Insider’s Guide to California’s Gold Country with Sherry Villanueva of ACME Hospitality


Earlier this year, Kind Traveler was thrilled to welcome both Holbrooke Hotel and The National Exchange Hotel in California’s Gold Country to our socially conscious hotel collection that empowers travelers to make a positive impact in the communities they visit. Deeply intrigued by the woman-founded-and-owned hotels, we were keen to take a deep dive into exploring the mystique of Gold Country with its Founder and CEO, Sherry Villanueva of parent company, Acme Hospitality.

We invite you to explore California’s Gold Country through the lens of Acme Hospitality’s CEO & Founder, Sherry Villanueva.

What inspired you to restore both Holbrooke Hotel & The National Exchange Hotel in California’s Gold Country into what it is today? 

We were inspired by the history not only of both hotels but also of the region and Nevada City and Grass Valley in particular. Both small mountain towns are home to a tight-knit communities filled with interesting and talented people. With easy access from the Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley, these properties are perfectly suited for travelers looking for an easy-drive destination that instantly transports you to another place and time.

What are you most proud of in your reimagination of these historic properties? 

I am most proud that we could upgrade the hotels to meet the current stringent health and safety codes while restoring them to highlight their timeless beauty. Most of the artists, designers, craftsmen and contractors were from the local region, so it was thrilling to watch their handiwork shine through and to see the pride they had in the finished product. These hotels have been serving their respective communities for more than 165 years so it was truly an honor to play a part in setting them up to be there for generations to come.

What attracted you to Gold Country? 

Both hotels are fascinating historic landmarks and I love thinking about the stories they could tell.  Finding architecturally significant properties surrounded by nature is a dream come true and we fell in love with both. Plus, the small-town charm of Nevada City and Grass Valley is irresistible.

Tell us more about Grass Valley and Nevada City, just 7 miles apart and the home to both Holbrooke Hotel & The National Exchange Hotel.  What would a perfect day look like for you in spending time in these destinations? 

A perfect day in Gold Country includes spending time in nature either hiking or biking, shopping at Kitkitdizzie for handicrafts from local artisans, wood-fired pizza lunch at Three Forks, sipping on Gold Country wines from Pruett Winery and topping it off with dinner at the Golden Gate Saloon and live music at the National Bar.

For those considering a trip to Gold Country, what’s the best way to access? 

Best way to access Gold Country is by car from the Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley. I live in Santa Barbara so it’s easy to fly direct to Sacramento and rent a car from there which is only a little over an hour drive.

What’s the best way to give back to the community while staying with Holbrooke & The National Exchange Hotel?

We are proud to support the Bear Yuba Land Trust through Kind Traveler and admire their efforts to protect the natural lands in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds. Another great way to give back to the community is to shop in the small, independent local stores and restaurants that line the historic districts of Nevada City and Grass Valley. The economic vitalization of these areas is critical.

Anything else you would like to add?

California Gold County is a great place to explore nature and a fascinating chapter in our state’s history. It’s so easy to get to and yet it feels a world away.

We invite you to explore Gold Country on Kind Traveler and make a positive impact with Bear Yuba Land Trust, learn more here.