The wifey and I decided to do a spontaneous getaway the other weekend. We just had no idea what to do with our Saturday while it drizzled outside down, but neither did we want to stay at home doing nothing. We’d been to the off the beaten track town of Port Costa, CA before and the decrepit old Burlington Hotel had always intrigued us. So, what the heck- no time like the present, right?
Port Costa was once a prosperous ferry and industrial port along the Sacramento River, about an hour outside San Francisco. During the late 1800’s it was a thriving and somewhat lawless boomtown (like so many in the those days). But as railways and modern technology passed it by, Port Costa declined in importance, and its population soon began to dwindle, its businesses shuttered and its houses became abandoned.
By the 1970’s, the entire town was almost slated for demolition, but through it all the 1883-built Burlington Hotel held fast. Now it holds the distinction as the longest continuously operating hotel in California. Though it’s probably seen better days, when it was once probably a bordello of ill repute, the Burlington and Port Costa in general simply ooze dilapidated Victorian history.
In decades past, you could pay the bartender from the biker bar across the street to get a key when you wanted to crash out in one of its rooms. Ravers in the 90s were supposed to have used it for wild parties as well. A co-worker who grew up in nearby Martinez said that when he was in high school, the rumor was that the pioneering porno film, “Beyond The Green Door” was also filmed here. He and friends would walk along the railroad tracks at night to the Warehouse Saloon and drink underage. Maybe that’s where they formulated their fantastical stories, who knows?
In any case, me and the missus wanted to check this place out and stay the night (there’s also reportedly a ghost living here as well). The adventure was just too tempting to pass up. Even more fun, each its rather rough around the edges rooms is named after a different lady of the night who purportedly once worked there.
And if there is any hotel that’s potentially haunted, The Burlington is undoubtedly a prime candidate. With peeling damask wallpaper, dusty chandeliers, mirrors so old that the reflection is rusted black- this place is seriously creepy. The hotel is semi-maintained in a state of glorious decay, much like the haunted movie set you’ve always dreamed of visiting. If these walls could speak…
The biggest problem about this hotel is that, with the exception of I think only one room, the rest have only shared bathrooms down the hall. That means if you get up in the middle of the night, you have to walk down these darkened, decaying, musty halls and try to find the bathroom half blind. Rumor has it that the ghost who lives here likes to come up behind people at night and tap them on the shoulder. Not while I’m taking a leak please… Shudder.
However, if you an survive the night here (a few shots at the rowdy bar next door always help) the downstairs lobby has an adjoining cafe that serves freshly made biscuits, coffee and honey made by the owner. Not a bad way to start the day I must say.
So, if you crave a little adventure off the beaten track, don’t care about luxury 5-Star accommodations, and don’t mind the occasional ectoplasmic, free-floating entity watching you while you sleep, the Burlington Hotel will be right up your alley. Port Costa is a charming and run down kinda of place, with a few other funky antique stores and old houses to check out. So with it’s sordid, whiskey-fueled, counterculture history, I give it all the Bohemian stamp of approval.