Splendiferous Railway Hotels
June 25, 2003 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Railway hotels. To go with yesterday's post, today I bring you the hotel's that were built alongside the railway. Some of the gradients were so acute that when the train ascended or descended, the table settings and food flew in all directions. The weight of the cars added to the problem, as they were too much for the locomotives of the day, and the cars had to be left at the beginning of the railway's path up the mountain passes. Obviously passengers needed to be fed so a solution had to be found as soon as possible. Have you been to any of these hotels, and if so, what was your impression? Do you have any favorite hotels?
posted by ashbury (7 comments total)
I've been to the Banff hotel. As the Michelin folks say, "worth a special trip". Excellent restaurant there too.

I really miss the era of modern craftsmanship. 1930-1990 has been a dark time.
posted by Nelson at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2003

On the other side of the border, some classic railway hotels modestly endure, like the Hotel Coolidge (history) in White River Junction, Vermont.
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2003

I don't really have a favorite hotel, but I certainly do have a most memorable hotel. It was a small roadside hotel on the Daniel Webster highway, just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire. Myself and two friends spent 6 frightful hours in it. Unbeknownst to us, this hotel was a known site for prostitution and drug deals. When the cops patrolled by and advised us to keep the curtains closed and to steer clear of the windows, we took the hint and left. We ended up checking into the Swiss Chalet at 3am.
posted by debralee at 11:33 AM on June 25, 2003

I've been to the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. What a beauty! Truly defines Quebec City.
posted by harja at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2003

I've been to the ones in Victoria, Banff, and Lake Louise. Lake Louise is astoundingly beautiful. Favorite place I've ever spent time at is a little dive resort on an island off the coast of Honduras. Alas the place no longer is in operation...
posted by Eekacat at 4:07 PM on June 25, 2003

I've dined at the Banff Springs Hotel, spent a few nights at both Saskatoon's Bessborough Hotel and Winnipeg's Hotel Fort Gary, and live around the corner from Regina's Hotel Saskatchewan (where I've enjoyed many a cocktail). Staying at a railway hotel can really make a vacation.
posted by Monk at 4:58 PM on June 25, 2003

A few years ago I stayed at a B&B in Skipton, near England's Lake District. I noticed the sign before I noticed the railroad tracks: NOTICE: TRAINS STOP RUNNING AT 18:00 HOURS

It was early evening, and there was nothing else to do, so I wandered a bit and found what looked like a small shack by the tracks, with laundry hanging on a clothesline. An Irish Setter dashed out to greet me as I approached. There was a woman inside the building, and we chatted amiably. Turns out she was the operator of the railroad gate, one of the few remaining manually operated ones. She explained that usually she left at 6:00, but tonight she was working late, because British Rail was testing something or other, and trains would be running all night through Skipton. She'd gone home at lunchtime to fetch her laundry and her dog, since she'd be working so late.

I didn't think much about it, other than it being a pleasant conversation, until I was sound asleep at 11:00PM and what I thought was an earthquake struck. The room was vibrating, my travel alarm fell off the nightstand. It was a train passing through (through the room, so it felt). That "I Love Lucy" episode where they're in Cincinnati, and the train going by causes the bed to walk across the room? Wasn't as exaggerated as I'd thought.

Interestingly enough, the next morning at breakfast, several other guests approached me and said accusingly "I've heard that you knew the trains would be running all night!" Like I was supposed to have announced the news? Where would they have gone - it looked like this was the only B&B in all of Skipton.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:52 PM on June 25, 2003

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