Historic Balch Hotel Review

Are you looking for a boutique hotel that is located on the east end of the Columbia Gorge? My historic Balch Hotel review will give you a first-hand look into a stay in Dufur, Oregon. The Balch Hotel is independently owned and operated by a husband and wife couple who put great care into this historic property.

Three-story, red brick, historic Balch Hotel with white block letters on the top of the building, reading Balch Hotel 1907. Rectangular shaped glass windows are on either side of the top 2 stories of the hotel. Arcade-shaped windows are in the center of the brick building on top 2 stories. Ground floor glass door front entrance to the hotel is framed with 2 white banisters, serving as the base of the top two balconies over the 2nd and 3rd floor. Five cement steps lead to the front porch hotel entrance.

Located in Dufur, Oregon, with a current population of 641, the town was established in 1893. This historic hotel is located in the Mt. Hood Columbia Gorge area and is the first stop on Barlow Road out of The Dalles. History buffs will appreciate that you’ll be travelling on the Historic Oregon Trail as it passes through Dufur on your way toward Mt. Hood.

We arrived in the afternoon, having traveled from Eugene, Oregon, via Mt. Hood Territory. Having previously stayed at the historic Hood River Hotel, we were reminded that this part of the Columbia Gorge is popular with bike riders. The Balch Hotel is also extremely popular with bicyclists.

Balch Hotel lobby with 2 antique chandeliers suspended from ceiling. Reception check-in wood desk to right of room. Wood buffet tables with dark marble counter top to left of room. Three beige and wood chairs separate the lobby with beige sofa across the room. Three rectangular glass windows are on the outside wall, to the left of the reception desk. Square Oriental rug hold small, oval, glass-topped coffee table. Two small antique sofa chairs are on either side of small, pedestal wood table that acts as frame before lobby furniture runs into reception desk.

What makes historic Balch Hotel unique?

Built in 1907 and officially opened in 1908, the Balch Hotel’s location was selected for its close proximity to the stage coach stop by the Barlow Road on the Oregon Trail. The historic Oregon hotel was built to accommodate Great Southern Railroad passengers.

The historic 3-story Edwardian-style brick building was designed for Dufur businessman and rancher Charles Balch. Formerly serving as a motel, boarding house and private residence, the boutique Bed and Breakfast now features 20 historic guest rooms. Owned by Claire Sierra and Josiah Dean, the husband and wife team have added Balch Bistro, Sanctuary Spa and a small art gallery with artwork displayed in all bedrooms.

Balch Hotel parlor with bookcase. Brick red colored walls feature local art. A wooden antique bookcase holds books, a globe and antique black manual typewriter. A wooden rocking chair is to the right of the bookcase. Antique sofa is to the left of the room with small, oriental rectangular rug over the dark, hardwood plank floors. A small, portable floor fan is to the right of the sofa.

What are the Balch Hotel rooms like?

There are 14 traditional rooms, 5 signature rooms and 1 king suite at the historic Balch hotel. Traditional rooms share common baths, with 3 shared restrooms on each floor. There are 7 traditional rooms per floor. Most traditional rooms have in-room sinks and vanities. Signature hotel rooms have private, en suite baths. The king suite has a private bathroom with a jetted soaker tub.

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On our summer visit, we stayed in Signature room #24 on the third floor of the hotel. Being that the Balch Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, there is no elevator in this protected historic landmark. The hotel also does not have central air conditioning. However, all rooms have fans and/or portable air conditioning units. We didn’t find either of these situations to be a problem.

Our Signature queen room featured a pillow-top mattress, small desk and view of the patio below. The bathroom was fairly spacious with a shower/tub combination. Beekman 1802 bath amenities were offered, as well as a locally made goat milk soap. There was a hairdryer in room.

No coffee maker or tea kettle is available in-room. However, Post Canyon Coffee Roasters and Good Medicine Tea is available downstairs.

Queen bed with red brick colored bedspread. Three-pronged antique lamp suspended from ceiling. Square Oriental rug is under queen bed, over dark hardwood floors. A small Mt. Hood acrylic painting hangs over the bed and wooden headboard.

Hotel Balch Bistro dining

Upon check-in hotel guests are greeted with 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies. Being the cookie monster that I am, I came down the following afternoon for a cookie, but was told they were only for guests at check-in. Don’t miss your opportunity for a fresh baked cookie.

That evening we dined at Balch Bistro. Seeing that Hotel Balch is one of the few dining options in Dufur, you’ll want to be sure to make an advanced reservation at Balch Bistro. On our visit, the restaurant was open for dinner Friday and Saturday evening. Be sure to try the salmon cakes if you enjoy seafood. There’s also a weekend happy hour with a slight discount for local beer, wine and natural sodas.

Balch Bistro 3 salmon cakes, green salad with pickled onions, blueberries, walnuts and feta cheese. Second plate is top sirloin steak with sautéed mushrooms and roasted, sliced baby Yukon yellow potatoes.

A breakfast basket is served from 8:30 – 10: 00 a.m. Our basket consisted of vanilla yogurt, house made granola, scratch baked muffin, hard boiled egg and sliced orange and apple. Additionally, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and orange juice are available. There is a community mini fridge and microwave oven available to hotel guests, as well as cubed ice.

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Rates at historic Balch Hotel range from $102 – $328, depending on the season, day of the week and room category. The best value is fall and winter weekdays. Peak season rates fall on popular summer weekends.

The Balch Hotel is considered a refuge for adults, with an age requirement of 12+ years and up for overnight guests. As with most historic properties there is not a lot of sound-proofing. There are also no televisions or telephones in-room. This hotel hotel is a place to relax and enjoy the grounds.

Balch Spa Sanctuary room with massage table, oak plank wood floors, small white Governor Winthrop dresser with aroma therapy essential oils inside glass cabinet. Co-owner Claire Sierra's artwork is on the olive green walls in the hotel-room sized space.

Balch Spa Sanctuary

The Balch Hotel has an in-house Spa Sanctuary. Owned and operated by co-owner and LMT Claire Sierra, the spa offers energy healing treatments such as gem reiki. As Sierra is not a licensed massage therapist, I tried the 60 minute Aroma Touch Treatment. Using plant-based essential oils, Sierra gently pressed the oils into my back and feet, to reduce stress and support my immune system.

Things to see and do in and around Mt. Hood Territories include White River Falls State Park, white water rafting in nearby Maupin and visiting Mt. Hood and The Dalles.

WiFi is complimentary. Parking is self-park and complimentary. Check current rates on the hotel website. The hotel also offers 1 EV charging station, complimentary for hotel guests.

Hotel check-in time is 3:00 p.m. and check-out time is 11:00 a.m. The hotel has a limited number of pet-friendly rooms in both the traditional and signature rooms for an additional nightly fee. Ask about the Stash Rewards network, a loyalty program for boutique hotel guests.

Balch Hotel (541) 467-2277 info@balchhotel.com

40 South Heimrich Street

Dufur, Oregon 97021

Historic Balch Hotel review, YouTube video and all photography by Pacific Northwest travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Balch Hotel for review purposes.