I don’t often focus on accommodations here at Wandrin’ Round because I’m usually traveling with my family. When we travel together, the destination always trumps the accommodations. Spending money for a posh landing spot where we will only sleep, shower, and scarf some breakfast seems like a criminal waste of resources to me. We do not luxuriate on family trips; we explore and experience.
When Jay and I travel as a couple, however, rest and relaxation are often our only goals. The geographical location becomes secondary to the amenities and ambience of a particular hotel or bed and breakfast. The Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa is just the kind of place I’m talking about. Located about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh on the outskirts of Bedford, Pennsylvania, the resort is a perfectly mellow respite from the chaos of life. I had the great pleasure of wiling away Columbus Day weekend here with Jay, and we both agree it is one of the best hotels we’ve ever experienced.
Bedford Springs carries the distinction of being a National Historic Landmark and gives an exuberant nod to its unique American heritage. Although the current resort has only been in operation since 2007, the buildings and grounds date back to the late 1700’s. Stone House, the first real structure on the property, was erected by Dr. John Anderson in 1804 at a cost of less than $200 and 5 gallons of whiskey. From that single small building, Bedford Springs grew in size and reputation throughout the 1800’s, becoming the destination of wealthy families from Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. These visitors had the time and money to stay for months, enjoying the health benefits of the springs and the fresh mountain air.
During this time, some very famous people stayed at the hotel: Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, Aaron Burr, Thaddeus Stevens, James Polk, James Buchanan, Daniel Webster, John Brown , and John C. Calhoun (just to name a few). James Buchanan, in particular, and his niece Harriet, spent considerable time here. He received the very first transatlantic telegraph from Queen Victoria while vacationing at the Springs. I believe a total of seven presidents, including Ronald Reagan, visited the hotel at one time or another.
During WWII the hotel became an internment camp for Japanese Americans for a short period of time and then a naval radio training school. After one final renovation following the war, the hotel continued to operate into the 1980’s. In 1986, Bedford Springs Hotel was finally forced to shut its doors because of severe flood damage.
The property sat vacant and in disrepair until 2005, when a group of visionary investors bought it and began meticulously restoring and renovating the existing buildings and adding a new wing that included more suites and an award-winning spa. After two years of painstakingly detailed research, craftsmanship, and who knows how much money, the Bedford Springs Resort and Spa opened once again and has garnering awards ever since.
Although I love history, the story of the hotel is not enough to make it an exceptional experience for me. And, it is exceptional. This is why I think so:
- Outstanding service. Every staff member was friendly and attentive. Every single one. Period.
- Consistently delicious food. We ordered room service and dined in the Crystal Dining Room and the Frontier Tavern. Everything was excellent. Even the hot chocolate from the little coffee bar outside the pool area was perfectly rich and creamy.
- Clean, comfortable, spacious suite with a luxurious bathroom. Even though I felt the rooms in the older sections had more character, we chose a new Spa Suite because I wanted the soaking tub. It was perfect, right down to the walking sticks by the door – just in case we felt like taking a hike.
- Visually satisfying. Just take a look at the photos. I loved the different wallpapers and the herringbone pattern of the tile outside the pool area. The tile work in the spa was spectacular, too.
- Manicured property and meticulously maintained buildings. I’ll let the photos do the talking on this point,too.
- Dependable, easily accessed WiFi included in room rate. Such a small thing, I know, but it matters to me.
- Deep sense of history. A great deal of effort was invested in honoring the resort’s heritage. It is a National Historic Landmark after all. From the restored American flag that hangs behind the check-in desk, to the paint colors and light fixtures, to the black and white images of previous guests hanging throughout the resort, to the memorabilia displayed in the library and Tavern, the story of the resort is very well documented. It felt as if I was participating in a grand tradition.
- The Springs Eternal Spa. Hands down, the best massage I’ve ever had. The entire area is beautiful with every detail geared toward stress reduction and relaxation. My only regret is that we scheduled our massages right before we had to leave so we couldn’t linger (whichi s exactly what this place is made for).
[ Shober’s Run ]
[ Wedding Grotto ]
Several natural springs, whose healing powers were originally touted by the Native Americans, dot the property and give the resort its name. Most of them can be accessed by the 25 miles of trails the criss-cross the property.
[ Iron Spring ]
If you are interested in reading about some of the awards bestowed on the Omni Bedford Springs, scroll down to the Awards and Accolades section here. If you’re curious about what else we did in Bedford, check this out.