Story by Kellie Ann Benz Photos by Gabe Green
A piece of history since 1899
It’s a little bit out of the way, about two miles down a two-lane road off state Highway 105 in fact, and tucked behind a quiet row of hidden homes on a tiny street along Willapa Bay. But when you find The Tokeland Hotel, you’ll feel like you’re home again.
What is now a charming hotel in one of Washington’s most delightful, tiny towns was once the farmhouse of a local founding family, the Browns. When daughter Elizabeth Brown fell in love with William S. Kindred, the new couple was gifted the home. There, they raised their family and in 1899 they expanded the home and opened it as the first Tokeland Hotel. As the 1900s began, this new addition to the landscape was merely one of many resort style vacation spots in the popular get-away location town of Tokeland, a destination for sports fisherman from as far as California and Idaho.
The area continued to prosper well into the modern era until in 1964 the expansion of Highway 101 through Oregon and Washington took drivers toward Raymond and away from state Highway 105.
By the late 1970s, the hotel’s owners were long passed and no new owners appeared to keep the hotel in working order. According to the hotel’s current marketing materials, by 1984 the building sat abandonded and began to show signs of deterioration. The hotel’s folklore suggests that the antiques and guest registries disappered into the night, and with it went most of the details of the hotel’s past.
Seattleites Katherine and Scott White, on a vacation in the area, fell in love with the derelict building the first time they saw it. In 1989, the Whites bought the property and invested in the hotel’s restoration. In honor of all of the mothers in their lives, and as a nod to Elizabeth Brown, they re-opened The Tokeland Hotel on Mother’s Day in 1990.
The couple saved the original dark-wood, fir-planked floors, walls and ceilings, reserving the romantic second floor and its nine rooms for hotel guests. Accommodations are available for a cozy night’s sleep in one of the hotel’s vintage rooms. They’re complete with Victorian era furniture like old iron bed frames, with modern day bedding and topped with a pristine quilt just like the old days. Bathrooms — complete with vintage claw-foot tubs — are shared among guests, in that get-to-know your neighbor way that bed-and-breakfast travelling affords. Most rooms sleep two people.
The White’s keep the third floor as their personal space.
The main floor is the most public of areas with an eclectically designed dining room and their warm and cozy “Fireplace Room.” On any particularly busy day, especially when the sun is out, you’ll find the lobby’s friendly bay window attracting book readers to lounge until a chapter — or the entire book — has been read.
Staying overnight, or for the weekend, means you’re stepping back into a time when conversation was king. By virtue of the premises, you’ll meet your fellow travellers easily and before your stay is done will have made some new lifelong friends.
Each room in the hotel, from the kitchen to the lobby, is filled with antiques that are as thrilling to discover as is this out-of-the-way charmer. The Whites have done well at replacing and expanding upon the antiques that were previously lost during the hotel’s empty years.
The restaurant offers a full menu from sunrise to sunset of delectible meals that will keep your belly full and your palate satiated. From homemade blueberry pancakes in the morning to the house speciality of cranberry pot roast in the evening, you’ll not go hungry. After all, isn’t it scientifically proven that there are no calories when you’re on holiday? We jest, of course. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, however, hold a spot in your appetite for their freshly made blackberry cobbler or any of their specialty pies.
Looking to explore the area, you’re just a quick jaunt from the famous Nelson Crab site where you can collect your own stock of fresh seafood, and a hop, skip and a jump from the Shoalwater Casino if you’re feeling lucky. And of course, the beach isn’t far.
However you choose to spend your time at The Tokeland Hotel, know that you’ll be treated to a true home-style experience. We reckon, just the way the original owners would have liked it.