The original Cary House Hotel in Placerville was built during the Gold Rush by William Cary in 1847 – hence the name. Historical documents from Placerville’s early history sometimes list the hotel as the “Carey Hotel,” but the name was misspelled. The first hotel burned to the ground in 1856, and a new structure with three floors was built on the spot of the original hotel.
From the very beginning, the Cary Hotel was an elegant place, built for the crème de la crème of Victorian society. It had 77 rooms and boasted a bathroom on every floor with hot and cold running water — a luxury for the era, let alone in the gold country of California.
The rich and famous added the Cary Hotel to their itineraries when touring through the West. Historical figures known to have stayed at the hotel include Mark Twain (who used to write for the Mountain Democrat in Placerville), President Ulysses S. Grant and John Studebaker. Hollywood figures, such as actress Bette Davis, have graced the hotel. Most recently, Brooke Shields and Lou Diamond Phillips filmed a movie at the hotel.
A fourth floor was added in the early 1900s when a hidden cache of gold dust and nuggets worth $600 was discovered. At that time, the hotel had been renamed the “Raffles Hotel.” During construction in 1926, an elevator was added that is now the second oldest elevator west of the Mississippi River.
Today, the hotel has returned to its original name, and retains its original 1850s woodwork and bricks. There are 40 rooms which have their own bathrooms. Sixty percent of the rooms are suites with kitchenettes. The second floor rooms are named after the grapes grown in the surrounding wine country, while the third floor rooms are named after historical figures, including Twain and Studebaker. The Twain Room has a locked bookcase of the author’s works, while the Studebaker Room is filled with photos and information about the Studebaker family.
The atmosphere at the Cary House Hotel is charming, cozy and comfortable. This place has it all – history, romance, elegance, charm – and for those interested in unexplained phenomena…the paranormal. This lovely space filled with history, antiques and architectural details galore, sports a spectral tale or two. No fewer than four ghosts haunt the Cary House Hotel, according to Chris Hodge, who manages the hotel. Not all guests encounter these spectral hotel residents, but it has been known to happen, he said.
Located adjacent to the Thomas Kinkade Hometown Art Gallery and within easy walking distance of many antique and boutique shops, as well as being central to over 24 El Dorado area wineries, the Lexington Historic Cary House Hotel is a favorite meeting place for those travelers looking to drink in the local culture while in Placerville. Our location is also a huge hit with outdoorsmen of all types as we can easily reserve you a quality round of golf, a fly-fishing getaway or a white-water rafting excursion.