Old has become new again in downtown Hopland, an unlikely development that is transforming this once-sleepy little town in southern Mendocino County into a budding tourist destination.
At the heart of this change is the Thatcher Hotel, which reopened after a long renovation in late 2019.
The facility dates to 1890 and today exemplifies boutique luxury. It boasts 18 spacious rooms, a lobby with the original bar, a small café and a backyard patio with a small pool and conversation pits large enough to comfortably entertain the entire San Francisco 49ers roster.
The hotel is open from Thursday to Sunday until the end of spring, at which point it will be open to accommodate guests all week.
“We like to think of this place as more than just an inn or hotel — staying here really is a historical experience,” said General Manager Amy Pardini. “You come, you relax, you unwind and you appreciate the little things. For us that’s what being in Mendocino County is all about.”
Long history, bright future
To call the Thatcher an icon would be an understatement — the Victorian-style inn has graced the center of downtown Hopland since the late 1800s.
Back then, the train from San Francisco stopped at the Depot right behind the hotel, which meant the stately building was one of the first things they saw before they disembarked. Thatcher spared no expense in building the original, outfitting the structure with a copper steeple, tin ceilings and other ornate details.
Over the years the hotel changed as Hopland did — popularity ebbing and flowing as visitors came through town. At one point, the name switched from the Thatcher to the Hopland Hotel, which stuck until very recently.
The lobby bar, an inviting space with a hulking wooden facade, remained a popular gathering spot.
Finally, after years of neglect, the hotel shuttered its doors in the early part of last decade. Local entrepreneur Gary Breen teamed with Mark Rogero to purchase the property in 2017 and began renovating it immediately. Almost $5 million and two years later, it reopened in October 2019.
Breen and his team are known in the area for having a sort of Midas touch with the properties they create. Breen himself is a bit of a local mover and shaker. He owns the Stock Farm inn and restaurant to the south, as well as Campovida, a small family farm and winery on the site of the old Valley Oaks property to the east. He is a developer and does most construction work himself.
When he stepped in on the Thatcher, locals were excited about the future.
Built with good bones
The resulting renovations, designed by Oakland-based Medium Plenty, did not disappoint. The current iteration of the hotel is an exhilarating mix of new and old.
Design fans love the color — a deep and slightly purple gray dubbed Kendall Charcoal.
Guest rooms — there are 18 in all — are spacious and decorated with minimalist style. One room has a clawfoot tub, other rooms on the third floor have built-in window seats. Upstairs, the hotel feels much larger than it seems, almost like it is defying the time/space continuum with secret square footage.
The lobby bar has been restored to its original grandeur and remains a hotspot on weekend nights; it is currently the only place in downtown Hopland that serves mixed drinks. The library, just behind the bar, is a throwback, too — the room is ringed with built-in bookcases, and original oil paintings hang on the walls. There’s a small eatery in the front named the Poppy Café that serves coffees, baked goods and sandwiches.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the new Thatcher Hotel is the patio — a tremendous space that is divided into smaller “rooms” by benches and greenery. Two individual conversation areas ring spacious fire pits. A small pool provides relief from the blazing summertime heat.
There’s even a small microbrewery out back, a gravel-lined event space and a bocce court.
“People often joke that they could spend their entire visit back here and never get bored,” Pardini said. “There’s really nothing like it anywhere else here in Hopland.”
Lots of visitors roll through town
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the new-and-improved Thatcher Hotel has had a significant impact on the local economy.
Business owners up and down Highway 101 said they have seen more tourism dollars coming into town, and noted they are expecting a big summer after enduring two years of sagging interest in visitation and travel.
Many noted the Thatcher and other recently opened businesses such as Stock Farm, the Golden Pig, and the MendoCann cannabis dispensary at the center of an ongoing renaissance for the town.