Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Historic Balch Hotel: Dufur OR

I’m a sucker for historic hotels, and often seek them out whenever I take a trip.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to stay at the Balch Hotel in Dufur, Oregon. Dufur is a farming community roughly 100 miles from Portland and just east of The Dalles. The hotel (c. 1907), which has been elegantly restored and is on the National Register of Historic Places, looms large in this small town.

The Balch (as it's fondly called) takes pride not only in its historic roots, but also in creating an atmosphere where you can unplug. There are no TVs – but there is Wi-Fi for those that suffer from technology separation anxiety. Having said that, soon after arriving, not only did I put my iPhone down – I actually put it away. Yup, that’s right. I just turned off the ringtone and zipped it up in my purse. That way, I knew I could enjoy the sound of cooing doves wafting through my second-floor bedroom window without interruption.

Another great thing about the Balch is that, although it’s more than 100 years old, it does not have that musty, creepy feeling – often passed off as “atmosphere” – that some historic hotels have. The Balch stays true to its historic roots and has a definite period look and feel, but the aura inside is airy and light with just the right amount of furnishings, and not overwhelmed by overstuffed “shabby chic” Victorian furniture. 

The grounds are well maintained, and there’s also a lovely, spacious patio. (It’s easy to understand why this is a popular place for weddings.) The weekend I stayed the weather was sunny and warm (not unusual for east of the Cascades), so it was easy to enjoy the outdoor areas.

The hotel also hosts many events, one of which I attended: a spring winemakers dinner, which featured a delicious meal prepared by The Lamb’s Table paired with wines from Maryhill Winery, located just across the Columbia River in Washington.

An entertaining, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable marketing person from Maryhill Winery filled us in on the wines as we ate. This might sound invasive, but it was actually fun to learn about each wine in real time while eating the dish it complemented. I bonded with the Viognier, and ended up purchasing a bottle to go.

After the meal, I took an evening stroll around the grounds, gazed at the stars, then retired to my room – reveling in the simple pleasure of not feeling I had to go anywhere or do anything. 

In short, the Balch has a beautiful feeling both inside and out; it pretty much has everything one needs to chill, and is well worth a visit.

Balch Hotel
40 South Heimrich Street
Dufur, OR, 97021

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