Columbia Gorge Hotel

Wah Gwin Gwin Falls. Columbia Gorge Hotel. Photo: KGilb.

Like big beautiful houses, I love grand old hotels. Of all the ones I’ve visited over the years, each has offered a unique glimpse back to a time when grace and elegance ruled. A world where the inhabitants actually “dressed” for dinner instead of just showing up in khakis, Nikes, and knit tops.

One such window into the past is the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Perched high atop a cliff overlooking the Columbia River, the hotel’s distinctive Mediterranean-style architecture dates back to the Roaring 20’s.

During its heyday, this “oasis of opulence” out in the wilds of the Columbia Gorge attracted visitors from around the world. Everyone from U.S. Presidents and political leaders to business moguls and Hollywood filmmakers. Perhaps even that smoldering star of the Silver Screen himself . . . Rudolf Valentino! In fact, look for a photograph of the famed film star back by the baby grand piano in the Valentino Lounge.

The main entrance leads past the registration desk into a bright, airy lobby with sculpted ceilings and antique chandeliers. From there, you can proceed right into the lounge or take a short detour into Simon’s Cliff House Restaurant.

Simon’s has a low-beamed ceiling which makes for an intimate setting. But for those who prefer their meals with a view, the main dining area is flanked by two long glassed-in porches overlooking either the Gorge or the many manicured gardens surrounding the hotel.

Outside, the view from the top of the cliff is breathtaking and there are several spots that provide terrific photo ops. But visitors will also want to take a stroll though the gardens. A narrow walking path loops around the hotel–wandering past flower beds filled with native plants, up and over bridges, and along a small creek. Would you like a glimpse of the landscaping? Take this unique video tour of the grounds.

And how many hotels do you know that actually have their own waterfall? Not man-made, but a natural part of the landscape? The Wah Gwin Gwin Waterfall tumbles 208 feet from the top of the cliff down to the Columbia River below. Best view is from the stone terrace at the back of the hotel.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel is located at 4000 Westcliff Drive on the outskirts of Hood River, OR. From Portland, take I-84 and drive east about 60 miles.

Special Note: The Hotel is planning several special events during the upcoming holiday season, including afternoon tea and the kick-off to their annual Festival of Lights. 500,000 lights in all! Please check their listing of Upcoming Events for specific dates and times.

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