed under the third criterion, or C. The application details the midwestern architectural influence on Ohioan Trost’s work in the southwest, merging the Prairie style with regional southwestern styles.

The Hotel Paisano was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978; however, the late 1970s brought a change in the use as the then-65 hotel rooms were converted into nine condominiums for time share use. Eventually the time share model went dormant, the hotel fell into disrepair, and tax issues imposed foreclosure by the county. The current owners acquired the property in 2001 and rehabilitated the project. Currently, the Hotel Paisano has 41 rooms and additional suites and historic rooms, a heated pool, ground floor commercial space, meeting and ballroom space, Jett’s Grill which is home to the best margarita in Marfa.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Paisano for sponsoring our stay.

Pack a Bag: The Stagecoach Inn, Part II

The Stagecoach Inn has one of the choice restaurants in Salado, Texas. While we enjoyed margaritas and appetizers at Alexander’s Craft Cocktail Lounge, we ate all of our meals on site and I would not have had it any other way.sDSC08190While the Stagecoach Inn was established in 1861, the restaurant was not established until 1943, when the property came under ownership of Dion and Ruth Van Bibber. While Mr. Van exemplified hospitality, Mrs. Van built a name for the Stagecoach Inn restaurant. Several of the dishes that Mrs. Van originated have been brought back to the menu, such as the hush puppies, tomato aspic, banana fritters, and signature dessert, Strawberry Kiss.

Mrs. Van’s approach to the restaurant made it the central Texas dining destination. The Stagecoach Inn restaurant received extensive media coverage, as it was featured in midcentury isues of Life Magazine, Ford Times, and Time. It also appeared in traveling salesman and future purveyor of cake mix, Duncan Hines’ list of restaurants. Who knew that Duncan Hines also produced a restaurant guide akin to Michelin?

For dinner, we indulged in cast iron pimento cheese, shrimp and bacon cheddar grits, and blacked catfish with black eyed peas and kale. Some might (all should) consider me a margarita connoisseur, and the Lot 10 Hibiscus Margarita surpassed all expectations. Not only is the food fantastic, but the ambiance of the restaurant and the hospitality of the staff is phenomenal. Fireplaces warm the restaurant after nightfall and the staff is so knowledgeable not only about the menu but also Stagecoach Inn lore.sDSC08200Breakfast was everything. I ate extra crispy bacon and French toast, complete with fruit compote, sweet cream, and syrup. My husband ordered biscuits and gravy with Andouille sausage and eggs. Several cups of coffee each and we were back on the road.

Sincerest thanks to the Stagecoach Inn for sponsoring my stay.