How about a weekend getaway to Riverside in the next few weeks before it starts to get too hot? If you have stayed at the Mission Inn in historic downtown Riverside, then you know what a unique place this is. The hotel is a National Historic Landmark and dates back to 1876 when it was known as the Glenwood, a two story 12-room adobe built by a civil engineer called Christopher Columbus Miller. When his son, Frank Miller took over the reigns in 1880, things slowly started to happen.
By the turn of the century, Riverside was one of the wealthiest communities in the USA, and a major tourist attraction for wealthy Easterners and the rich British tourists looking for warm winter retreats. This was the beginning of the Mission Inn as we know it today, and over the years, wings were continually added. Frank Miller traveled the world and brought back a real pot pourri of priceless and unique artifacts that can be seen today throughout the hotel. After Miller died in 1935, the hotel steadilly declined. The hotel finally closed in 1985 after several owners tried to make a go of it, and barbed wire surrounded the property for seven years.
Mission Inn re-opened on December 30, 1992, and has recently started to regain its former luster. It occupies an entire city block, and encompasses 320,000 square feet. There are 239 guest rooms and twenty-eight suites in the sprawling hotel.
Almost every President since Theodore Roosevelt has visited the hotel. Richard Nixon married here, and Ronald Reagan spent the first night of his honeymoon in the hotel. George W. Bush has been twice, and I had the good fortune to stay in the same suite that the president resided in during his last stay. That suite included a plasma TV, large bedroom and outside dining area, huge balcony overlooking the city and much more. Barbara Streisand is a regular, and during his Riverside Speedway racing days, Paul Newman always stayed here.
There are several restaurants at the hotel, but the finest gourmet food is served at Duane's Prime Steaks and Seafood restaurant, under Executive Chef Victor Juarez. Consistently voted the best restaurant in the inland empire, Duane's restaurant has received numerous accolades, including the Golden Scepter Award from the Southern California Restaurant Writers. Some of the stand-out dishes include a 12-oz New York Strip, a Kansas City 16-oz New York strip, an 8-oz Filet Mignon and a 25-oz Rib Eye Chop. Service is exemplary! Duane's recently won The Wine Excellence Award for their wine list and service, at the Restaurant Awards Banquet. The Sunday Brunch at Duane's is famous throughout California, testified to by the crowd starting lining up at 9.30 on the Sunday morning the Sunday I visited.
There are several packages available ranging from the Sunday Mission Package ($149 per night) up to the Romance Package ($310 per person). That Romance Package includes a rose, chocolate box and half hour massage. Rates are based on double occupancy and, although the rooms are deluxe, upgrades are available.
Tell a friend about Mission Inn and Duane's Restaurant
Mike Hepworth, June, 2004