By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Steven Meckler
From our second-floor room in Bisbee’s Hotel San Ramón, we can see the diverse cross-section of people who make up the life of this mining town turned tourist destination: middle-aged vacationers, in shorts and sneakers, strolling hand in hand; a shirtless man in dreadlocks, toting an odd assortment of instruments; and an attractive young couple, sipping cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon on the Copper Queen Hotel’s bar patio two doors down.
The open windows admit a gentle breeze, along with the sounds of Bisbee’s emerging nightlife. From the saloon, strains of Tom Petty’s Breakdown mix with the low murmur of conversation and the clink of beer bottles.
The Hotel San Ramón is a little like its surroundings: quirky and colorful, its layers of history on display but overlaid with contemporary touches.
Built in 1902, the brick building on the corner of Howell and Brewery avenues has lived more lives than a cat, serving at various times as a bathhouse for miners, mercantile, barbershop, ice cream parlor, telegraph office and tortilla factory, to name just a few. Today, the hotel occupies the second floor (once the offices of Bisbee Fuel & Feed Co.), above Santiago’s Mexican restaurant.
Earlier this afternoon, an attendant named Willow welcomed us in the tiny Día de los Muertos-themed gift shop that serves as the Hotel San Ramón’s lobby on the ground floor.
Entering through a separate door, we headed upstairs to tour the split-level hotel’s six rooms, spread out along wide hallways illuminated by clerestory windows. Late-afternoon sun, filtered by tree canopies at eye level, filled the rooms facing Brewery Gulch through 6-foot windows. Local kids like to come up here and look at the birds, Willow told us. A corner room, the Manzanita, looked spacious and light, with views of Brewery Gulch to the east and the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum to the south.
With lower ceilings and smaller, south- and west-facing windows, our studio-apartment-sized Agave suite lacks the bright, airy feel of those rooms. But what it lacks in roominess, it makes up in comfort, with a small midcentury kitchen with a Formica counter and linoleum floor, and a comfy, slipcovered love seat. On the frosted glass panel of the closet door, with its skeleton-key hardware, we can just make out the faded words: “Dr. Cruthers Law Office.”
Waking from a comfortable sleep the next morning, we secure the heavy drapes by their tasseled ropes and enjoy a pot of fresh-roasted Bisbee Coffee Co. brew while Old Bisbee comes to life on the street. Butterflies flit from flowers in the mining museum’s garden, and an endless parade of dog walkers passes below, along with young parents pushing strollers and bearing small children on their shoulders. In our own good time, we’ll head downstairs and join the procession.
Hotel San Ramón is located at 5 Howell Avenue in Bisbee. For more information, call 520-432-1901 or visit www.hotelsanramon.com.