Destination California: Experience nostalgic charm at National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City

Destination California

NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — Surrounded by beautiful rivers and the deep green pine trees of the Tahoe National Forest lies a town that continues to exude the nostalgic charm of the 1850’s gold rush, Nevada City.

Nevada City is the home of the National Exchange Hotel, one of the oldest continuously operated hotels in the West. 

Built in 1856 along historic Broad Street, this Victorian-style masterpiece has come back to life after being shuttered for three long years.

Guests can once again stay in the 38-bedroom boutique hotel while enjoying fine dining or a casual cocktail at Lola’s Restaurant and Bar and be transported back to the posh times of the old west.

“There were a lot of gold mining towns up here and this was one of the only three-story hotels and Nevada City was kind of the crown jewel of all of the gold mining towns,” explained Ted Robinson, the hotel’s general manager.

The hotel was the town’s hub, attracting the who’s who of society, like Mark Twain and Lola Montez.

It also housed Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s first general office and even played host to the Wells Fargo Pony Express and the Western Union telegraph.

The hotel’s countless guests can still be found to this day.

“Guests would come, and they would check in. You see all of their signatures,” Kate told FOX40. “Coming in from San Francisco, Marysville. So, we have a handful of these books still on property, and it’s just incredible.”

The National Exchange wasn’t always as glamorous as it appears today. In fact, for years, it fell into disrepair until about 2018, when a new owner came in and started to do major renovations.

“We just finished a three-year renovation,” Robinson said. “Complete renovation with wiring, plumbing, ceiling, down to the wall but tried to bring back all of its beauty, Victorian charm. If we hadn’t taken it over, it might not be standing still.”

Many of the renovations at the National Exchange were done in part by Nevada County artists, historians and business owners who wanted to see the hotel restored to its former glory.

The $16 million price tag for the renovations appears to be well worth it to executive chef Tom Bevitori.

“The design team is just phenomenal. I mean, when you walk in this place, you can just feel the history but at the same time something new and so you almost get to create your own history,” Bevitori said. 

The National Exchange hotel truly is the gem of Nevada City.

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