Oct 30, 2013

Scenes from the Dodge House Hotel and Restaurant

If I had to choose one aspect of my summer road trip to Colorado with my friend, Ken, and fake wife, Christine, that most exceeded our expectations, I would have to choose our side trip to Dodge City, Kan.  I had booked a night’s stay at the Dodge House Hotel for the return trip from Colorado on a lark (frankly, Dodge City was one of the only spots on the Kansas map I had ever had any remote interest in visiting), and Ken and Christine were kind enough to indulge me. 

Granted, the trip there from central Colorado left a lot to be desired.  Once you get past the Rockies, there’s just a whole lot of nothing (e.g, plains, prairie, corn and cattle) in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.  Even the historical significance of following parts of the original Santa Fe Trail along the Arkansas River wasn't exactly awe-inspiring.  So, by the time we outran a Kansas thunderstorm and drove past the stench of a gazillion stockyards around Garden City, we were ready to settle in for the night.      

Looks like we found the place ... 

The two biggest surprises I noticed when we arrived at the Dodge House Hotel were its size and location.  Since the Dodge House has been around since 1873, I was expecting more of a boutique-style hotel in the downtown area.  Instead, the modern Dodge House is much more than a hotel and restaurant – it’s a major conference center on the edge of the city.  Sure, it builds off of its storied tradition, but it also tries to provide just about every amenity possible to the family traveler, so it becomes as much of a destination as the other historical landmarks in town. 

The lobby is adorned, as you might expect with many Old West-themed decorations …

And in the center of the hotel is a large pool and arcade area, along with Old West “buildings” and other displays to entertain the kids.

Piano, anyone?

Swimming, anyone?

Not something you'd expect in just any hotel pool area ...  

Kitschy and toursity, but so what?  
OK, it entertained the grown-ups, too ...   

Admit it, you'd do this, too, if you were here.  
The rooms were spacious, modern and had every convenience you could ask for (e.g., coffee maker, mini refrigerator, microwave).  Even with a double-queen room, Ken had plenty of room to set up a third air mattress.  And the kicker – with tax, a night’s stay only set us back around $90.  Of course, the annual rodeo had just left town, but I still thought this was quite the bargain, especially when you consider the coupons they threw in toward an appetizer and buffet-style breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. 

Speaking of the Dodge House Restaurant and Saloon, once we checked in and got our bearings, we were eager to try out both.  After all, when you’re in Dodge City, a nice steak dinner and a trip to the local saloon just seem appropriate. 

Ken ordered an appetizer of stuffed mushrooms to start the meal.  And honestly, these were some of the largest mushrooms I have ever seen.  Stuffing them with cream cheese before deep-frying them made them absolutely decadent.  I don’t think any of us were sure we’d have room for steak after that, but I ordered their signature rib eye and promised to give it my best shot. 

Before ... 

... and after.
Yeah, it was a belly buster.  That didn't stop me and Ken from moseying on over to the adjacent saloon.  And as full as we were, it was a slow mosey. 

With a bar built in the 1800's and imported from Italy, the Dodge House Saloon had plenty enough history to set itself apart from your typical hotel bar.  Frankly, from my brief time driving through the town, it’s probably one of the better bars in Dodge City, period.  It had two things I always like – a well-stocked selection of spirits and decent prices.  And the bartender didn't seem to mind our company on a slow Monday night, either. 

Thank you, Adolph Coors, wherever you are. 
Although I was still stuffed from dinner, I managed to finish another Coors (or two) at the saloon.  Considering the meal we had just completed, the original banquet beer seemed to be the most appropriate choice. And before long, the saloon shut down behind its authentic wooden swinging doors, and we called it a night. 

No more swinging here tonight
The Dodge House Hotel … and Restaurant … and Saloon gave us a great welcome to Dodge City.  If you’re ever on the trail, just passing through, or plan on staying a while, you owe it to yourself to stay here and experience something more than what a chain hotel offers.   

Look for the second part of our Dodge City detour in my next post. 

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