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The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

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By: Kristen Turner

Southern California’s Hidden Hideaway:

Hidden away on the streets of downtown Riverside, California is The Historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, where rich history meets modern luxury. With its elegant Tuscan-inspired décor and breathtaking architecture, this Inland Southern California icon is the best excuse since Disneyland for Southern California visitors to skip the beach and head inland.

A Historic Landmark

Originally, a 12-room adobe guesthouse in 1876, the hotel catered to wealthy easterners and Europeans who ventured to Riverside for its lucrative citrus industry. Riverside, at the time, was the richest city per capita in the country so the influx of frequent visitors and tourists was tremendous. To meet demand for a larger, more upscale place to stay, then Master of the Inn, Frank Miller began renovations and opened the first wing of the new hotel in 1903. In addition to the original Mission Wing, Miller added the Cloister, the Spanish and the Rotunda Wings, completing construction in 1931.

The Mission Inn is a hotel, a museum, an arts center and a historical landmark. Its eccentric-chic décor is a nod to Miller who in all his travels acquired art of all kinds – from the Tiffany stained glass windows and the gold leaf altar in the St. Francis Chapel to the bells and Oriental objects found throughout the Inn.

Beginning in 1955, the Inn went through a series of ownerships and served for a term as a dormitory for UC Riverside students. In 1985, it was acquired by the Carley Capital Group, which restored and modernized the property and corrected structural problems. The cost was higher than expected and the bank foreclosed on the loan. Finally, in December 1992, the Inn was sold to Duane Roberts and he opened it in its renewed status on December 30, 1992.

Ever since, The Mission Inn has celebrated the holidays with its annual Festival of Lights. A gift from the Roberts to the community of Riverside, Festival of Lights has become a Southern California tradition and is one of the largest collections of lights on the West Coast featuring 3.6 million dazzling holiday lights, fireworks, musical and dance acts, and more than 400 animated characters like angels, elves and reindeer in every corner and throughout the property.

This year marks the 19th annual event, and the festivities begin with the flip of a switch the day after Thanksgiving in a ceremony presented by Duane and Kelly Roberts. Instantly, downtown Riverside is charged with the wonder, magic and anticipation of the holidays. The switch-on ceremony draws about 55,000 visitors each year and is not to be missed!

Meet the Roberts

Striking and sophisticated, refined and charitable, Kelly Roberts is classic with a unique style and distinct beauty. A devoted wife and a loving mother of two, Kelly is both family-focused and a savvy, well-respected businesswoman. Her knack for fashion, philanthropy and business is insatiable and her zest for life is incomparable. Kelly holds the position of Chief Operating Officer for The Historic Mission Inn Corporation and is the visionary behind Kelly’s Spa where she has launched a botanical line of products called Kelly’s Fountain of Youth Collections.

A well-respected entrepreneur and community philanthropist, Duane Roberts originally hails from Riverside and entered the business world under the guidance of his parents. His entrepreneurial spirit was born at a young age. While still in his teens and working for his family’s meat company, he realized that fast food would soon become central to the American diet and shortly thereafter, he formulated and introduced the world’s first commercially available frozen burrito. In 1964, he became president of Butcher Boy Food Products, Inc., and by 1980, he had built Butcher Boy into the largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the world. He sold the company in 1980 and embarked on a career as an investor.

Rooms and Suites

More than just a place to rest your head, each of the 238 rooms and suites at The Historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa boast plush Mission Revival style aesthetic with modern day conveniences. While staying true to the stunning architecture and design of the hotel’s overall concept, each room offers its own distinct details, ensuring a truly unique experience during your stay. For special occasions or larger parties, the hotel also offers 27 lavish suites.

“Our rooms and suites offer the best in modern, convenient amenities - from flat-panel televisions and in-room high speed Internet access to recently renovated bathrooms and stylish furnishings,” said Duane and Kelly Roberts, Owners and Keepers of the Inn. “Amenities geared toward children, including child-size bathrobes, night lights, games and puzzles ensure even our youngest guests feel pampered.”


From light and healthy spa fare to decadent steaks and expertly crafted cocktails, The Mission Inn offers a little taste of everything for hungry guests.“There’s something for all tastes at The Historic Mission Inn, whether comfort foods and the Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Mission Inn Restaurant, the must-have Lobster Tempura at Duane’s, or a sweet treat from Casey’s Cupcakes,” said Duane and Kelly Roberts.

Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood
Inland Southern California’s only AAA Four-Diamond Rated Restaurant. Savor USDA Prime steaks and expertly prepared seafood with accompaniments such as Garlic and Truffle Oil Fries and Tuscany Risotto.

54° at Duane’s

54° at Duane’s
The perfect place for a nightcap or a wine tasting with friends, 54° at Duane’s offers more than 32 wines by the glass and a wine cellar of more than 7,000 bottles. All wines at 54° at Duane’s are preserved in Inland Southern California’s first Cruvinet System, a temperature-controlled wine dispensing and preservation system to enhance the guest experience.

Mission Inn Restaurant
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this open-air restaurant offers something for every palate and even includes a wide variety of healthy cuisine options.

Las Campana

Las Campanas
Unwind with a margarita and traditional Mexican fare at Las Campanas, The Mission Inn’s exclusive Mexican Cuisine and Cantina.

Bella Trattoria
Sidewalk dining at its best. Enjoy Italian favorites like pizza, pasta and paninis.

Presidential Lounge
Enter a regal bar and cocktail lounge fit for a president. Indulge in a JFK Cosmopolitan or a Herbert Hoover Lemon Drop.

Casey’s Cupcakes
The official sweet spot of The Historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa. Be sure to read our feature on Casey’s Cupcakes.

Kelly’s Spa

Voted Best Day Spa by Good Day L.A.’s Hot List, Kelly’s Spa offers guests a tranquil experience in a luxurious castle-like environment. From massages to body wraps, facials to nail services, this quiet oasis is the perfect place to slip away for a few hours of pampering and unwinding.

‘‘Stepping into Kelly’s Spa, guests are whisked away to luxurious, Old World Tuscany – a place to renew body, mind and soul, ‘‘

said Kelly Roberts. “Just as the Inn’s original owner, Frank Miller, traveled the world bringing back one-of-a-kind treasures, I bring the best spa treatments used throughout the world to the guests of Kelly’s Spa.” In addition to a full range of spa services, Kelly’s Spa boasts the following amenities:

  • Two therapeutic bath suites and a nail salon
  • Modern Wellness Program including Yoga, Pilates and Personal Fitness Instructed Classes
  • Beautifully Appointed Private Poolside Tuscan Villas
  • Eucalyptus Steam Room and Sparkling Heated Pool & Hot Tub Spa
  • Specially designed treatments available for Gentlemen, Couples, Bridal Parties & Mothers-to-be

Kelly’s Boutique

From clothing to sundries, cigars to gifts, Kelly’s Boutique offers guests a convenient, and luxurious, shopping experience. Want to bring home a piece of The Mission Inn? You are sure to find the perfect souvenir from your stay at this  sophisticated boutique.

Events at the Mission Inn

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa offers amazing venue spaces for creating elegant, memorable affairs. Whether you are planning a company meeting or a formal wedding, their highly trained, dedicated event staff will work with you from start through finish to ensure your event goes off without a hitch.

“The Historic Mission Inn houses the only hotel chapel in Inland Southern California,”
- Duane and Kelly Roberts.

‘‘The hotel’s stunning architecture and dramatic doors of the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel make for a romantic backdrop for nearly 400 weddings a year.‘‘

Ready to book your room or special event at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa?

Fun Facts About the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

  • During his tenure as Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has stayed at The Historic Mission Inn. 
  • In 1909, Carrie Jacobs-Bond wrote the lyrics for her famous song A Perfect Day while staying in the Mission Inn. For many years, The Mission Inn’s carillon played A Perfect Day as the last tune each evening.
  • American author Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire), enjoyed staying at the hotel so much that she incorporated it into her 2009 best-seller, Angel Time. The book, much of which was written in the exquisite Amistad Suite, is the first in Rice’s Songs of the Seraphim series, which tells the story of Toby O’Dare, an assassin with a tragic past, who uses The Mission Inn as his refuge.
  • Ronald and Nancy Reagan as well as Richard and Pat Nixon and Bette Davis have married and honeymooned at The Mission Inn.
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