Weekend getaway: Soak up Gold Rush flavor at the St. George Hotel

Once the pride of the Mother Lode, the St. George Hotel was built of 14-inch thick red bricks back in 1862, its name intended, some say, to “thwart the demonic Fire Dragon.” Its predecessors, the Eureka and the Empire, had succumbed to the periodic fires that plagued Gold Rush towns, so the St. George’s anti-fire mythology and architecture soon became a key part of the hotel’s identity.

All of that tumultuous history has also forged some colorful lore. One of the many haunted hotels that charm Gold Country visitors, the St. George boasts a trio of spirits who dwell amid its narrow 19th century hallways. The sopping wet, dazed ghost of a little girl, who drowned in a lake, is said to haunt the place. There’s also a lady of the night, occasionally spotted peeking out the front windows, and an old prospector. Keep your eyes peeled for him when you’re hoisting a cold brew at the hotel’s Whiskey Flat Saloon or enjoying the grounds of this historic 22-room hotel, where lush green lawns, a patio and a wonderfully rickety wooden swing add to the charm.

ZZZZ’s: Some rooms sport brass beds, high ceilings and access to wide and inviting front balconies. Period furniture, including ornate armoires, marble-topped tables and handmade quilts, add to the old-time flavor, as do creaky floors (and thin walls). Rooms have cheeky local names, such as Poker Flat and Dogtown.

Want more space? The Zinfandel Cottage offers a sitting room, a queen bed, fireplace and kitchenette. There’s also a sofa bed, if you’re traveling with children.

SPLASHES: The cottages have private baths, and the Garden Cottage has a Jacuzzi tub and a private deck. Some rooms in the main building share European-style bathrooms.

EXTRAS: The hotel’s Sunday brunch, served in the quaint, old-fashioned dining room, offers chicken-fried steak, linguica with eggs and tall stacks of pancakes. But it’s the saloon, with its Gold Rush ambience and folksy bartender, that’s the standout. Save some room to sample the ice cream sundaes, lemon bars and chocolate-peanut butter brownies at Kneading Dough, the bakery next door.

DETAILS: Rooms run $55-$209. 16104 Main St., Volcano; www.stgeorgevolcano.com

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