The small town of Wabash, Indiana is located in Northeast Indiana, situated along the river, amidst farmlands and scattered woods. Over the past several years, this town has undergone a renewed revitalization, and on a recent trip home, I was able to experience one of the major restoration projects first hand—the Charley Creek Inn.
The Inn opened in 1920 as the Hotel Indiana when Wabash—a 3-hour drive from Chicago and 1.45-hour drive from Indianapolis—was a booming railroad town. Growing up, I knew it as the residential apartment building the Red Apple Inn. In 2007, Richard E. Ford bought the building and two years and $15 million dollars later the Inn was transformed into a landmark destination, which won the Outstanding Commercial Rehabilitation Award and the Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration.
Historic Luxury at Charley Creek Inn
Last time I visited Wabash, I toured Charley Creek Inn. This time, I had a hosted stay in one of its 30 luxurious boutique rooms. As I walked to the Inn, I took some time admiring its noble Georgian Revival exterior of red brick and straight lines against a bluebird sky. I also peered into the storefront windows that included a restaurant and bar, wine and cheese shop (one of my favorite stops in Wabash), and an old-fashioned ice cream and candy store.
Inside, the hotel the decor continued to impress with the afternoon sun brightening the room’s colors of peach, yellow and green. From the main room, visitors can easily access the shops and restaurant, as well as the downstairs ballroom. In a matter of minutes, I was checked-in and heading to my Romantic Deluxe Suite on the third floor.
My Suite at Charley Creek Inn
The Inn has 21 guest rooms and nine suites, which come with handmade king or queen beds. Suites range from one to three rooms. My spacious suite had an inviting living room with wood floors, hand-woven rugs, a couch, chairs, a fireplace, flat-screen television, and a kidney-bean shaped desk.
It also had a two-person soaking tub that overlooked the living room. In between the two rooms was a small kitchenette with a wet bar, refrigerator, and plates and glasses.
The bedroom quickly became my favorite room because of the fanciful vintage birdcage wallpaper and elegant decor. I was also impressed that the note on the bed said the handmade Stafford’s Pineapple Bed, with one side firm and one side soft, could be easily turned to your liking upon request.
Some of the rooms pay homage to important people from Wabash like singer Crystal Gayle, author and photographer Gene Stratton-Porter, and former owners the Dekau’s. There are also rooms that honor Indiana’s history, like the Big Four, Manchester College, and Huntington University.
All rooms come with modern amenities, including complimentary water bottles, a Keruig coffeemaker, complimentary use of the YMCA, free WiFi, and room service is available from the on-site restaurant Twenty.
Libations and Appetizers at Charley Creek Inn
Before my stay, my mother and I walked to Charley Creek Inn’s Wine and Cheese Shoppe for a free wine tasting. We sat next to the window with a view of the activity at Modoc’s Market and Chapman’s Brewing Company.
Guests receive three wine tastings free, and they can choose to buy a glass or a bottle. Being cheese lovers, we also decided to order a cheese tray ($12). It did not disappoint. The wine shop also sells wine, specialty liquors, beer and specialty cheeses, which you can enjoy right there, or take up to your room.
Afterward, we walked through the Inn to the Green Hat Lounge for a drink and appetizer. I ordered a beer, but they also have a selection of specialty martinis like Just Peachy, Banana Spilt and my favorite, a French Martini. For our appetizer, we decided on the crab cake with red peppers ($8).
A Trip Down Memory Lane at Charley Creek Inn
A stay at Charley Creek Inn isn’t complete without stopping at the Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe. If you are of a certain age, like me, you’ll remember many of their candies from your youth. There are jars of jelly beans, Charleston Chews, saltwater taffy, plenty of handmade chocolates, and more to tempt you. I settled on a small bag of cinnamon bears.
Breakfast at Twenty
The next morning we opted for breakfast at Twenty, whose decor highlights songs and music by Indiana natives Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichel.
We ordered eggs my way with hash browns and bacon ($6) and a full order of biscuits and gravy ($5). We decided the egg dish was the way to go for breakfast.
Leave the Lights On at Charley Creek Inn!
Before you leave, be sure to look up at the corner light post right outside the inn. From there hangs a replica of the Brush Carbon Arc light. In 1880, four of these arc lights were attached to the County Courthouse making Wabash the first electrically lighted city in the world.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.