You know the comforting feeling of waking up at your grandma's house or a cozy bed & breakfast? Where the sheets are soft, there's the smell of breakfast first thing in the morning, the wooden floors creak below your feet, and the walls are lined with nostalgic pictures. But did you know there is a hotel that exists just like this in our very own town of Winter Garden? The Edgewater Hotel, which is located on Plant Street between the Scoops Ice Cream shop and Earl Brigham's Barbershop, has been a part of Winter Garden since 1926. From the moment you walk through the doors, you feel like you have stepped back in time. Although they have preserved the original 1926 historical feel, this is a wonderfully charming modern-day bed & breakfast hotel.
Once checked in, you will be taken up in the original 1926 Otis elevator, where you will get off on the second floor. Here, you are met with a family room seating area furnished with an old-school record player, a beautiful grandfather clock, and a blue couch that Abraham Lincoln ordered to furnish his Vermont estate. The walls are covered in vintage photos that tell the story of the early 1900s. From pictures of the owner's grandfathers during World War II to 1920's celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, who is believed to have stayed at the Edgewater Hotel, you genuinely feel immersed in the history of this hotel. Even the kitchen, right next to the living room, was thoughtfully put together with an antique oven, fridge, and dining table, and the cabinets were built out of old wood floors from the hotel. Each room is individually unique with antique makeup tables, mirrors, and vintage-inspired bedding, giving it an extra cozy charm for a one-of-a-kind bed & breakfast hotel. The staff is welcoming, kind, knowledgeable, and passionate about the history of Winter Garden and things to do in the area. They also serve a warm breakfast every morning, which is cooked fresh by them. "This is a family and friends-operated hotel, so we really enjoy each of our guests and always want them to come back. We have many regular guests that have become like family," stated Alicia Wilder, who is a partner with the current owners.
The history of the Edgewater Hotel is genuinely remarkable. The hotel was built in 1926 and opened in 1927 as one of the most technologically advanced hotels of its day. Soon after, the Great Depression hit, and people were forced to barter time and possessions for a one-night stay. For a short while, the hotel became an apartment. It was ultimately abandoned up until twenty years ago when the current owners bought it. "When the Edgewater Hotel was purchased and brought back to life, this became a key piece to restoring and maintaining Downtown Winter Gardens' historical feel. The owners made a point to have the hotel and Downtown Winter Garden as a whole put on the historical registry", stated Wilder. During the restoration of the Edgewater Hotel, the city put in the West Orange Bike Trail, the train tracks were moved, the Theatre began renovations, and the Downtown Winter Garden that we know and love today was being restored.
If you have never heard of the Edgewater Hotel or weren't aware that it is a fully operational hotel, I strongly encourage you to visit and stay for a night – even if you're a local! Not only is Edgewater a one-of-a-kind hotel experience, but you also get to step foot in a rich part of our community's history. "There is so much history here that was uniquely preserved. We want to model this place and tribute it to the history of Winter Garden by keeping it alive" Wilder said. The hotel stays busy and is usually booked, so if you plan on staying for a weekend, make sure to book a couple of months in advance. On your stay, make sure to check out their garden-style back balcony, which is the perfect place to sip your morning coffee and watch the sunrise through the beautiful oak trees. It's important to remember that our beautiful city of Winter Garden is made up of local family businesses. Without the community's support, they wouldn't be here, and our charming town wouldn't exist. So, shop local, stay local, and support local businesses.
“There is so much history here that was uniquely preserved. We want to model this place and tribute it to the history of Winter Garden by keeping it alive.”