Todos Santos is a friendly coastal town at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, on the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula. It’s about an hour’s drive from the bustling resort town of Cabo San Lucas.
While the town is small (pop. 5,500), and recognized as a haven for artists, its most celebrated attraction is the Hotel California. For travelers to Los Cabos, a day trip or overnight stay at this legendary landmark is a must-do, especially for fans of the hit song by the Eagles.
Even though the name association is there, the song does not specifically reference this particular hotel, nor any other existing hotel. But the dark desert highway does, in fact, lead to this Hotel California. Do the hotel and the Eagles famous tune have a connection?
“We’re not sure,” says Adolfo Blanco, manager of the hotel. “But you can hear the mission bell from here, as the lyrics go. How many other hotels can tout that?” Next door to Hotel California is the original mission founded by father Jaime Bravo in what is now Todos Santos. It was later named Mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Santos.
Could it be, as the song says, the dark desert highway is actually Highway 19 from Cabo San Lucas? “We’re not sure,” reiterates Blanco. “But how many clues do you need?”
Whether legend, truth or lore, it’s fun to speculate. Guests in the hotel’s restaurant are reminded where they are, as the song plays from one of the Eagles’ live concerts. If the place had been named Hotel Todos Santos, it probably would not be the draw that it is today. The hotel opened in 1950, 28 years before the song was bestowed Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
The song’s long guitar solo has been voted the best guitar solo of all time. The lyrics have been given various interpretations by fans and critics alike. The Eagles themselves described the song as their “interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.” In the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, singer Don Henley is on record as saying that the song was about “a journey from innocence to experience, that’s all.”
The Hotel California was founded in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong. After three years of construction, it opened on February 5, 1950. Mr. Wong lived in the 16 room hotel with his wife and seven daughters.
Over the course of time the hotel fell into disrepair. In 2001, Canadians John and Debbie Stewart purchased the property. The award-winning renovation was applauded for its décor and design. Today the hotel has 11 suites, a true boutique getaway experience, complete with restaurant, bar and gift shop.
As the lyrics advise, relax said the night man. Sure, you can check out any time you like, but who wants to? The ambiance, accommodations, hospitality and margaritas make you want to stay.
How many times has Adolfo Blanco been asked if the hotel was the inspiration for the song? He smiles and says, “At least four or five times a day.”
When you go
If staying in Los Cabos or La Paz, check with your hotel concierge. Several companies offer tours to Todos Santos. Should you rent a car, the drive is safe and scenic along the four lane highway through the stark cacti-filled terrain. Select cruise lines also offer an excursion that visits the hotel. Suite rates start at about $100, depending on time of year.
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: (011-52) 612-145-0525.