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“Has always been OK - lots of caveats” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Columbia Inn Motel

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Columbia Inn Motel
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Columbia
San Francisco
Level Contributor
45 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
“Has always been OK - lots of caveats”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2011

I've been coming here for years, through a series of owners and managers, and seen the place go through various stages. The big “plus” is the location. Columbia is one of my go-to getaways from the Bay Area, and the motel is just across the road from the state historic park and preserved Gold Rush town. I like to walk and hang out around the town, and go for nighttime strolls when it’s quiet and looks like an Old West movie setting. Other than the costlier historic hotels, this is the only lodging where that’s possible. It’s convenient for driving to Sonora, Angel’s Camp, Murphy’s, Twain Harte, or Pinecrest. An overall “very good” rating is not just for the motel, which is not truly “very good,” but for all the advantages of staying there.

As to the “stages” it has gone through… I recall when the pool was open, the ice machine worked, there was full-time staffing and the lobby was open with a sitting area and reading material. I also recall when some rooms were SROs for folks in rehab, just paroled, or a step above homelessness. The place has had a lingering reputation. What it is now is nothing like what it has been at some other times. And yet, in all the years I have been coming, I have never truly felt unsafe. I’ve always found the staff to be courteous and helpful, and those owners I’ve met were also cordial.

For the cost, it’s a decent place to stay and everything usually works. Yes, it's old and needs work. The potted plants are dead, the soda and ice machines have been for years, the stairs are decrepit, and the room carpets are worn. On one recent visit, I had to ask for a lightbulb and the phone plug kept falling out of the wall jack. But the rooms have always been clean and stocked, and they have microwaves and mini fridges.

On two visits this spring, the lobby has been unstaffed; you'd ring a bell to call the manager, or the manager would see you coming because she and her husband lived in the motel. Housekeeping was by request only, by hanging the door sign or telling the manager (however, she asked every time she saw me if I needed anything). The reason: no staff. The only employees were these two, one partly disabled, who were expected to function as manager, desk clerk, maintenance and laundry worker (laundry is done in-house), housekeeper by request, and whatever else needed doing. The owners would not hire anyone else. When these owners bought the inn, their main hotel experience was from one of them being a maid, then they got the notion that they wanted their own place. They own a restaurant in Sonora that evidently takes much or most of their energy. They also do inefficient things like going to Costco in Modesto or buying light bulbs half a dozen at a time, when they could be using vendors that make bulk sales and deliver.

The pool is permanently closed because it does not meet current safety codes and upgrading it would cost too much. It is kept full and covered because draining it would cause it to dry out and crack, according to the manager. I've often suggested to the manager that it should be replaced with a landscaped area with chairs, picnic tables, and other niceties for guests to use in good weather. There is now no such area. She said it had been mentioned to the owners--but that would cost money too. The manager also said she would like to see the lobby open to guests, which would require full-time desk staffing; it has a TV that she said the owners put in for their enjoyment, and a couch littered with hair shed by the owners’ dog, but I don’t think I’ve seen the owners in the lobby in 2-3 years.

I can air this now because the manager confided that she and her husband planned to give notice soon and leave at the end of June. I wished them well; I’ve enjoyed staying over the years and they were always cordial and pleasant. She had no idea what the situation might be like once they left, and of course, neither do I. I hope it works out, that the owners can get new staff and keep the motel in business. If they come to their senses, have adequate staff, and make a few changes and improvements, this could be a much better place and be filled every night with people who want to enjoy historic Columbia.

If you’re interested in staying, call ahead or check the website to be sure it’s open. Get a room on the front side, facing the parking lot. There are rooms on the back side, which is upstairs because the building is built into a hillside. The hillside is covered with trees and gets very little sunlight, so it’s colder and darker and has a vaguely damp feeling. If you’re skittish, it can also be a bit spooky; you never see people or activity in the back, and you can easily imagine your next-door, long-term tenant neighbor shooting up, cooking meth, or counting the loot from his/her latest mini-mart stick-up.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Frisco_Roadrunner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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61 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    30
    16
    6
    2
    7
See reviews for
19
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8
Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Oakdale, California
Level Contributor
59 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 March 2011

This is one of those places that isn't actually a motel- it's a short term residence for tweekers. At check in I was denied a ground level room because that's where the "long term residents" stay. I mean laundry-hanging-outside-on-lawn-chairs type of residents. People were literally partying outside our room until dawn. We got no sleep and we spent the whole night scared to death someone was going to break in to our room.

