The best part about the charming Mountain Home Inn—besides the views, the spacious, comfortable rooms with fireplaces or private decks, and the gourmet food—is its location.Trails heading out in various directions are literally right out the door: to the top of Mt. Tamalpais, down to Muir Woods, across the mountain to Stinson Beach, down through a pine forest to Mill Valley.
A sustained tradition of serenity
Among towering redwoods and mountain scenery, we’ve carved out a place that feels like another world—just 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. This scenic drive will take you through time to Mt. Tamalpais, the getaway of choice for 19th century San Franciscans.
They came to see meteor showers and soaring hawks. To stand toe-to-toe with awe-inspiring offerings of nature. And to remind themselves that humankind can exist with its surroundings.
All these years later, such traditions continue. At the Mountain Home Inn, we use eco-friendly supplies and practices. We keep our landscape and gardens pesticide-free.
All because this has long been a special place. And it should remain so long after we’re gone.
the history of mountain home inn
Until 1885, the only way up the mountain was by cowtrail. In 1886, a scenic railway known as the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” was built. It had 22 trestles and 281 curves. The round-trip cost $1.00 from Mill Valley and $1.40 from San Francisco.
In 1912 a Swiss-German couple homesick for the Alps decided to build a mountainside inn on Mt. Tamalpais. They reportedly camped all over the mountain looking for the best combination of weather and views. Claude Meyers and his wife found their desired site on a Mt. Tamalpais ridgeline straddling the ocean and San Francisco Bay.
This area of Tamalpais became known as “Little Switzerland” as more Swiss and German people came and built hiking and tourist clubs here.
Overnight guests include Jack London, a friend of an early owner, and the Grateful Dead.
The Inn became a Tamalpais landmark and a stop along the railroad route. For a long time it marked the end of the paved road on Mt. Tamalpais. Grandfathered in because of its historic status, the inn is the only commercial property permitted on the mountain.
In the 1930’s a spark from a train started a fire, causing the railroad to shut down for good. The “Old Railroad Grade” evolved into a hiking and mountain biking trail.
A mid-century menu notes the Inn had become the “oldest continuously operating restaurant in Marin and one of the oldest in the Bay Area.” During that era, it was owned by Mr. and Mrs.Pat Vincent and featured servers in lederhosen and dirndls.
In the 1970’s another in a line of colorful owners bought the Mountain Home Inn. Dieter Dengler’s life story became a book and later a movie by Werner Herzog entitled “Rescue Dawn” starring Christian Bale.
By the early 1980’s the inn was falling into disrepair and not functional as a guesthouse. The new owners hired architect John Deamer to renovate and bring it all up to code. John was a student of Paolo Solveri, the found of the concept “Arcology”, architecture coherent with ecology. Paolo studied under Frank Lloyd Wright who in 1991 the American Institute of Architects designated “the greatest American architect”. Their influences can be see in the expanse of windows, use of wood, and the blending of the interior with the exterior.
A soaring lobby was added to connect the street-side cafe with the guestrooms below. The inn’s new lobby was inspired by the Grand National Park Hotels of the 1930’s and their influences can be seen in the hardwood floors, redwood columns and the natural structure of the inn.
mt. tam legends & myths
Excerpted from a Mill Valley Herald article:
Praising Mt. Tamalpais, Marin’s Holy Mountain
In the classic Mountain Play “Tamalpa” a beautiful young Miwok maiden falls in love with an Indian prince. When he abandoned her, she walked to the top of the mountain nearby and died of heartbreak. As she sobbed, the mountain heard her intense sorrow and took pity. When finally she died, the mountain was so moved by it changed its form, taking on the supine shape of her body and become the SleepingLady, our dear Mt. Tamalpais.
The Hopis from Arizona used to travel up the West Coast gathering supplies. They always tried to make a stop at a Mt. Tamalpais beach to gather Kachina shells. These shells were considered very religious and worn only by the Kachina dancers and dolls. Grandfather David Monongye, the Hopi elder and holder of the Prophesies, gathered the shells as late as 1973 by offering prayers and sweet grass offerings to the Goddess of the Ocean to deliver up a good supply. Needless to say, that while on other occasions the beach offered few gifts, on this occasion the beach was filled with little white mounds of Kachina shells.
During the 1980’s, as more and more people from all over the world discovered the quiet beauty of the woods surrounding the peak, several momentous religious events happened on the Mountain. The Dalai Lama of Tibet paid a visit to the mountain several times, once to pray for peace with others at the very peak.
The highly publicized Harmonic Convergence of 1989 had Mt. Tamalpais as one of the center points of the convergence. People gathered from around the West to meditate in its woods and held ceremonies for the healing of the earth.
press & accolades
We felt as if we were in the wilderness but the food was surprisingly urbane.
Waiters threw white tablecloths over the weathered wooden tables, where we sat sipping freshly squeezed orange juice, eating buttermilk pancakes and grits, and looking out over a view so beautiful it made you ache.
“The Inn has developed a faithful following among the cognoscenti of the outdoors.”
“Four days, 42 miles, 8,000 feet of climbing, six seasoned guides, 300-count sheets, and one really clutch hot tub.
I’m here for an adventurous four-day, 42-mile run through Marin County, a place with a reputation for fearsome hills and arguably the country’s best trail running. More than 500 miles of footpaths spiderweb through 40 federal, state, and county parks covering some 170,000 acres. The parks contain forests of towering redwoods, a coastline where elephant seals bellow on secluded beaches, and hills harboring Tule elk and half the bird species in North America.”
The Mountain Home Inn is one of a collection of Romantic Places that spans from the Old World to the New.
From Scotland to Wyoming and California, each property in the group offers something unique, capturing what is special about its surroundings—from the natural to the cultural to the historical. Ranging from quirky ancient inns to stately historic mansions, each of the Romantic Places offers an intimate experience for the well-travelled and sophisticated guest.
To learn more about our sister hotels, visit the Romantic Places website or click on the Romantic Places logo below.