Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast Resort

2870 Lakeshore Blvd. Po Box 4016, Nice, California 95464
  • Welcome to Featherbed Railroad Bed &; Breakfast Resort

    Welcome to Featherbed Railroad Bed &; Breakfast Resort

  • A huge natural lake & rural surroundings

    A huge natural lake & rural surroundings

  • Orient Express

    Orient Express

  • La Loose Caboose

    La Loose Caboose


25 Years of Unique Vacations 16 Sep 2014, 6:57 am

September 16, 1989 the Featherbed Railroad opened its doors officially for the first guests to stay. From stories told to me by the Bassignani brothers who helped build this place that was much later than originally anticipated for the first day, but converting a caboose into guest room is no easy task. But a quarter of a century later the vision of Len & Lorraine Bassignani and Kelly & Sherry McLean continues to be a great vacation destination for many hundreds of people every year. 

The idea of converting a caboose from a utilitarian office at the back of a train to a fancy guest room might be crazy to some and I’ve heard that it took a bit of selling for the idea to catch on with Lorraine and Sherry, but catch on it did and Lorraine’s beautiful artwork still adorns the walls of several of our rooms. She truly jumped in with both feet and used her talents to create interior decor that is still impressing people to this day. Len’s handy work is still in evidence all over the property as well as he used some creative ingenuity to come up with a solution to problems that might have seemed overwhelming. 
So the story of how this place came to be comes from a tail of two vacations where the family went on a journey up to Dunsmuir where the Railroad Park Resort also features accommodations in railroad cabooses as well as box cars. They also traveled to the Madonna Inn where Alex Madonna and his team created a place where each room has a different theme. Somehow the idea of combining these two came to them and the vision for the Featherbed Railroad, where each caboose has a different theme, was born. 
Their timing was ideal because the railroads were getting rid of cabooses at that time and you could have one relatively inexpensively - providing you took it off the railroad’s tracks. At that time they were scrapping the cabooses as quickly as they could so time was also of the essence. It turns out that Kelly’s experience in the moving business was perfect but where to put such a place? 

The answer came as Len was delivering a load of goods to the local hardware store and drove by the property that is the Featherbed Railroad today. A lake-front plot of five acres at just the right price was a magical solution to his quest and he called Kelly and the ball was rolling. 

Kelly’s and his brothers, Brett and Mitch, apparently were enlisted to lay the tracks that the cabooses were to rest on. Apparently that was a particularly hot summer so the work wasn’t much fun and, at one point, the boys wanted a break but Len reminded them that the cabooses were on their way so work continued. Since Lake County is the only county in California that reportedly never had a railroad the only way to get the cabooses here was on the back of a “low boy” truck. 

A caboose riding down the street on a truck is truly an unusual sight so there were several people who followed the load to see where it was going. A few of those people continue to stay here and tell us of following the cabooses to the Featherbed Railroad just to see where they were going. 

The vision of converting a caboose to a guest room is easier in one’s mind’s eye than it is in the real world and while the plan was to open the doors about six months after the cabooses arrived, the reality is that it took well over a year. But it finally happened on this day, 25 years ago. 

Harvest Season is here now 3 Sep 2014, 8:34 am

Lake County Pear harvest is wrapping up and the Lake County wine grape harvest is in full swing.

Enjoy this Lake County harvest-inspired recipe. And don't forget to check out our awesome Farmer's Markets and enjoy some of the best farm to table staples in the area!
Our own pear tree on the Featherbed Railroad property has been especially prolific this year with a very nice harvest of some beautiful Bartlett pears. They've already found their way to several breakfast services here and there are quite a bit more - but they won't last long, especially with this recipe!

It's Not Too Late for Wet Fun on the Lake 17 Aug 2014, 11:24 am

It's not good to brag and we know that. But it is important to share facts and, the fact is, there is still a good amount of water in Clear Lake. 

Yes, California is in a drought and it's pretty severe. We've also seen several of the lakes around here where you can stand in the deepest parts and not get your bikini bottoms wet. But our ancient beauty, Clear Lake, is soldiering on with enough water that several local friends have kept their sail boats in the drink and spend quite a bit of time enjoying the Lake. 
The County just posted a web cam on the top of Mount Konocti and the post, embedded above from Facebook, is a sweep of the Lake with beautiful views. And water. 

Local fishing guide Bob Myskey regularly posts pictures from his guide trips where customers catch plenty of bass. Disney's Watersports reports that lots and lots of their boats are still going out every day (did you know you get a deal on boat rentals as a Featherbed Railroad guest?) and the water's so clear, you can actually see the bottom of the Lake from the end of our pier. It is below average in water level, of course, but it's not parched. 
A beautiful sunset over Clear Lake taken on August 22, 2014.
If you'd rather enjoy a cool, deep, lake then nearby Blue Lake also has plenty of water. In fact, Admiral Peter reports a brisk business renting his electric pontoon boats for folks on Blue Lake. These silent, easy-going craft are actually a peaceful way to enjoy the Alpine-looking Blue Lake. There are rope swings and day-use passes at several of the campgrounds there as well. 

