Sep 24, 2019

Scenes from the Grant Hills Motel, Galena, Ill.

Galena, Ill., has long been one of my favorite nearby destinations for a weekend getaway.  It’s tucked into the northwesternmost point of Illinois, just four hours from my hometown of Springfield.  And it seemingly has something for everybody:  history, small town charm, shopping, good food and drink (the nearby wineries in particular are very popular), and spectacular scenery more reminiscent of Vermont than Illinois. 

Where you choose to stay in Galena is a matter of taste.  Nearby accommodations vary from cabin retreats to high-end resorts and ski lodges to an abundance of Victorian-era bed and breakfasts.  The B&B rooms are always in high demand for those romantics who want a stronger sense of the town’s historic charm from its 19th Century heyday.  But if you don’t mind your road trip to Galena sending you back to the 1970s rather than the 1890s, may I humbly suggest more suitable – and a lot more affordable – accommodations on the outskirts of town – the Grant Hills Motel. 

At this point, I have to admit I’m a little bit of a sucker for those few remaining family-run roadside motor hotels that flourished in an era before interstates. 

Especially the kind like the Grant Hills Motel where you literally drive up to your room.

So, when Punky and I were looking for a place that took pets, and we learned the staff at the Grant Hills Motel had rooms set aside for just that purpose, we couldn’t resist. 

The level of service afforded to fur babies was just one of the little things that made you feel personally welcome at the Grant Hills Motel.  They also offer a nice kitchen area, fully equipped for any guest to use. 

And don’t forget the heated pool …  good size and still in excellent condition after all these years.  

But the spacious grounds behind the hotel, complete with grilling station and a large fire pit, is one of the motel’s best features, and it’s where all the guests seem to congregate at night.  We certainly did, and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with other guests around a crackling fire under a clear night’s sky.    

As for the accommodations, it would be foolish to expect Four Seasons quality here, yet while the rooms have started to show their age in spots, we found ours to be perfectly clean and comfortable.       

The mini fridge was a nice touch and allowed us to chill some of the local wine we had purchased earlier in the day. 

The bathroom surprisingly had the most modern amenities of the motel room.  From the shower to the sink, everything seemed new or recently refurbished, although the size was still on par with an older property.        

Grant Hills also has a wider range of guest room options than you might expect, including a three bed room suitable for larger families.    

Location was another selling point for us.  Although the Grant Hills Motel is a little more than a mile from downtown Galena, it’s just a short scenic drive north on U.S. 20, down the hill and past the Ulysses S. Grant home, to get there. 

One thing that is within walking distance of the motel – adjacent, in fact – is the Blaum Brothers Distilling Company.  Their bourbons, vodka and gin are quite tasty, and their tasting room serves up some darn refreshing cocktails (orange whip, anyone?).  

Also nearby is Horseshoe Mound Preserve, which offers some of the most spectacular views of the entire countryside (if you squint, you can see the Grant Hills Motel in the distance).

The Grant Hills Motel has stayed true to itself serving tourists coming to Galena for as long as I can remember.  It really is a throwback to an era when each motel had a unique charm about it, for better or worse.  From my experience, a stay here is more than worth the money – and the money you save can be spent elsewhere in Galena.      

1 comment:

bluedog said...

Galena is a gem! Thanks for promoting dog friendly accomodations. I will stay here next time I visit. Love the old mom & pop businesses.

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