Located in downtown Santa Rosa in the historic Empire Building, the newly christened Hotel E (www.hotelesantarosa.com) offers the best of both worlds — the charm of yesteryear coupled with modern day access features for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Built in 1908, the building was once home to a bank, a college, and most recently a law firm; before it was acquired by Hugh Futrell in 2016. Futrell subsequently partnered with Sonoma-based Greystone Hotels to create this 39-room Old Courthouse Square boutique property.
Welcome to the Hotel E!
Accessible parking is available in front of this upscale Sonoma County property, with level access to the hotel entrance. And if you don’t want to bother with parking, valet service is also available. One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter the restored Empire Building is the subtle blend of old and new, with pieces of exposed cement from the historic structure clearly visible from the newly redecorated vestibule. That said, wheelchair-users and slow walkers will enjoy the convenience of the modern elevator. Next door there’s level access throughout the lobby which exudes a cool inviting vibe, while historic photos of downtown Santa Rosa grace the wall near the lowered front desk.
The Enology Lounge, which is located in the lobby, offers an extensive list of Sonoma wines and craft beers in the evenings, as well as some small bar bites. In the mornings a lite menu is offered that includes assorted pastries, oatmeal, quiche, fruit juices and a variety of coffee drinks. The comfortable lobby, which includes both high and low tables, is a pleasant place to sit back and relax any time of the day. And with a few doggie beds and water dishes scattered about, it’s also a welcoming place for Fido.
Stay a Spell
Accessible room 303, which is just a short elevator ride away, is equally comfortable. Access features include wide doorways, a lowered peephole, lowered drapery wands, a laminate floor for easy rolling and good pathway access. It’s furnished with a 25-inch high open-frame queen-sized bed with wheelchair access on both sides, two night tables, a wardrobe, a 55-inch television and a desk with a bench. Other features include a mini refrigerator and a Keurig coffee maker.
Like the rest of the property this room has a subtle mix of old and new —high ceilings with crown moldings are coupled with modern furnishings to provide a clean yet nostalgic look. And on the night table a digital tablet sits beside a vintage wind-up alarm clock replica.
The spacious bathroom features a full five-foot turning radius, and is equipped with a roll-in shower with a hand-held shower head, grab bars and a fold-down shower seat. The shower controls are within easy reach of the shower chair, and there’s also a standard showerhead in the the unit. The toilet grab bars are located on the back and left walls (as seated), and the bathroom also has a roll-under sink with a lowered mirror.
And in keeping with the theme of reflections on the past, the hallway of this floor is lined with historic photos of Sonoma County. That’s also the case on the other floors of Hotel E, so feel free to explore and see what the area looked liked in the olden days.
The Perfect Home Base
Hotel E — named for the historic Empire Building — makes the perfect home base for a Sonoma County getaway. Many of the area wineries are accessible to wheelchair-users and slow walkers, and there’s certainly no shortage of top-notch restaurants along the way. For more information about Sonoma county wineries, visit sonomawine.com.
Of course you just can’t beat the location of the property either, as Hotel E is smack dab in the middle of the bustling revitalized downtown area. There’s no shortage of restaurants nearby, most of which have a level entry. Downtown Santa Rosa is a walkable area too, with level sidewalks and curb-cuts at every corner. And if you need some downtown restaurant suggestions, check out this interactive map — www.srcity.org/1349/Downtown-Map
All in all the folks at Greystone Hotels have something to be proud of with the restoration of this downtown landmark — complete with the building’s iconic clock tower. Says Vern Lakusta, General Manager of Hotel E, “Throughout the entire process, we closely examined every aspect of our redesign to ensure that we were honoring the history of the building and local community. We hope that Hotel E spurs on the revitalization of Santa Rosa and forever anchors the heart of our resilient town.”
And the good news is, phase two of Hotel E is slated to open in the the spring of 2020. This addition will include a rooftop bar, Perry’s restaurant, Starbucks, and two floors of guest suites. So stay tuned — I’m sure it will be just as accessible as phase one.