The Inn at 500 Capitol had me from the minute I walked in. After a day of flying that involved four airports and two layovers, the first thing they asked me after I handed over my ID was, “Would you like a glass of wine or a craft beer?” Not just a routine beer mind you, but a pale ale from a local Boise brewery.
That was just a first clue that this is no run-of-the-mill hotel. Next was the original artwork on the way to the elevator and on the walls of the hallway as I walked to my room. Each room had a butler pantry for room service delivery, so there were no used room service trays sitting on the hallway floor.
Then there were the icons on each room number plate: mountains,a wine glass, a local college sports team logo, or a hot air balloon. What could that mean for the rooms beyond those doors?
This artistic boutique hotel balances whimsy with comfort and amenities, mixing original artwork throughout the property with a higher level of service than you can experience elsewhere. Who else will offer to pick you up from the Boise airport in a Mercedes with no extra charge?
Inn at 500 Capitol also gets all the basics right, as reflected in its awards and qualifications. It was voted the best hotel in Boise and in all of Idaho by U.S. News & World Report and it is recognized as a 4-diamond property by AAA. Located at 500 S. Capitol, it’s also in a prime area for strolling, near Main Street, the Egyptian Theater, City Hall, and the Basque Market. Some rooms have a view of the capitol building to the north.
When it’s time for a drink or a meal, there’s plenty nearby, but you can also stay on site and head to Richard’s. This is a real locavore place, with a highly regarded local chef who sources most of the ingredients from nearby farms. I was only able to eat breakfast since we were hitting the road to go skiing, but everything the five of us had on our plates was fresh and delicious. The breakfast menu is farm-fresh favorites with a few surprises and healthy items here and there, while the dinner menu veers toward Italian.
The bar with a separate seating area serves plenty of wines from the northwest USA, plus beers on tap from Wallace Brewing of Idaho and a few from neighboring states.
You can get a workout with a view from the hotel’s fitness center, which is stocked with current cardio machines, weight machines, and items for doing yoga. Or go use the bike paths to navigate the city of Boise, which is not very traffic-heavy, on complimentary bikes available to guests.
It’s hard to describe the rooms at Inn at 500 because there’s far more variety than you’d find in a typical hotel. Those icons on the door numbers that I mentioned earlier? They refer to the theme of some rooms and suites, which run a whole gamut of choices. This one pictured above has an animal theme, designed in conjunction with the local zoo. There’s a Basque-themed room in honor of the many locals with Basque heritage, and the Boise Art Museum room, curated by the museum’s staff. Others are geared to wine lovers, nature lovers, or die-hard fans of the Boise State University football team.
The standard rooms are not run-of-the-mill either. My king room pictured below had a nice cushioned window seat, a double sink in the spacious bathroom, and a gas fireplace. Plus you get a long list of amenities like a fridge, capsule coffee maker, large cable TV, ergonomic desk chair, cushioned headboard, and plenty of outlets. All rooms have original artwork and many have books on the shelves as well. Some have a balcony or terrace.
Suites are worth the upgrade to get more space, either as a large junior suite or with a separate living room. The Spa King suite has a jetted whirlpool in the bath and the One Bedroom Suite has a furnished balcony. The top choices are the three penthouse suite options, which are around 1,000 square feet and have a kitchen and full dining table.
While this property will surely make leisure travelers happy, it works well for small business gatherings as well. There’s a gorgeous boardroom between the lobby and the restaurant, as well as a ballroom that can handle banquets for around 100 diners.
It’s clear there is an experienced management team in place at the Inn at 500 Capitol. That’s probably helped by the fact that the company behind it also owns and operates Inn at the 5th in Eugene, Oregon. Next up will be another boutique hotel in Eugene to be called The Gordon Hotel, opening late 2020.
Editor Tim Leffel was hosted one night at the Inn at 500 Capitol while researching articles on skiing in Idaho. All photos by Leffel except the last one, courtesy of the hotel.