Bakersfield’s most iconic building, the Spanish Colonial Revival Padre Hotel, stands sentinel on the corner of 18th and H Streets, and is home to Bakersfield’s only four-diamond lodging. The 1928 building’s chic lodgings and public spaces offer a gussied-up tribute to Bakersfield’s past, starting with the lobby’s 15-foot-high mural of a well-coiffed cowgirl glancing over her shoulder. Creative ornamentation pops up everywhere: Gargoyles protrude from the building’s exterior. A glowing neon sign crowns the roof. Colorful farm animals embellish the breakfast cafe’s ceiling. The wallpaper is adorned with cowboy hats, farm implements, and oil derricks.
See it all with or without a room reservation. The Padre offers a handful of public eateries, like the stately steak-and-lobster Belvedere Room, the grab-and-go breakfast spot Farmacy Cafe, or the rooftop Prairie Fire lounge, with fire pits for chilly winter evenings and cool misters for hot summer nights. For another evening stop, go to the speakeasy-style Brimstone Bar and Grill—with dark teak paneling, a stamped tin ceiling, and billiard tables—and imagine the velvet rafter swing that once hung from the ceiling, ridden by a swimsuit-clad beauty.
All of the 112 guest rooms are aptly swanky—thanks to an $18 million renovation in 2010 that restored the hotel to its rightful glory—decked out with chic furniture, leather-headboard beds with memory-foam mattresses, and sleek, glassed-in showers. If you’re staying for more than one night, splurge on one of the Padre’s posh suites, each with a separate living room, a couple of monumental flat-screen televisions, and a waterfall Jacuzzi tub.
The Padre Hotel has had its fair share of intriguing history too. Ghost hunters swear the building is haunted, particularly the seventh floor where workers regularly report hearing children’s laughter when no one is present. Some attribute the hauntings to the Padre’s previous owner, the irascible Milton “Spartacus” Miller, who bought the hotel in 1954. When city building inspectors told him that he had to bring the hotel up to fire code standards, Miller got so riled up that he hung protest signs from the Padre’s exterior and positioned a mock missile on the roof, pointed at City Hall (the missile is now at Bakersfield’s Kern County Museum).