My husband and I try to get away every quarter or so for some quality couple’s time. With a 2 and 4 year-old at home, finding alone time is challenging. I know many of you can relate. But we try to make it a priority – not only for our sake, but for the sake of our kids. Happy parents = happy kids. A simple, tried and true formula.
Although Todd and I try to get out on regular dates, going away for a weekend a few times a year is a wonderful way to rejuvenate a marriage relationship. Just being able to spend an extended period of time together without the chaos and screaming that accompanies Terrible Twos and Ferocious Fours does wonders for us. I’m always amazed to realize (and re-realize) how I had forgotten what peace, calm, and quiet feel like! Can you relate? And so that time away, just the two of us, is a fabulous breath of fresh air. Time to laugh, talk, eat, see some sites, relax… And once we’ve had a couple of days to reconnect and re-energize, we’re always ready to go back home and snuggle with our little ones and face head-on the challenges (and joys) that accompany parenthood.
For our most recent getaway, we drove down to Hood River, Oregon to enjoy the Spring scenery and stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Come take a look!
We were able to spend some time in the Multnomah and Hood River Counties – the area is simply breathtaking. We spent some time taking in the landscape before heading to the hotel. One of our stops was to the Vista House. It was completed in 1918 as an observatory and rest stop, and stands as a memorial to the early Oregon pioneers. It sits on top of Crown Point and has beautiful, expansive views of the Columbia River.
As you continue along the drive from the Vista House you’ll run into a series of waterfalls. The most famous of them: Multnomah Falls. At 620 feet, it’s the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.
Another 30 minutes from the waterfall is the town of Hood River, Oregon. Hood River County features several award-winning golf courses, multiple wineries you can tour, a variety of galleries and boutiques, and a multitude of outdoor activities. And it’s the location of our final destination, the Columbia Gorge Hotel.
A historic landmark, the site for Columbia Gorge Hotel was developed in 1904 and the taken over by Simon Benson in 1920. Benson was one of the primary figures in the completion of the famous Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, which at the time was considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful road. Benson wanted to build a stately hotel at the end of this road for its travelers. He had an eye for detail and hired Italian stone masons to add some elegant touches. It was only a short time after the hotel opened that it acquired an international reputation and many notables came to stay, including Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge, actresses Jane Powell and Myrna Loy, as well as Rudolph Valentino and Clark Gable.
The grounds are immaculately manicured and a popular setting for weddings. During the Winter the hotel puts on a dazzling display of over 500,000 white lights, the kickoff being the Festival of Lights on December 1st. As beautiful as the grounds are, I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be when it’s set aglow with the Columbia River as a backdrop. We’ve got our calendars marked for that event.
On the hotel’s grounds you’ll find several romantic footbridges hovering over the flowing waters, swing benches, and there is no limit to the inglenooks and secluded seating areas you’ll find that are perfect for that quiet alone time together or relaxing with a good book. Take a walk behind the hotel and rest your arms on the stone walls to take in the majesty of the Columbia River and watch the Wah Gwin Gwin Falls cascade 208 feet down to the river below.
I’ve always been an avid reader of the classics. Years ago in my early 20’s I decided to focus on F. Scott Fitzgerald and read through several of his novels. Walking from room to room in the Columbia Gorge Hotel, scenes from This Side of Paradise, Tender Is The Night, and The Great Gatsby came to life and in my mind’s eye I could visualize the characters walking down the foyer, sitting on the sofas, dining at the tables, dancing in the ballroom. I pictured Gatsby walking over to the shiny baby grand in the lounge and twinkling a few keys.
I love that the Columbia Gorge Hotel has stayed true to its original character. Staying here was like being transported back in time. The high recessed ceilings, the crown moldings, the antique furnishings and paintings, the old-fashioned chandeliers and light fixtures (the one of the top right immediately caught my eye as we were walking up the stairs to our room. Quietly hanging from the ceiling in one of the many hallways, the scenes it has witnessed, the many thousands of people who have passed under it through the decades…). Everything period-correct. The hotel even has its original manually-operated elevator with the bellhop waiting to escort you for a ride.
The Columbia Gorge Hotel has 39 guest rooms. Some of them overlook the Columbia River and others overlook the gardens. The hotel surprised us with a unique room – a corner room that overlooked both! It was a comfortable room with a fireplace for ambiance and breathtaking views. And the shower head – ginormous! One of the best showers I’ve had in a while. And for those who enjoy being pampered, there is an on-site spa to meet all your needs.
As we moved through the foyer towards the hotel’s lounge we were met by the musical strains of Ella Fitzgerald. Todd and I have always been Ella fans and this made us feel right at home. We really enjoyed the nostalgic touch the music added to the atmosphere.
Downstairs the ballroom was being prepped for a wedding. I wondered if maybe Rudolph Valentino had danced a few moves here back in the day when he was guest.
The elegant main entrance and foyer.
After enjoying some time outside walking the grounds, it was time for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Simon’s Cliff House, voted Oregon’s Best Restaurant. When the weather’s nice you can enjoy your meal outside overlooking the Columbia River.
We enjoyed a beet salad with candied walnuts and homemade pomegranate vinaigrette. For dessert the waiter brought by a tray with the featured desserts for our choosing.
For the entree, I had the Chicken Breast with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic, and Sun-dried Tomatoes in a Chardonnay Cream Sauce. Todd ordered the Oven Roasted Venison Loin with a Currant Port Reduction. I loved the presentation of the plates. Our entrees came with a serving of spaghetti squash topped with grilled asparagus and carrots. We both chose the creamy mashed potatoes with artichokes and gorgonzola (who wouldn’t?). Fresh sprigs of rosemary were whimsically stuck in the center of the swirly mashed potatoes, making the presentation complete.
I had never tried venison before and, based on what I’ve always heard, had always assumed it would be to gamey for my taste. But it was the clear winner of the evening. I took a bite of Todd’s venison, followed by another bite…and another. (To be fair, I shared my chicken). Incredibly lean and tender, and I was surprised how mild it was. The currant port reduction was out-of-this-world delicious. No trace of it was left on the plate by the time the meal was done.
We were seated at the end of the restaurant closest to the lounge and were able to enjoy the live music coming from the baby grand piano. An elderly gentleman who looked to be in his 80’s sat down at the piano, pulled the mic up to him, and started crooning jazz standards. We recognized some of our favorite tunes from Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, and others. With a grin, one of the waiters told us the man has been playing there for almost as long as the hotel has been standing. I smiled in his direction as we left the room to the tune of Through The Eyes of Love and headed out for an evening stroll around the grounds.
As beautiful as the grounds are in daylight, they become enchanted at night.
We could have happily stayed out there all evening – it was magical.
The Columbia Gorge Hotel offers the perfect romantic getaway. A big “thank you” to the hotel and its friendly staff for providing us with such a wonderful stay. For more information, visit their website: Columbia Gorge Hotel
4000 Westcliff Drive
Hood River, Oregon 97031
*Disclosure: Columbia Gorge Hotel provided us with a comp room for our stay with no obligation to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.