So if you're thinking you missed out on water-related fun this summer, you haven't. We're here, sitting lakeside, enjoying just another summer for a beautiful lake that's been here for a couple million years. 

As we like to say, do you have your reservations yet? 

Interesting Beer: Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Amber 14 Aug 2014, 7:57 pm

Among Tony's passions in life are trains (no kidding), cars and beer. So when we got our alcohol permit in February Tony immediately set-up an account with the local beer distributor and got cases of what he refers to as the five crowns of Northern California beer. But anyone who likes interesting beer knows those already so they didn't really sell all that well. 

So we had an idea - how about finding some of the most interesting beers around and stocking those? Stay tuned to this blog, if you like beer, and join us on a journey of some of the most interesting beers in the neighborhood which we will stock small quantities of for guests who share Tony's passion about beer. Of course this means Tony actually gets to write off beer tasting, and that's a wonderful thing. 

Our first interesting beer is Anderson Valley's Boont Barl, the company's signature Boont Amber beer but aged for six months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. 

Wait, aged beer, you say? Craziness? Not at all. While there is a commodity beer producer that goes out of its way to sell how "new" its beer is, the truth is, aged beers are fairly common and really spectacular. Heck, another beer mass marketer makes more of a deal of its silver cans than it does the actual beer in them. Commodity beer isn't really all that great. 

But beer aged in bourbon barrels is quite something. Aging a beer in bourbon barrels imparts some of the flavors of the barrel and its former contents into the beer creating a very unique and rich flavor. 

Anderson Valley's Boont Amber is already a pretty unique beer without the hoppiness that a lot of trendy beers have nowadays. While there are certainly those who like beer with a lot of hop flavor in it, Boont Amber is really a very smooth beer. Tony says he tastes hints of vanilla in that beer but everybody's got an opinion. 

For beer geeks, this beer's only got 6% alcohol by volume with an IBU rating of 16. We're selling 22-ounce bottles to guests of the Featherbed Railroad for just $15 and we bought one of the last three cases our distributor had. 

We're going to try to do an Interesting Beer every month and they will be available at the Featherbed Railroad while supplies last. 
The somewhat remote Anderson Valley is really an extraordinary place but, even more so, the area actually has its own homemade language, Boontling. Still spoken by a handful of residents, Boontling is considered by modern linguists to be one of the world’s most extraordinary examples of a homemade language. At its peak Boontling was even taught in the valley’s schools and it was not uncommon for bright lighters (outsiders) to be completely dumbfounded by local conversation.

Who knows, a couple of these 22oz bottles of Boont Barl might make you change your language to incorporate a bit of Boontling. No matter what, we wish you Bahl Hornin'.

Lake County Wine Adventure 2014 22 Jul 2014, 10:36 am

For the 2014 Lake County Wine Adventure we've got some very special plans. What is Wine Adventure, you ask? A celebration by the wineries near Clear Lake where you purchase a pass and enjoy wine, music, food and entertainment for the weekend of July 26-27 at almost 30 locations around the Lake. This year we've got two wineries pouring their wines here plus so much more. 
We're going to start Wine Adventure a day early this year by having Stephen Dilley of Lavendar Blue wines here on Friday for wine tasting from 3-7pm. As a special bonus, Stephen is offering very special pricing to guests of the Featherbed Railroad on cases of his award-winning wines. 

Saturday and Sunday as Wine Adventure officially happens we've got both Red Lava Vineyards, who were here last year, and R Vineyards as well. Yes, we've doubled the number of wineries we're going have here! We will be open for tastings as part of Wine Adventure from 11am-5pm both days. 

Each of these wineries have some great estate-grown wines that we know you'll enjoy, especially when paired with our peanut butter & jelly chili! We'll also have other appetizers paired with the wines these fine wineries are pouring. 

Furthermore, we're going to have Sounds Like FUN! DJ company playing music as well as operating their outdoor photo booth here. Visitors will be able to get souvenir photos of themselves and will have plenty of goofy props to take advantage of to personalize their photo experience!

As if all that weren't enough we're also going to have a number of local artisans on our lawn celebrating the beautiful art they create. From gourds to paintings and wood crafting, there will be plenty to see and several have indicated that they will be practicing their artistic craft live during the event!

