Welcome To The Hotel California
Is this the Hotel California in the Eagles song?
Feel the Cool Breeze
Touring the Hotel California
The Eagles album cover shows a more grand hotel than the charming boutique Hotel California in Todos Santos. In fact, the cover is a reworked version from a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander, with design and art direction by Kosh.
Driving along the newly paved Highway 19, we pulled into the artistic town of Todos Santo and parked on a dirt road. Walking to the main paved street, we turned a corner, looked up, and noticed the Hotel California sign on a two story building. Could this be the hotel that the writers Don Henley, Glenn Lewis Frey and Don Felder from the band, Eagles wrote?
Owner Debbie Stewart and her knowledgeable staff member Hugo Figuaroa shared with us the history of the property.
While Hugo led us on a tour of the 11 rooms and suites, we noticed most were occupied with guests, however since the penthouse suite was vacant, Hugo walked us up the stairs and led us to the room.
We enjoyed touring the two story unit with a huge private patio with views. There is one king size bed on the second floor and one single bed below. Each room offers a Mexican flair with some of the original tile flooring.
Built as a hotel in 1950 by a Chinese immigrant, Mr. Wong and his wife and daughters lived there for years. It's a private hotel with a lovely terrace for "Hotel Guests Only" near a poolside lounge offering views of the The Mission Church of Pilar built in 1724.
The property has an onsite La Coronela Restaurant and Bar with menus focusing on organic locally grown and raised ingredients. They offer classic Mexican favorites and a lively bar scene. Sit under the stars by the courtyard fountain and dance to the sounds of various live bands. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7am - 9pm and until 11 pm when there’s a live band.
Which is the Real Hotel California?
We learned that the music for this song, released in 1977, originated from a demo written and recorded by Don Felder and given to Don Henley and Glenn Frey to write lyrics for it.
"First, the beginning of the song starts, On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair. This hotel is located off on a desert highway near the Pacific Ocean's that offers cool breezes." said Hugo.
Don Henley described the song, Hotel California in a 2007 interview with the evening television show, 60 Minutes, as “a song about … excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”
In Wikipedia, I learned the lyrics are a tale of a weary traveler checking into a hotel. The hotel at first appears inviting and tempting, but it turns out to be a nightmarish place where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave". Some believe that the song was about the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, others speculate the song is an interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles. In the 1980s, some Christian evangelists alleged that "Hotel California" referred to a San Francisco hotel converted into the Church of Satan.
Hugo Figuaro believes that the person who wrote this song found inspiration while visiting the Hotel California in Todos Santos.
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Hugo shared with us the line, Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.
"Colitas is a Mexican slang term for marijuana or joint." The writer(s) of this song must have learned that word while visiting Mexico.
The next few lines - My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night. Well, I've heard colitas can do that to you.
I Heard The Mission Bell
Hugo pointed out the Church right behind the Hotel California. The Mission bells are heard daily. They are so close that they sometimes sound as if they are inside the hotel.
On the site Spanish Missions in Baja California, they state, In 1748 Misión Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz moved from Airapí to Todos Santos, replacing the nearby Misión Santa Rosa de las Palmas. This site is now occupied by a lovely church built in 1970. In 1825, the mission moved again, one mile south. This final site is occupied by the town church.
This church is next to the Hotel California.
She lit up a candle and showed me the way
This hotel initially didn't have electricity, so in the line of the song -Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way, There were voices down the corridor,I thought I heard them say…Welcome to the Hotel California, Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place).
Without electricity when the Hotel California opened, guests were greeted in the evening by candlelight. Also, the hotel has many corridors and the guest rooms are close to each other. With windows open to feel a cool Pacific breeze, guests may hear another guest. The hotel is a lovely place in a vibrant community of artists, surfers and families.
Beach near Todos Santos
Sweet Summer Sweat
Hugo explained to us the line "How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat." The property encompasses several courtyards.The onsite restaurant offers music in the evening and guests enjoy dancing outside.
Also, the Tropic of Cancer goes right over Todos Santos creating a climate that is always pleasant, and warm during the summer months. Guests work up a sweat.
Since the Mission is in the center of this town, during the line - "And still those voices are calling from far away, Wake you up in the middle of the night, Just to hear them say… " Hugo explained that voices can be heard all the time inside the Mission. It's open 24/7 for people to sing, pray, congregate and dance.
No Mirrors on the Ceilings
Such a Lovely Place
Touring the property I did not notice -"Mirrors on the ceiling or pink champagne on ice," however I did find a very comfortable place to rest, relax near the pool, enjoy authentic Mexican Cuisine, listen to the church bells, and explore the galleries and museums in Baja California.
Surfers exploring various surf spots along the Baja California Sur like to stay here, so do Eagle fans, artisans and couples exploring Baja. As the final line in the song states, You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!" The memory of the quaint Hotel California will stay in your mind forever.