By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Steven Meckler
Owner Chris Brown jokes that the Inn at Castle Rock is the only hotel in Bisbee with a moat.
He’s referring to the cement aqueduct Bisbee residents built to channel the floodwaters that ripped through Tombstone Canyon in the town’s early days. Disastrous fires and floods pepper the town’s history. Rains carried pestilence and washed all sorts of debris — including a naked miner in his tub, according to one account — down the canal.
But the “moat” is hardly the property’s quirkiest feature. “It’s a lovely old building,” says Brown, a native of New Zealand. “As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to buy it.”
Miraculously, the Inn at Castle Rock survived both fires and floods, including the fire of 1908, which burned much of Old Bisbee to the ground, motivating residents to rebuild with the brick and stone that account for the town’s appearance today.
Bisbee’s first mayor built the inn as a boardinghouse for miners in 1895. It served as apartments for a while before opening as an inn in the 1980s. The ground floor, constructed of stone and Saltillo tile, contains the Apache Springs Well, a 19th century mine shaft that filled with water from a spring.
The shuttered hotel had become run-down by the time Brown bought it in 2009. He began the long process of restoring it but preserved the eclectic funkiness for which the hotel was known.
Fourteen quirky guest rooms, with names such as Crying Shame and Last Chance, line the inn’s second and third floors. Birdhouses dangle from a forested mural in Tasmania, and tapestries hang from the ceiling of the Sultan’s Harem. The Octagon Room (above), a peak-roofed common area on the third floor, feels like a treehouse, with tongue-and-groove oak flooring, a fireplace and windows that provide a bird’s-eye view.
But the inn’s most inviting areas are outdoors. Two rooms offer private patios, but most share long sitting porches, with hanging swings and Adirondack chairs, facing Castle Rock on Bisbee’s main street. And a bamboo forest extends along the back of the inn, its towering plants growing through holes cut into the corrugated patio cover.
Of course, like other historic hotels in this former mining town, the Inn at Castle Rock claims uninvited guests. The inn’s “Ghost Book” details accounts of these unseen visitors. Playful spirits reportedly open locked doors, play music and perform other pranks that, for the most part, don’t get too carried away. At least not as carried away as the miner in his tub.
The Inn at Castle Rock is located at 112 Tombstone Canyon Road in Bisbee. For more information, call 520-432-4449 or visit www.theinnatcastlerock.com.