Riverside, Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
By Arrissia Owen
Why You Must Go: You can easily spend three days inside the walls of this Euro-centric hotel without losing your ass at the gas pump! It beats dealing with subpar airline food and three-hour layovers any sweltering Inland day. Between the hotel’s four restaurants—including four-star Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood if you’re feeling uber-fancy—you can start out with a café breakfast in the garden at Mission Inn Restaurant, eat at Mexican eatery Las Campanas on the Spanish patio, and finish it off with their new Italian eatery Bella Trattoria. Between stuffing yourself, visit Kelly’s Spa, with beauty and health treatments handpicked by the female half of the ownership—from the Neroli and Mandarin Body Polish to the Fountain of Youth Signature Facial to a spray on tan, you’ll look like you were in the Bahamas. Looking for some culture? No need to jet off to Paris, Barcelona or Shanghai. Around the maze of courtyards, terraces, balconies, patios and winding stairways awaits pieces of the hotel’s world-class collection of artifacts that, dating back to its inception in 1876, could rival that of the Smithsonian. There’s a Centennial piano in the lobby, made by Steinway in 1875, that’s still in playing condition, plus the oldest dated bell in Christendom (AD 1247!), the latter which original owner Frank Miller got for about $25 from a very persnickety shopkeeper in England (who was not pleased upon realizing what he let go).
The rooms themselves will have you looking around for a nunnery—the biggest misconception is that the Mission Inn actually was at one time a mission. Nah. Be sure to finish the day at the Presidential Lounge, which sits in the room where President Theodore Roosevelt once slept and where President Richard Nixon wed Pat. Now you can order a raspberry crème brulee martini without having to think over any world affairs other than whether to switch from Russian vodka to Mexican tequila.
The Mission Inn, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, (800) 843-7755, www.missioninn.com. Rooms from $215-$2,000, reservations by phone or by visiting the web site; 239 guest rooms and 32 suites
Where to eat: If you must venture out beyond the Inn, hit up Mario’s Place, directly across Mission Inn Avenue, where chef Leone Palagi’s squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese will melt in your mouth.
What Else to Check out: A block away sits UC Riverside’s ARTSblock Sweeney Art Gallery, the Museum of Photography and soon-to-open Culver Center of the Arts.
–Arrissia Owen Turner