Our History


From presidents to local politicians, miners to highwaymen, the historic Holbrooke Hotel has seen its share of historical events and visitors. Stephen and Clara Smith built the Adams Express Office and the Golden Gate Saloon which sadly, were destroyed by fire in 1855 along with most of Grass Valley. The Smiths rebuilt the popular saloon as a one story fieldstone building with a brick facade, making it safer from the threat of another fire. The Golden Gate Saloon is the oldest, continuously operated saloon west of the Mississippi River.

In 1862 a relative, Charles Smith, built the current structure and named it the Exchange Hotel. It was noted for its convenience to the local Gold Exchange. When the Gold Exchange closed, 18 ounces of pure gold were found in the carpeting. In 1879 the hotel was purchased by Ellen and Daniel Holbrooke and was given its current name. They continued to manage and operate the hotel until 1908. Over the years, the Hotel has hosted many famous guests that have included Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield and prize fighters 'Gentleman Jim' Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons. Famous authors Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Jack London were also guests of the Holbrooke Hotel. The hotel was frequented by entertainers Lola Montez, Lotta Crabtree and Emma Nevada.

In 1974 The Holbrooke Hotel was declared a California State Landmark, and in 2007 it was accepted into the Historic Hotels of America National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Recently purchased by the National Exchange Hotel Company, the property will remain open during an extensive renovation over the next year. The team plans to restore the historic hotel to its former glory as the best old dame in the west. 


Grass Valley, Ca


The Holbrooke is located in the City of Grass Valley, approximately two and a half hours north-east of San Francisco and an hour and a half from Lake Tahoe and Reno, NV. Situated on its original historic downtown site, the Holbrooke is in walking distance of a flourishing arts scene. There is live music and theater, antiques and shopping, galleries, cafes, fine dining restaurants and winery tasting rooms. 

Nearby you’ll find an abundance of year-around recreational activities including golf, hiking, mountain and road biking, and horseback riding. There is unparalleled car and motorcycle touring here, as well as boating, fishing, swimming, whitewater rafting, and bird-watching. In winter, visitors enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding within an hour of the Holbrooke.

Grass Valley and greater Nevada County is also home to several world-class events throughout the year including Cornish Christmas, The World Music Festival, Nevada City Classic Bicycle Race to name a few. Discover more local events below!



Town History

Grass Valley was incorporated in 1860 during the California gold rush and is home to the Empire Mine and North Star Mine, two of the richest mines in California. 

Many of those who came to settle in Grass Valley were tin miners from Cornwall, England. They were attracted to the California gold fields because the same skills needed for deep tin mining were needed for hardrock (deep) gold mining. 

Grass Valley still holds on to its Cornish heritage, with events such as its annual Cornish Christmas and St Piran's Day celebrations. Cornish pasties are a local favorite dish with a few restaurants in town specializing in recipes handed down from the original immigrant generation.


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The National Exchange Hotel Company was formed out of a desire to reimagine hospitality, inspire travel, and honor historic and architecturally significant buildings and their hidden-gem American towns. We've brought together the best and most creative folks from diverse industries to develop a new line of hotels for the modern tourist who prefers to visit as a local.

Our initial two properties are located in the heart of gold country, California. Click the link below to follow our renovation progress on The Holbrooke's sister property, The National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City, CA, and our plans for future hotels and markets.