The Mission Inn's mission-laden lobby carpet has been split into distinct squares and will go up for auction, in Riverside, on Thursday, June 19.
If the topic of hotel carpet comes up, you can bet it has to do with the carpet in question's a) loudness b) busyness c) unattractiveness or d) swirly-hued patterns.
Comedians like to pick on it, as do a lot of travelers, but, every once and awhile, a hotel carpet comes along that is so exceptional, so extraordinary, and so free of eye-popping, head-pounding patterns that fans of the hotel just have to own a pretty piece.
But taking hotel carpet isn't quite as easy as nabbing the occasional towel. Rather, an auction is sometimes scheduled, and a bit of grandness, which is very much the case with Riverside's landmark Mission Inn Hotel and Spa and its famous lobby carpet, the one depicting the California missions.
"Sections of the 90-foot carpet" will be sold at auction on Thursday evening, June 19, at the Mission Inn. It's the very carpet that ran the center course of the Mission Inn's much-visited lobby from the late 1990s to 2004, when it was removed in favor of marble tile.
Auction tickets are $75 and may be reserved by phone 951-788-9556 or 951-788-8241.
There are 21 missions in all -- you know that -- and the carpet sections measure about 4-by-8 feet. The carpet is wool, the scenes perfectly Golden State, and the aura of history is ever-present.
If you do go home with a section -- perhaps Mission Santa Barbara or Mission San Juan Capistrano -- you can ponder, with your guests, how many feet have trod upon it. Thousands is a good guess, or maybe millions. If you've ever been to the Mission Inn's holidaytime Festival of Lights, you know the shoe-sole traffic through the lobby can be beyond remarkable.
And even better than owning some very famous, very beautiful hotel carpet? The fact that the money raised helps out the nonprofit Mission Inn Foundation, which sponsors educational activities and other events.
There was a day when the castle-like beauty was fenced-off and fully shuttered, but that time has passed due in large part of the efforts of the foundation to keep one of our state's great hotels looking robust, well-maintained, much-visited, and full of people walking through that lobby come Christmastime, rug underfoot or not.