Home Away from Home: The Best Places to Stay in Chase County Kansas

Grand Central Hotel and Grill front of Cottonwood Falls

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Have you ever encountered a magical place when you least expected it? Recently I was a guest of Chase County Kansas, and fell in love with their community. Actually, to the point that when a house popped up for sale – get this: for under $78,000 – I almost bought it. The population of around 2,500 people has this magical connection of community that makes any visitor feel beyond welcome.

Home Away from Home: The Best Places to Stay in Chase County Kansas

WHERE IS CHASE COUNTY, KANSAS?

Chase County is located in east-central Kansas, about 30 minutes west of the state capital of Topeka. The county seat is Cottonwood Falls, and other notable towns include Strong City and Matfield Green. With a population of just over 2,500 people, Chase County is one of the least populous counties in Kansas, yet it offers visitors a surprising amount of treasures!

JUST OFF THE FLINT HILLS NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY


Located in the heart of the Flint Hills, near the National Tall Grass Prairie Reserve, you will find this collection of small towns. I know it is tempting just to keep going down that stretch of 177 miles, but you really should look at finding a place to stay for a few days. From amazing food to outdoor activities like hiking and fishing to a rich history dating back to the frontier days – there is something for everyone in this unique section of Kansas.

I already mentioned Chef Stan’s delightful restaurant and have much more to share about this area with you over the next few weeks.

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WHERE TO STAY IN CHASE COUNTY, KANSAS

This can be tricky in a smaller community, and what we are going to talk about today. They had a wonderful motel that closed, leaving them with camping sites and the historic Grand Central Hotel and Grill. If you love camping or are an RVer, you will want to check out places like Swope Park, Bates Grove Park, or even Dry Creek Post Group Glamping.

Grand Central Hotel and Grill front of Cottonwood Falls
Just look at this beautiful building!

The Grand Central Hotel and Grill is an incredible gem on its own. Its original 1884 version had 20 or so rooms, and since it was brought back to life with a full restoration and renovation, it now has 10 spacious and well-equipped offerings for travelers. I love how each represents a local ranch with a custom door brand alongside a Mexican spur!

room door of the grand central hotel in cottonwood falls kansas
How cool is that room door?

Eight of them are up a stairway, two remain on the main floor, and they are fully handicapped experienceable. This historic hotel has been beautifully restored and offers visitors a chance to step back in time while enjoying all the modern amenities. This place is so incredible that I will talk more about it in another article soon.

Grand Central Hotel and Grill bedroom
Just look at this spacious room!

Let’s face it, 10 hotel rooms are far from enough space to foster visitors for any area. That is beyond important in a town with no empty storefronts! People are needed to keep doors open, communities prospering, and kids in a local school. It is an essential part of small-town living and the backbone of their culture.

Sadly, I have seen too many communities that failed to pivot when the manufacturing structures of the country changed, and the towns are literal ghost towns. They lost grocery stores, schools, churches, and people – with many other small businesses following. I love when I come across communities that are not only surviving but thriving in this day and age, and that is exactly what I found in Chase County.

Since Covid hit, people, in general, have been leery of giant hotels and were looking for AirBnBs and even entire houses to rent. They get to experience life as a local, ask questions, get recommendations, and usually make some friends! It is a good thing that there are now 27+ Bed and Breakfast locations available in the county – that is a lot for a community with 3.3 people per square mile! But it gets even better — many of these are buildings that are brought back to life just like the Hotel.

Field of Flowers North Farm
Click on the picture to check it out

THE LARK INN GUESTHOUSES

Accounting for roughly a third of the rental market, Kris and Pat Larkin were also kind enough to house me for my visit to their county. I adore that they, and the owners of other properties they manage, have collected houses that were in dire need of repair and brought them back to life, as well as helping draw people to the area.

kitchen at another property
The Stone Lodge is a masterpiece of elegance that sleeps 12 – perfect for family get-togethers or a ladies’ getaway

EACH PROPERTY IS DIFFERENT

Most of these homes hail from long before the days of massive planned building developments and homeowners associations. You can choose from a stone house built in 1879, an old church, painted ladies, and quaint cottages. They have all been added one at a time, lovingly restored, and furnished as they spoke to Kris and Pat, who firmly believe each has its own personality.

