Historical Luxury in Walla Walla, Washington

Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center

Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Walla Walla

In 1805, Lewis and Clark came to the Walla Walla region and liked what they found. Over 200 years later, Walla Walla has developed into one of the premier wine regions in the United States and visitors to the city, just like Lewis and Clark, like what they find.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Convention Center is located in downtown Walla Walla, and dates back to the 1920s. It was named for Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries in the area who met a rather untimely death in the mid-1800s. The story of the Whitman’s stay in the Walla Walla area isn’t a pretty one – if you’re interested you can find the story explained in a painting exhibit located on the second floor of the hotel’s main tower. Spoiler alert:  there is scalping involved.

Since its inception, the hotel has gone through numerous renovations and expansions, and today features a convention and conference facility in addition to 133 historic luxury rooms and suites. The conference center is modern, but the two hotel towers retain their historic feel.

Lobby of Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla

Lobby of Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla

The lobby of the Whitman creates a private club type of atmosphere. The wood is dark, and decor is chocolate brown and brocade. It seems to have a glow most any time of day, in the morning from the sun and in the evening from the subdued lighting.

Guestrooms at the Whitman tend to the small side, and while there is a historic feel to them, some of the furniture in the rooms run a little toward the shabby chic.

Guestroom at the Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla

Guestroom at the Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla

I had a fairly spacious room with double beds. One wall was red, matching the club chair in the corner, and it provided a balanced contast to the white bedding. Beds were new and comfortable, with down pillows (of varying degrees of firmness). The bath featured Gilchrist & Soames products.

Work area in guest room at The Whitman, Walla Walla

Work area in guest room at The Whitman, Walla Walla

The floor length drapes were heavy and felt dated, as did the carpet. And on the other side of the room, it felt like a completely different room. The walls were painted a yellowish color, and in the low light seemed dingy. The dresser was old, and beat up with lots of knicks, and the desk was serviceable, but plugs-in limited. A coffee service in the room had a blend from local Walla Walla Roastery (a medium tasty roast), and a big plus there is FREE wifi.

Other guest amenities include:  complimentary hot breakfast, fitness center, and pet friendly rooms. If you’re driving, there is free parking, and if you fly in, there is a complimentary airport shuttle.

The name Walla Walla is of Native American origin and means “many waters.” Given the number of wineries and tasting rooms in the area, you’d think it meant “many wines.” There are numerous wine tasting rooms off the lobby of the Whitman, including Tero Estates & Flying Trout Wine, Locati Cellars, Lodmell Cellars,Trio Vintners, and Mansion Creek Cellars. Walk a few blocks in either direction and you’ll find dozens more.

Historic hotels are often a mixed bag of luxury, and the Whitman is no exception. If you enjoy the character and history of older hotels, and can put up with the quirks that go along with it, the historic luxury of the Whitman will appeal.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel and Convention Center is located in downtown Walla Walla at 6 West Rose Street. Summer rates start around $154/night. Year round rates very substantially, and are much higher during special wine events, as well as during prime visiting periods at Whitman College. You can also compare rates on the search engines such as Expedia, Hotels.com or Travelocity.

Disclosure:  The author received a complimentary stay at the Whitman.

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