By Dawn Cranfield
An Unexpected Find in the Hills South of Virginia City – the Gold Hill Hotel
Nestled in the hills a mile south of historic Virginia City, Nevada, in the Comstock Lode mining community I found an unexpected golden nugget, the Gold Hill Hotel. Known as Nevada’s oldest operating hotel, the Gold Hill hotel was established in 1861; first known as the Riesen House.
Although the hotel has been through several proprietors over its 151 year lifespan, the current owners may be the most surprising.
Comstock Mining, Inc. purchased the property when the latest owners, Carol and Bill Fain, were ready to retire. After two years of being on the market, it became apparent the combination hotel, restaurant, and bar might have closed down if it were not for the interest of the mining company and their future vision for the revitalization of the Comstock Lode community.
Although I was only to stay for one night, I immediately felt at home and treated like a valued guest. The front desk clerk gave me a tour of two rooms I could choose from; one was part of the original hotel and included room 4, a famed “haunted” room. Rosie had lived in room 4 until she died of a “ripe old age”, according to my guide; she is known to rearrange items belonging to guests. The room has a double bed, claw foot
antique tub, and no television.
The other room we toured was room 10, in the newer part of the hotel; it was spacious, with a king sized bed, fireplace, television, and a balcony
overlooking Silver City. Also, there were no reported ghost sightings.
While I do not believe in ghosts necessarily, I did not have a good feeling about sleeping alone in a room with Rosie; especially with no television for company. So, even though I wanted to soak up as much culture as I could on this trip, I chickened out and opted to stay in room 10.
My dinner in the Crown Point Restaurant was wonderful; I was happily surprised to find such fine dining in what most would consider an out of
the way place. As a teenager, my dad would take us on many day trips to Virginia City in search of the perfect chili cheese dog; so, I always think of hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, and other bar food when I remember the area. I would never have imagined the dining experience I usually only get when I am in bigger cities like Dallas, Houston, Portland, and San Francisco.
However, Serge Marchale, Executive Chef, the Crown Point Restaurant’s newly appointed chef since September 2011 brings an elegance and flair to this uniquely upscale restaurant. I ordered one of the specials, the mahi mahi; honestly, at home I put ketchup on my fish, and my dinner that evening was so perfect I barely used salt and pepper. For desert, I indulged in the chocolate soufflé, a great choice if you can spare the calories.
The people watching was excellent; there was a group of four older couples from Germany having a spirited conversation about beer. They were discussing the virtues of Hamms, Coors, and other beer; they ordered the Bananas Foster; it was prepared at their table and the smell permeated the restaurant. I wanted to change my order from the soufflé…
I had drinks in the bar, and had an incredible time soaking up the local culture; it was full of miners working on the Comstock. The atmosphere was fun, warm and inviting; even being an “out of towner” I felt like I fit in as I joined in the conversations. I sat by the warm fire, looking up at the ceiling trying to read the inscriptions on the dollars tacked over every square inch, an interesting local tradition.
The next morning, my trip coming to a close; I meandered downstairs and talked to the front desk clerk to ask for some more information on the hotel. Mandy told me of one of her “run ins” with a spirit; one morning as she was preparing the continental breakfast, she was in the kitchen and watched as the faucet turned completely around on its’ own. I left that morning, happy with my stay, and entirely satisfied I had stayed in room 10.
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