By Chad Chisholm, JustLuxe
Boise, Idaho. Not somewhere I had been dying to go on my list of global destinations. Falling into the trap of the potato, I never really even gave the city serious consideration. I was wrong. The vibrant city is not only full of surprises, from the dining scene, to undiscovered local Riesling, new museums and tech infrastructure as well as a deep and interesting history. The Inn at 500, sister property to Eugene, OR Inn at 5th, is a luxury stay steps from all the excitement Boise has to offer. I know, I just re-read that sentence, too.
A ten-minute door-to-door trip from the airport, the Inn at 500 picks up guests in their complimentary shuttle. If you’re lucky, you’ll have Dakota as your driver who is not only enthusiastic about Boise but can give you a brief history and point out landmarks along the way. This friendly demeanor continues throughout the property, each of the staff wearing red shoes (a favorite color of the boutique hotel’s owner) and greeting guests with a wholehearted smile.
Brian Obie, owner and CEO of Obie Companies, used to be in advertising, selling billboards. While traveling, he would wake up in a room and not know where he was, finding many hotels were sterile, cookie-cutter proficiencies. Keeping a journal with interesting experiences on his travels, he decided to incorporate a more homey feel to the rooms of his hotels. No two rooms are identical at Inn at 500, with 13 color pallets being used on the property. 109 sleeping rooms include 57 themed rooms that tastefully relate to Boise.
At check-in, local wines and beers are offered, as well as a serve-yourself snack and beverage bar that is included with your stay. One of the most interesting and unique aspects of the rooms is the butler pantry; a keyed “drop off” for any room service items that are left to your room, keeping both the hallways clear of clutter and the privacy of guests continuous when receiving room service items. A water program also cuts down on plastic bottle waste and pre-bagged ice is another thoughtful touch as Obie did not want guests having to request not being next to a noisy ice machine.
The only boutique hotel in Boise, 90% of the rooms have a balcony or terrace. 11 different room types afford guests a wide array of experiences, from the 5 spa suites to up to three bedroom-connecting suites perfect for multi-generational families traveling together. A pet-friendly floor is designated by local artist’s Jany Rae Seda mural work (found on each floor). 3 penthouse suites top off the $29 million, six-story building with a bathroom layout that will have guests wanting to move in permanently.
Complimentary cruiser bikes from the hotel are a great way to see the city and explore the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt. With stops along the way for lunch, craft brews, or local wines, the beautiful trail is an excellent way to spend an entire day out in the Boise sunshine. Nearby Quinn’s Pond offers SUP rentals and kayaks through Idaho River Sports, or just a great place to sit on the beach. The nearby Harry Morrison Dam affords thrill-seekers more whitewater conditions as well.
Back at the hotel, Richard’s is a popular restaurant for hotel guests and locals alike. Chef-owned and operated, the fresh fare can be found for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Italian-inspired, the culinary acumen of Chef Richard Langston is not to be missed.
Thoroughly surprised and delighted by the city, Boise is now on my “must return” to list of destinations. Whether traveling for culinary adventure, outdoor activities, or just want a relaxing getaway in a vibrant yet unpretentious city, Boise is the place to go. For rates and reservations to stay at Inn at 500, visit www.innat500.com.
While You’re There
Places I found particularly charming and noteworthy:
Serving bunch, lunch, and dinner, this is a must-stop while in Boise. Possibly one of the best quiches I’ve ever experienced, the subterranean restaurant also has a street-level patio, perfect to enjoy the high-quality, local cuisine. Owner Logan Smyser is an absolute joy and gives guests a true sense of Boise hospitality as a 6th generation Idahoan.
Boise Fry Company
With the burger on the side, this fry company specializes in all things potato. From choosing your potato varietal (sweet, purple, russet, gold, just to name a few), to your cut, seasoning and sauce, it is a French fry lovers dream come true.
The Basque Market
Home to the largest Basque population outside of Spain, Boise is home to some spectacular culinary and cultural Basque experiences. 100% Basque, owner Tony Eiguren cooks an authentic paella every Wednesday and Friday. Get there early though, because it goes quickly at $8.99 per person.
Great place to try out that Idaho Riesling. Founder and winemaker Leslie Preston is an artisan of the craft. Named after the Snake River Valley, each wine has a playful title referring back to the reptilian influence. The Rizza sparkling Brut Riesling is a must-try, but flights of the Black Mamba and Sidewinder are great additions, too.
Incredible food and breathtaking ambiance, Fork Restaurant is housed in Boise’s oldest historic bank building. With ownership’s dedication to local produce, #loyaltolocal goes above and beyond to provide an authentic dining experience you won’t soon forget while giving back to the community.
Speak like a local
An important distinction I found while there, is the pronunciation of the city. Not “boy-zee” as I had been mispronouncing for years, but “boy-see.”