Living room at the church bnb of Cottonwood Falls
Just look at this cozy living room inside the Church.

I was treated to a stay in Cottonwood Falls’ Lark Song, a Victorian (1890s) cross between a painted lady and a cozy cottage that sleeps 6. You can rent this entire house for under $200 a night – less than an average Madison, Wisconsin Hotel!

lark song property of cottonwood Falls
How adorable and welcoming is the front of Lark Song?

Here is the best part about staying in a house: you have a kitchen! Yes, there are a lot of great places to eat in the area but for the budget-challenged? You can save a few dollars by stocking the fridge and eating what you make. Think about packing that picnic for hiking to the local waterfall or checking out the Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve.

Dang it – I should have hard-boiled some of those eggs! (sigh) Next time I am all over that!

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

The Devil is in the details – isn’t that what they always say? Kris and Pat believe this to be true as well, which shows in their properties and the properties they manage. No two are alike, but all of them share a few things:

Fully Furnished

Each home has everything you would need from comfy beds down to that whisk for scrambling your farm-fresh eggs in the morning. Seriously, they think of everything.

Luxury Everywhere You Look

Sheets with a high thread count and mattresses so perfect you almost fall asleep instantly. Towels that you want to smuggle home because they are so thick and fluffy. A rainforest flow bathroom shower that you will never want to step out of. These are above and beyond the simple amenities most places offer.

lark song beedroom I stayed in
This bed was so comfy that I was asleep just minutes after my head hit the pillow

Don’t get me wrong, they do have free and fast wifi, coffee makers, welcome letters with local places of interest, and all of that good stuff too – but it is the little things that make this place a step up.

Thoughtful Touches

Each property is beyond welcoming when you walk in for the first time. Ceiling fans are going, lights are on, and beds even have trays with suggested nightly reading material and little chocolates. You feel like you are coming home to a friend’s house, not just a rental. After peaking at what past visitors had to say, I made sure to write in their guestbook before I left.

a close up of the tray on the corner ofm y bed
Just look at the cute tray – book, chocolates, and more! This place is staged so well!

They all agreed with me about the wonderful place to stay.

Yummy Food

In the kitchen, I found a container of homemade granola, gourmet muffins, a dozen farm-fresh eggs in the fridge, and even coffee! On my first morning, I sat on the front porch at the cute little table with my coffee and muffin as I listened to the sounds of the cicadas. I thought to myself – this is life.

muffins and granola for visitors at the Lark Song Inn
Gourmet muffins and Homemade granola greeted me from the kitchen counter

One morning I scrambled a few eggs and could tell how farm fresh they were – they were enhanced with fresh gouda cheese from a local dairy. My toast used a little honey from the local bee guy – I adore everything about that simple meal. It is a testament to the simple yet amazing things that you can find in and around Cottonwood Falls.

Here is my first walk through and thoughts when I first got to the Lark Song Inn

PARK AND PLAY IN CHASE COUNTY, KANSAS

That is what I like to do when I experience a new community. Find a place to rest my head and then get out there and experience the area’s history, food, art, and people. Fortunately, Kris and Pat’s properties are centrally located in the quaint town of Cottonwood Falls, so I could walk to the downtown area if I wished. It simply had to aim for the historic courthouse and follow the literal brick road for just a few blocks.

Yes. It is that quaint in this county.

When you find a place to rest your head, the rest of a trip is easy – at least in my opinion. You can fit any budget with activities from hiking to dining out, have a refuge if someone in your group is ill or tired, and don’t have to worry about loud neighbors.

LAST THOUGHTS

If you are like me and enjoy places to stay where you have your own space, don’t have to share a bathroom, and are treated like a VIP? The Lark Inn Guesthouses are the perfect place to rest your head at. Lark’s Song was one of the most unique and welcoming places I have ever stayed.

Other Kansas articles you may like:

Home Away from Home: The Best Places to Stay in Chase County Kansas

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