  • Stayed February 2011
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank HoffBees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Flagstaff
1 review
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 August 2010

I am shocked that the fire department hasn't closed that place down for violations. I kept waiting for my foot to fall through the deck, the outside lights were falling off the walls and full of bugs. No lights for the stairs, so try that at midnight. There was so little hot water that I decided to skip the shower especially after I had to try to wash this amazing stream of working ants down the drain where they were coming up from, the pool was closed, the ice machine and soda machine was broken, and I couldn't keep my cell phone charger plugged into the outlet as it kept falling out. I kept thinking that I was staring in one of those hilarious vacation movies!. Oh! And try getting a second key from the manager. HO HO Ha. Good luck. No second key for you! You must share your key. Tough luck for you! One key per customer. She was the key Nazi. The entire place reminded me of old hotels on old rt 66 in Flagstaff where the drug dealers live.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled on business
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank shilii_nez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mayville, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
27 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 June 2010

stayed here again for our annual prospecting trip. once again the hospitality of the folks there didnt disapoint us. sure a bit of work on the place is needed, but a nice comfy bed and hot shower after a hard day of gold digging is all we needed. that makes this place a great value for us. i am not sure what others expect of this place? they want the quality of the ritz-carlton at bargain prices apparently. the rooms are clean, everything works, and the managers are top notch. i dont always get that at high end hotels. we will most definately be back again next year!!

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank trussbypaul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Camp Nelson, California
Level Contributor
70 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 October 2009

The only way to describe this place is shabby. Old carpet, old furniture, peeling wall paper, torn carpet on the outside stairs. The pool water was green, and the pool closed. It would look better if it was drained! Very little furniture in the room, and no comfortable place to sit. One straight back chair with a loose back, and the bed. No security latch on the door.

On the up side, the staff was friendly on seemed to work hard. After some searching, they found batteries for the dead TV remote and brought them to the room. The bathroom was very clean, and the bathroom linen was nice and clean. The sheets on the bed were chrisp and the bed comfortable.

Over all, I can't say I would stay again until some work is done on the place. The torn carpet around the top of the stairs is, in my opinion, a very real tripping hazard.

  • Stayed October 2009, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Watermaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
128 reviews
112 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 September 2009

Yes it is a bit old, but it is a great value for the area. It was a bit warm when we were there so I cannot comment on the heat, but the A/C worked fine. The lady at the desk is nice and helpful too.

  • Stayed September 2009, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank sukhoi_584th
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berkeley
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 September 2009

We booked on-line and when we arrived, we decided the pictures on the web, must be very old. We tried to put on a brave face and reassure the kids. When we pulled into the parket lot and saw the mold on the canopy over the entrance. There was someone living in one unit full time, they had a BBQ going outside their room and stacks of boxes and stuff along side the building (they had the corner unit). It was August and 100 degrees. When we saw the pool (green, trashed and closed) we inquired and found it had been closed by the health department. That was enough for us. We headed to Sonora. We chose to pay extra to be anywhere but there. We stayed in two other hotels and they both had stores to tell about the Columbia Inn. I asked for the owner to call me, but they never did. Tried to e-mail them, but they stopped corresponding. Please beware. Please also know, we didn't stay here. I couldn't do that to my family, perhaps the inside of the rooms were better, i cannot speak to that and want to be completely candid.
Thanks

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
Helpful?
1 Thank NorCalDadGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Columbia Inn Motel

Property: Columbia Inn Motel
Address: 22646 Broadway St, Columbia, CA 95310
Region: United States > California > Columbia
Amenities:
Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Columbia
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rob and his fiancé Cheryl have put a lot of hard work, dedication and passion into the Columbia Inn Motel to make it a positive experience. We enjoy meeting and getting to enjoy our guests personally. Our goal is to make everyone feel at home while visiting ours. Rob served 14 years in the Air Force and has had several ventures since. One of which is 49er Mining Supplies, that he opened in 2001 and is currently located adjacent to the motel office. Rob's knowledge of mining is vast and he loves sharing with all. We invite you to come to the Columbia Inn Motel located in the heart of the Mother Lode and take a step back in time. Be sure you take time to visit the historic Columbia State Park which is a short walking distance from us. ... more   less 

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