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.