About The Spencer Hotel & Spa
Over a Century of Hospitality
The Spencer Hotel & Spa is a four season hotel in the heart of the famous Chautauqua Institution and only steps from the beautiful Chautauqua Lake. The Spencer Hotel was built by Mrs. Ensign in 1909 as The Spencer Hotel Annex. The Spencer Hotel Annex was Mrs. Ensign’s second hotel endeavor in Chautauqua, the first being The Spencer Hotel in 1887. Both were fully operational until after Mrs. Ensign’s time of death. Mrs. Ensign’s Will stated she wished for the family to run the hotel forever. The family continued to operate both hotels until 1980 when they closed the original Spencer Hotel but kept The Spencer Hotel Annex open. The Spencer Hotel Annex was sold to Helen Edgington on February 6, 1997. This became her after retirement project for the Chautauqua Institution.
Be Transported into your Favorite Story
The Spencer Hotel & Spa is a place where you can escape into a literary world. We are the first literary-themed hotel in the United States that has dedicated our guest rooms to famous authors. The inspiration for the literary theme of the hotel came from the Chautauqua Scientific Literary Circle (CSLC), the oldest continuously operating book club in the country. The CSLC was founded in 1882 in an effort to educate the world.
Our guest rooms were decorated by local artists to honor the lives and works of famous authors. Each also offers a select library of their books, and musical selections are available that further convey the tone of their lives and times. Hand-painted murals grace many of our walls, floors, and ceilings. Guests will also find faux finishes and yards of English lace in addition to custom-made drapes, dust ruffles, and lampshades. An elevator is available on all four floors of the hotel. Four floors of porches grace the front of the hotel and are appointed with Victorian sofas, chairs, and rockers which overlook the famous Amphitheatre.
Stay at a Historic Landmark
In 1974 Chautauqua Institution was celebrating its 100th anniversary. During this time it was declared a Historic Landmark due in large part to the efforts of Pricilla Nixon. After this declaration, it was the business owners’ responsibility to get their individual buildings recognized as a Historic Landmarks. Helen was the only business owner to take the extra time, money and effort to accomplish this feat. After two years of hard work, The Spencer Hotel was recognized as a significant Historic Landmark Hotel by the National Parks Service.
To achieve this distinction the hotel had to be significantly updated. These updates included building-wide new wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and magnetized storm windows on the inside for all 98 windows. An elevator was added to the hotel where a stack of linen closets was previously located, a new rubber roof was added, and all rooms were insulated by removing the baseboards and blowing in the insulation. A new circulating hot water system with 8 hot water tanks was added and also a water filtering system to provide clear, clean water. In addition, new picture frame style storm doors with brass latches were installed.
In 2015 The Spencer Hotel was accepted into the Select Registry, a collection of high-end Bed and Breakfasts. Gaining acceptance into the Select Registry involved another large-scale update to the hotel. This time the updates included all new beds, headboards, tables and lamps for either side of the beds and two easy chairs for each room.
You’ll find that our luxury hotel features all the charm and atmosphere of a bed and breakfast. The Spencer offers cozy areas that are perfect for playing a board game, curling up with a good book, engaging in conversation, or relaxing at our spa. Our Monet Parlor features a 45″ x 90″ movie screen which is available for use.
The Spencer Hotel & Spa is the perfect place to experience Old World richness. It is a place where warm memories are made with friends or family. We invite you to stay with us. Pick your perfect literary-themed getaway right here in Chautauqua, New York.