As word spread, Bedford Springs began to draw wealthy Southerners and, later in the 1870s, 80s and 90s, the elite of cities like New York and Philadelphia. By 1905, a series of new additions had increased the number of guests the hotel could accommodate, and the nation’s first indoor Olympic-size pool was added, complete with an elevated opera box from which musicians could entertain the swimmers.
If you take Mallow’s tour, ask him to point out the guest ledgers that date back to the 1840s displayed under glass cases as well as President Buchanan’s desk, the copy of the first transatlantic telegraph message sent to him at the hotel on August 12, 1858, by Queen Victoria and the silhouettes in the First Ladies Parlor of the US presidents and their wives who stayed at the resort.
In the Duke of Bedford Library, have him identify the windows that bear witness to the custom of newlywed brides supposedly testing the authenticity of their diamond rings by inscribing their name in the glass panes.
With history around every corner, the hotel is surprisingly in very good shape, thanks to a $120 million renovation project completed in 2007. WiFi, a state-of-the-art fitness center open 24 -7 and the Springs Eternal Spa complete with all the latest treatments are just as home here as the old copper kettles, the massive earthenware cask and display cases of implements like antique axes and other tools located outside the rustic 1796 Restaurant.
Inside the upscale steak and chop house, check out the case of antique Pennsylvania long rifles and the wonderful series of antique coverlets hung behind glass along one wall.
If You’re Going . . .
For things to do, the resort has 25 miles of hiking trails, an outdoor stone fire pit for making S’mores in clement weather, an elegant afternoon tea presided over by host David Weir, and one of North America’s oldest golf courses, laid out in 1875 by Spencer Oldham. In 1912, the old course was changed from an 18 to a 9-hole course by golf course legend, A.W. Tillinghast.