A proud member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Paso Robles Inn has a rich and colorful place in Paso Robles history spanning more than a century.
1857 - James and Daniel Blackburn purchase "El Paso de Robles"
El Paso de Robles, or "Pass of the Oaks," was originally part of a 25,000-acre Spanish land grant that was purchased by James and Daniel Blackburn in 1857. The land was a rest stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail, and was known for its mineral hot springs.
In fact, Franciscan priests from neighboring Mission San Miguel constructed the first mineral baths in the area. At this point in Paso Robles history pioneer settlers began to be attracted to the area and would become the founding members of the community. They would later establish cattle ranches, apple and almond orchards, dairy farms, and vineyards. In 1864 the first El Paso de Robles Hotel was constructed and featured a hot mineral springs bath house.
1891 - A magnificent new Paso Robles Hotel is built
In 1889, the same year that Paso Robles incorporated as a city, construction began on a magnificent new hotel. The hotel required over one million bricks and cost a princely $160,000. The new El Paso de Robles Hotel opened for business in 1891. The new hotel was three stories tall and built of solid masonry, set off by sandstone arches. This ensured the hotel was completely fireproof.
The hotel also featured a seven-acre garden and nine-hole golf course. Inside was a library, a beauty salon, a barbershop, and various billiard and lounging rooms. The new hotel also offered an improved hot springs plunge bath, as well as 32 individual bathrooms. The 20 by 40-foot plunge bath was considered one of the finest and most complete of its time in the United States.
1906 - A new hot springs bathhouse is completed
In 1906, a new hot springs bathhouse was completed at the hotel. Decorated with marble and ceramic tile, it was one of the most elegant in the nation, rivaled only by similar facilities in Europe.
1913 - Ignace Paderewski, the world-famous concert pianist and composer, visits the hotel
In 1913, The world's most well-known concert pianist and composer, Ignace Paderewski, visited the Paso Robles Hotel. After three months of treatments at the hotel's mineral hot springs for his arthritis, he resumed his concert tour. He later returned to live at the hotel and bought two beautiful ranches just west of Paso Robles.
During the next 30 years, the hotel was visited by other notables, including boxing champion Jack Dempsey, US president Theodore Roosevelt, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (the mother of William Randolph Hearst), and actors Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable. When Major League baseball teams used Paso Robles as a spring training home, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox stayed at the hotel and soaked in the mineral hot springs to soothe tired muscles.
1940- The Paso Robles Hotel burns down
In December of 1940, tragedy struck. A spectacular fire completely destroyed the "fire-proof" El Paso de Robles Hotel. Guests staying the night escaped unharmed, although the night clerk who discovered the fire suffered a fatal heart attack immediately after sounding the alarm.
Within months after the blaze, plans for a new hotel to be built on the site were drawn up. The design was an entirely new concept: A Garden Inn - Hotel, designed to accommodate motoring travelers. By February 1942 construction was complete and the new Paso Robles Inn opened for business.
1999 - The Martin Family purchases the Paso Robles Inn
Through the 1960s and 1970s, few changes occurred at one of California’s most historic hotels. However, the City of Paso Robles experienced significant growth. The area's wine industry flourished, the California Mid-State Fair expanded into a regional attraction, local lakes became family vacation destinations, and Paso Robles' reputation as a charming and friendly community grew.
In early 1999, the Paso Robles Inn was purchased by Martin Resorts, a local family-owned corporation. The Martins immediately embarked on a multi-phase plan to revitalize the Inn and restore its turn-of-the-century grandeur. Their first project was to have the hot mineral spring well re-drilled and the natural mineral springs waters were made available in private tubs in select guest rooms.
In addition, they remodeled and upgraded many of the existing hotel rooms. The dining room was remodeled and a new outdoor dining room was added. The Coffee Shop, a long-time local favorite, was restored and reopened, and a new swimming pool and spa took the place of the ones built in the 1950s. Since 1999, thirty new hot springs spa rooms were built, allowing guests to enjoy the hot mineral water in the privacy of their room.
The elegant historic Ballroom was retrofitted, restored, and reopened for large parties with up to 250 guests. The Steakhouse, featuring Harris Ranch beef, opened in place of the Hot Springs Grill.
2003 - Earthquake Shakes Paso Robles
A devastating 6.5 earthquake shook Paso Robles. The damage required some new construction, including 18 new deluxe spa suites. Thanks to recent retrofitting in 2000, the historic Grand Ballroom withstood the quake with almost no damage.
2005 - New Jesse James Building Opens
The Jesse James Building opened to replace the fallen Annex Building. The building features 18 new rooms including 12 standard guest rooms and 6 two-room suites featuring hot springs mineral tubs.
Today, the Inn proudly features 98 guest rooms, including Deluxe Mineral Spa Rooms and Two-Room Suites that offer soothing thermal waters in the privacy of your own guest room. The Inn continues to be a cornerstone in the hub of the Paso Robles community and is a favorite among locals and out-of-town guests alike for events in our beautiful Grand Ballroom, meeting at our popular Steakhouse, or just strolling our lovely gardens.
The Paso Robles Robles Inn has dedicated 18 Deluxe Mineral Spa Rooms, coinciding with the hotel's major renovation, to an exclusive partnership with with local wineries. The guest rooms have been completely renovated from floor to ceiling, including updated bathrooms, furnishings, amenities and their famous private mineral water soaking tubs. Winery partners have provided representative touches in art, furniture and accessories to theme the room. This has been a really exciting and interactive way for us to help tell the story of Paso Robles, and to celebrate our region's reputation for wine, travel and hospitality.
For more fascinating facts, order a copy of The History of the Paso Robles Inn: More than a Century of Pride. This leather-bound, 120-page book by Ann Martin Bowler is available for $20 (plus tax and shipping). Please call 800-676-1713 to place your order.