written by Cara Strickland photography by The Royal Block
Waitsburg might not ring a bell just yet, but it’s a brisk half hour north of Walla Walla, and the site of several treasures, including this freshly minted boutique hotel. Owners Tiina Jaatinen and Joe Roberts visited in January of 2020, ready for a change from their home on Whidbey Island. They fell in love with the space, which has lived through many phases, but began life as a hotel in 1888, also called The Royal Block. As the pandemic spread, Tiina and Joe began the renovation project of a lifetime, finding owls upstairs and raccoons in the basement. When you walk into the light, bright, space now, you won’t find a whisper of that challenging beginning, but you will discover plenty of nods to the history of the building and an aesthetic that blends Jaatinen’s Finnish roots with Roberts’ American ones—they call it American bones with Nordic skin—you will want to call it your new hideaway in wine country.
With just a handful of rooms on offer, it shows subtle differences between each space. Though they share the same thoughtful minimalist style, locally made toiletries and high caliber art, the rooms are a mix where some have bathtubs and showers, and some with just spacious showers. All the rooms have dedicated hot water, which means that you can bathe to your heart’s content without sacrificing temperature. If you’re feeling peckish, you can pop next door to the coffee shop for breakfast and local brew, walk to a small but mighty choice of restaurants, or take the short drive to Walla Walla.
Along with the beautiful rooms, downstairs in the lobby you’ll find a windowed wine bar, open Thursday-Saturday in the afternoon and evening hours. Enjoy wines and beer from the local region, or buy a glass or a bottle to take up to your room. The lobby and wine bar space also double as a small event area.
222 MAIN ST.
This is a beautiful property I can’t wait to visit.