Home is where the heart is. A piece of mine is now in Mentone, Alabama.
The Mentone Springs Hotel has a heart of its own and it beats stronger with the more poeple that call it home for a night or two. The personality of the house shines bigger and brighter as the night grows older and the guests open up.
A Heart on the Mountain
Overlooking the city of Fort Payne and Wills Valley below, the Mentone Springs Hotel keeps watch over the small town of Mentone and like a lighthouse, beckons those in the valley below to come and enjoy. The building calls for company.
Mentone, Alabama is home to Desoto State Park, the Little River, members of the band Alabama, and pristine year around weather. Great things seem to spring from the ground here. In 1884, another crown jewel sprung from the ground when the Mentone Springs Hotel popped up here on the west side of Lookout Mountain.
There are few places that I have ever stayed that get keep getting incrementally better as I stay. The Mentone Springs Hotel is one of them.
The hotel is immaculately decorated from top to bottom. It’s a place that has history you can feel. It’s the oldest hotel in Alabama, so that comes naturally. The original owner built the house on what was referred to as Mentone Springs and hailed by a visiting doctor for its medicinal properties.
Those same healing properties are prevalent today through the atmosphere that heats up around the company staying there. Over a stellar meal, live music, or after a sleepy Sunday brunch relaxing on the porch and enjoying your favorite book, you’ll get your meds here.
Size isn’t everything
The Mentone Springs Hotel is massive. Its size may be intimidating to some, yet the size of the building is a direct correlation to the size of its heart. The heart and soul of this place swells as the rooms fill.
You’d be comfortable alone in any of the sitting rooms with a good book or your laptop catching up on extra work during your stay, but that’s not how the magic of the hotel works. It needs a spark to be lit. Sparks fly and the flames of the candles on the large wrap around porch get brighter as more and more people come to call it home for a meal at Alice’s kitchen or in one of the nine rooms available for an evening.
The hotel truly has a personality of it’s own and just like any other person you’ve ever met, that personality can change just as drastically.
In the mornings, she sits on the hill and quietly comforts the guests as they awaken from their comfortable slumber.
In the afternoon, her smile widens as casual tourists to the town take a stroll through or stop in for lunch.
In the evening that shimmer of light that’s prevalent in a child’s eye appears in each room through the faces of each guest as they share stories of their days adventures in Desoto State Park, the stores in the town of Mentone or a five minute handheld walk to Brow Park behind the hotel that hosts a sunset to rival any you’ve witnessed.
From sun up to sun down there are plenty of reasons to stay busy and just as many to not.
On the bottom floor there are 5 rooms to choose from. One of these is a suite. The rest of the rooms on the bottom floor are all places you’d love to call home for a night.
Except for the suite, the rest of the bedrooms share a large bathroom and multiple showers. There’s a playful feeling that creeps up behind you as you walk from the shower across the hall to your room among your new friends.
There are 4 suites upstairs. Three of the suites have two bedrooms and two of them also have fireplaces to warm the hands and feet during the cool mountain winters.
You can rent the hotel out for an entire family, sleeping up to 25, or arrange for a group of friends to come and let your hair down for the weekend. Either way, the hotel will host an experience of a lifetime.
Good company requires a good meal. The heart and soul of the hotel is in the company it keeps. The creations that bellow out of Christian Shanklin’s kitchen complete the experience. A breakfast of champions is served every morning on a silver platter, literally.
This region of the south is well known for its rainbow trout. Passing up on that treat is a massive mistake.
I arrived on a Thursday afternoon. That next morning, innkeeper, Bill Thomas made an hour and a half drive to a trout farm in Whitwell, Tennessee to pick up dinner.
You can wrap, smother, or garnish fish anyway you like. When it’s as fresh as the fish we ate, you don’t need to do much. Christian knows all to well what’s needed and what’s not.
It’s only with experience and expertise that you realize you don’t need to mess with perfection. A minimalist approach let the fish speak for itself. After adding garlic red potatoes and spinach to the plate, the dish put me in a state of culinary bliss personified by the rocking chair and acoustic music I relegated myself to afterwards. It was without a doubt the best fish I have ever eaten.
Music for the Masses
On Friday afternoon the porch rocks awake with an acoustic guitarist who gently leads you into the weekend with familiar songs that you’re more than welcome to sing along to. You won’t be alone if you find yourself unexpectedly humming, whistling, or singing along.
On Saturday, the kitchen bellowed out a low country boil stocked with healthy size shrimp and sausage to rejuvenate the legs after a day of hiking. A live band made sure that the food went to good use as everyone danced along to the tunes into the night.
A Sunday brunch helps heal what ails you and escorts you out the door with the same smile that’s been on your face since you first walked in the door.
As the weekend goes by and the company becomes more familiar, leaving the Mentone Springs Hotel is a hard thing to do. Emails and Facebook friend requests fly around the hotel on Sunday and a rendezvous becomes more and more evident as each minute passes.
Mentone, has more to offer than you can accomplish in a single weekend, which makes your next visit an easy excuse to reunite with newfound friends and the hotel that made it all happen.
There are certain places where magic happens. You can’t explain it and doing so is a frivolous activity that’s just a waste of time. Head to the Mentone Springs Hotel and experience it for yourself.
The hotel’s Facebook page is constantly being updated and is the best place to check out exactly what your missing. After you’ve teased yourself silly with the online social experience, head over to the website and book a room to make your next weekend what it should be: a heart-warming, relaxing, experience making new friends and becoming part of the Mentone Springs Hotel family.
Off the charts. Staff, hotel, town… all in all awesomeness in Alabama!