About Our Unusual Concrete Hotel


Though we closed on our new home Friday, we won’t be moving in for another week. The washer and dryer were delivered yesterday, but we still have no refrigerator nor furniture nor any of the possessions we packed up in Connecticut. We’re staying in Old Town Irvine in a building with a history.

20130630_103107-w1200-h1200This La Quinta, squeezed between I-5 (“The 5”) and the Metrolink/Amtrak tracks, didn’t begin life as a hotel. It was built as a grain elevator, mainly for lima beans! That’s it in the 1957 photo at the top of this entry and on the left in a photo I just took.

Before Irvine became a city, this area was part of the immense Irvine Ranch–over 100,000 acres. Agriculture has been pushed aside by development gradually over the past few decades.

20130630_103218-w1200-h1200What makes this building so unusual is it’s constructed entirely of concrete. That’s my hand straddling an exposed wall, cut to make a connecting hallway between two silos.

Our room is a six sided concrete bunker with some small concrete inserts to round the corners. The doorways and windows were cut out of the previously solid concrete.

Sure, we’re near the highway and railroad tracks, but we hear little. Hello, it’s solid concrete!

Unfortunately, the floors which were added during the conversion from grain to guests are not concrete. We found out what that means around 2:30 AM when the people above us went crazy!

It sounded like they were wrestling or jumping up-and-down. Whatever it was IT WAS LOUD.

What a wake-up! Surreal. More noise by far than I’ve ever heard inside a structure. Helaine thought the ceiling might collapse!

One call to the front desk and the noise was quickly quelled, but not before we suffered through an hour of it. Very disappointing in a hotel we otherwise like.

20130630_093748-w1200-h1200This hotel, like all the hotels we stayed in during our cross country journey, offers a free continental breakfast. The menu is very limited. Did I mention it’s free?

I suspect there are people who go hotel to hotel getting these free breakfasts. No one checks if you’re a guest. No one has asked for our room key.

Who knew?

11 thoughts on “About Our Unusual Concrete Hotel”

  1. Love the continental breakfasts. It’s so nice to go and grab some food for the morning without having to leave the hotel for breakfast. Just a little more relaxing before you go on your way…

  2. Hi Geoff-
    My wife and I moved to CT 13 years ago from Tustin Ranch. We are originally from SD & NE. Well we just found out we are moving back to CA! So funny to be watching your journey and we will soon be doing the same thing…with our Maltese Opie! I always thought you were the best weatherman here, along with Joe Furey. I am sure you are looking for new friends and maybe we can meet someday. Although we already know what living in the OC is like and we always thought we moved into colonial times by moving to CT. We have become to like the Northeast and for me loving the wild weather. But we also love the CA life style and looking forward to not having to salve to the outdoor chores of the yard! Can I ask where you moved to? We are coming out and a few weeks to check things out and see what there is to offer. We do not have children, so down sizing is not to much of an issue…but know the prices will be a shock. Although the construction out there is done very well to maximize the space of the homes. Best of luck and enjoy reading your adventure!

    1. We moved to Irvine. Make no mistake, this lifestyle is costly compared to Connecticut. Our home is much smaller and much more expensive. We too are OK with downsizing.

      On the other hand the California lifestyle is very appealing. Like everything else in life there are tradeoffs in what you pay for what you get.

  3. Thanks for the reply Geoff! I know you moved to Irvine, did you move into new construction? Did you find any area better than another? We were also looking at the condos in Irvine, I think they are call SoHo?

  4. The SoCal lifestyle is as haunting as a mermaid’s cries luring the sailor — I became addicted in 1997 the moment I stepped off the plane, and have been fortunate to be able to go back several times and for some lengthy stints. I only like summer and then only when there’s no humidity…so let’s see now, how can I finagle this…

    FYI, I try to get the topmost room in a hotel or motel as I spent an unbelievably miserable night once in Niantic listening to some people who were apparently clog-dancing just above me.

    Keep us posted!

  5. “around 2:30 AM when the people above us went crazy!”

    Well it is Sunday, perhaps it was a religious experience. Was she yelling “Oh God, Oh God?”

  6. Sounds like one apartment I lived in. Wood floors, sounded like a herd of elephants was running around up there at times. Hate having upstairs neighbors but unless you own your own place (which I’m not in the position to do) you have to get used to it.
    Concrete makes sense especially in CA where the insulating properties keep the extreme heat at bay. Kind of why Adobe was such a popular building material in the west and southwest. Are you getting any of that ‘extreme’ heat they’re talking about?
    I’m waiting for a storm cell to pass so I can walk the cat. She’s been so patient all day…..

  7. Love LaQuinta – as a chain they are very solid. Across the board though, their breakfasts are horrible. You get what you pay for. If you don’t want to start your day with sugary carb-o-rama, you very quickly learn to swing by the nearest supermarket and grab some fruit! A lot of their rooms have fridges, which is great – you can get your own yogurt etc. The things you learn while traveling the world with a band of mostly vegetarians … 🙂

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