Travel to Mendocino Village – perched high above the Pacific Ocean on the Mendocino Headlands – and you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve somehow been transported to the Eastern Seaboard. For Mendocino is filled with Victorian homes, saltboxes, wooden water towers, and kitschy shops reminiscent of towns along the coast of Maine, Rhode Island, or New Jersey.
The explanation is a simple one – many of the village’s early settlers (starting in 1850) came from New England!
The architecture is so reminiscent of a New England seaside hamlet that the television series, Murder, She Wrote – purportedly set in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine – was actually filmed in and around Mendocino Village.
Are you up for an authentic Eastern Seaboard experience for your next stay on the Northern California coast? Try one of these Victorian-style lodging choices.
Blair House Bed and Breakfast
For those of you who are Murder, She Wrote fans, Blair House – an 1888 Victorian first built for Elisha Blair and his family and now a popular Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Mendocino Village – played the role of Jessica Fletcher’s home for the television show.
Blair House is known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, its cuddly feather beds, pillows, and comforters, and the healthy and hearty breakfast you’ll be treated to each morning of your stay.
Choose from one of three bedrooms: Angela’s Suite is a sumptuous two-room suite with fireplaces and bay windows, lovely antiques, a four poster bed, and a large private bath with claw foot tub; Jennifer’s Room has one of the best ocean views and is decked out with Swedish antiques and botanical prints, and contains a private half-bath; or Eric’s Room, which looks out over Mendocino Village and the Bay leading to Big River, perfect for catching a beautiful sunrise (also with Swedish antiques and private bath).
Or opt for Blair Cottage during your stay. Once used as the carriage house, Blair Cottage is cozy and private with a kitchenette, queen bed, sleeping loft, private bathroom, and its own little yard area.
The Headlands Inn for breakfast in bed
The Headlands Inn is a lovely example of the Victorian Salt-Box style that offers breakfast in bed, bedside chocolates, afternoon tea and cookies, crackling fireplaces, cozy feather beds, and English gardens along with breathtaking ocean views.
With seven charming and unique guest rooms plus two romantic cottages from which to choose, you’ll enjoy personalized service, coastal views, and fantastic breakfasts.
Built in 1868 as a small barbershop, the second and third stories weren’t added until 1873. The upper stories provided living quarters for the barber, John Barry, and his family. In the late 1800s W. J. Wilson bought the building and converted it into a high class restaurant called The Oyster and Coffee Saloon. The upstairs then served as the Wilson Hotel.
Other owners included George Switzer who moved the building to its current location by horses pulling the house over logs used as rollers, and John and Bessie Strauss, who lived in the house from 1924 until 1979.
Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites
If you’re looking for more of an historic, Victorian hotel experience, the Mendocino Hotel and Garden Suites should fit the bill. Constructed in 1878 and restored in 1975, this beautiful hotel offers 51 deluxe accommodations ranging from luxurious and romantic garden suites and cottages to Victorian style rooms with access to ocean view balconies.
You’ll discover fireplaces, Italian marble vanities, private balconies, ocean and garden views, antiques, fine art, down comforters, stained glass and Oriental carpets throughout the hotel.
Situated on two acres of botanical gardens, the hotel offers two award-winning restaurants with this Zagat recommendation: “Be sure to stop at this gorgeous hotel with hearty bistro eats in the oak and Victoriana Lobby Lounge, locally sourced Californian cuisine and in the quiet romantic dining room—Old World charm throughout. It will take you back in time with enjoyable service and not-too-expensive prices to boot.“
Mendocino Village water tower lodging
One of the first things you notice when you visit Mendocino Village is the number and variety of water towers associated with village homes.
Originating more than a century ago as a means to provide piped water into houses from nearby streams and rivers, each would have a windmill tall enough to catch the coastal breezes for powering the pumps (most of the windmills have since disappeared), and a tank set high enough to provide sufficient gravitational pull to drive the water through the pipes.
Although some are in dire need of renovation and seem to lean precariously, many have been converted into artist studios, rental units, and gift shops.
For a truly unique experience, try staying in one of the historic water towers at various inns around town. You’ll find water tower rooms and suites at Sweetwater Spa & Inn, J.D. House Inn, Didjeriedoo Dreamtime Inn, and Joshua Grindle Inn, to name a few.
MacCallum House Inn
A classic Eastern Seaboard Victorian inn, MacCallum House Inn was built in 1882 by town father William Kelley as a wedding gift to his daughter Daisy when she married Alexander MacCallum, a local businessman and entrepreneur.
Choose from six rooms in the main house, each featuring lavish antique furnishings and many with claw foot soaking tubs, sleigh beds, and ocean views. You can also select from the seven cottages that surround the main house, or the six rooms carved out of the original MacCallum barn.
All provide an all-inclusive gourmet breakfast, luxurious Telegraph Hill robes, availability of the acclaimed Grey Whale Bar and restaurant, lovely gardens behind white picket fences, and close proximity to the charming shops, galleries, and restaurants of Mendocino Village.