Lucky you and me. We carry a bedroom with us in our RVs. If we share it, it’s with our special someone. But back in the good ol’ days, there were no RVs. Travelers stayed in hotels. And sometimes, they shared a bed with a complete stranger!
At the Plaza Hotel in San Juan Bautista, Calif., sharing a bed with a stranger was not only done, it was done often. If you had enough money to afford a room by yourself, fine. If not, you could double up with a total stranger for a lot less.
The Plaza Hotel opened in 1856 and welcomed guests into the 1930s. It’s now a part of San Juan Bautista State Historical Park, site of the beautiful old Spanish Mission built in 1797. Part of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece film “Vertigo” was filmed here.
Visitors to the Plaza would arrive by stagecoach. The hotel owner was no dummy: He offered the stage drivers a free room. So it was a no-brainer for him to stop with his passengers rather than stay somewhere else and pay.
Rooms were very comfy for the day. They didn’t have bathrooms, of course; an outhouse was at the end of a hall— a two-story outhouse. Men used the downstairs while the ladies did their thing upstairs above them.
In the years 1850 to 1880, a stagecoach trip between San Juan Bautista and Los Angeles cost $18.50 (that’s a lot in today’s dollars!) and took two days. The average speed of the stage was about six miles per hour. It’s wasn’t an easy trip. See the poster below for the rules for passengers. We like the one about avoiding talking about politics and religion: some things don’t change.
Admission to the park, which includes the hotel, is $3.