We're very fortunate to have a waiting list for rooms for this weekend but that doesn't mean you can't grab your Wine Adventure pass and come by and see us. With the promise of a variety of great wines, beautiful art and your favorite music along with a take-home souvenir that you create yourself, we might just be the best stop on Wine Adventure and definitely one you won't want to miss!!

Sea Planes on Clear Lake 21 Jul 2014, 7:25 am

For those of you old enough to remember, there used to be a TV program called Fantasy Island where the opening sequence featured Hervé Villechaize announcing the incoming passengers with the famous, "The plane! The plane!" line. Well almost the same thing happened here Friday as a plane very similar to the Grumman Widgeon used on the show was taxiing on Clear Lake. Then, moments later it took off and circled around the Featherbed Railroad. 

Unlike Fantasy Island, we don't plan our raising our rates to $50,000 for a three-day stay and we can't promise miracles, but we do hope people have a great getaway and we love to assist with planning and coordination. We can make all sorts of reservations and appointments, but with Lake County's relaxed attitude usually you won't have to. 

We don't know why this vintage sea plan was circling the Featherbed Railroad but it's a safe guess to think that the plane is being readied for the upcoming Clear Lake Splash In, the largest seaplane festival west of the Mississippi. The Splash In is the same day as the super popular Pear Festival and promises a wide number of activities for people who don't have planes as well as those who do. 

As mentioned, on the same weekend is the Pear Festival which is another Lake County tradition and features all sorts of food, music, vendors and more. 

If you don't already have your reservations for the weekend of September 26-28, or for any upcoming date, now might be a great time to make those. There are still rooms available and with two terrific events plus all the usual assortment of activities in Lake County, you should have a great time. 

And, just think, you will be saving tens of thousands of dollars compared to a vacation on Fantasy Island. Plus, we don't even have a white suit. Or a bell-ringing plane spotter. 

Drink Pink at the Pool 14 Jul 2014, 2:40 pm

Wherever there's a problem, there's also a solution. For example, imagine wanting to drink Gregory Graham's award-winning wines by the pool. But not being able to have glassware presents a problem. 

Gregory not only makes outstanding wines but has a solution for the poolside wine enjoyment - new wine pouches. These magnum-sized pouches keep wine outstanding for up to six weeks after they're initially opened and what a great wine Gregory's chosen for these pouches. 

Just in time for summer Gregory Graham's Rosé has been packaged in convenient wine pouches and are perfect for pool-side enjoyment. Actually, they're great for any place, but we figure that the pool is a terrific place to enjoy a pouch or even a glass of wine. 

When I was a kid my mom used to enjoy White Zinfandel from a bargain-brand winery so we would tease her about her "pink wine." Today's Gregory Graham Rosé is very different than that. This wine is a blend of estate-grown Grenache and Syrah wines from Gregory Graham's Crimson Hill vineyard. It's really, really good and quite refreshing and the perfect wine for pool-side. 

Recently we visited Gregory Graham's winery and tasted the Rosé and their description of the wine as having a fragrant bouquet of rose petals and cinnamon is accurate but, as with all wines, we hope you taste it for yourself and enjoy it as much as we do. 
Musician Lindy Day with a glass of Gregory Graham Rosé at the pool on a beautiful summer day.
In honor of this new wine being available at the Featherbed Railroad we have gone a little nuts, naturally. We replaced our pool towels with pink pool towels and even got some pink "pool noodles." Of course we have plenty of break-resistant wine glasses to take to the pool. 

Gregory Graham's Rosé is available by the glass for just $5 or by the magnum-sized pouch for just $18. 

The cool thing about these pouches is that they also transport well and use up to 80% fewer resources to produce than glass wine bottles. The wine inside remains good for up to six weeks after the pouch is initially opened which is another big plus. Oh, and the Featherbed Railroad is the only place you can buy these pouches of Gregory Graham's Rosé beside at his vineyard and we're open seven days a week. 

So during your next visit to the Featherbed Railroad we encourage you to grab a pink pool towel, a pink noodle and head over to our pool with a glass of Gregory Graham's new Rosé. We think you'll find it a refreshing experience that bears repeating. 

Clear Lake is America's 2nd Best bass fishing lake 9 May 2014, 7:00 am

When it comes to bass fishing, the folks at Bassmaster know what they're talking about. After all they's a group of people who have gathered around this sport to celebrate bass fishing in all its glory.

When it came to the daunting task of evaluating the bass fishing lakes around the US they were up to it and after many, many hours of exhaustive testing the folks at Bassmaster voted Clear Lake the second-best bass fishing lake in the whole United States. To get to number one, you have to travel all the way to Wisconsin. 

According to professional angler Ish Monroe, "...you don’t have to be a great angler to catch ’em here. You can flip [or] throw swimbaits, topwaters, crankbaits — whatever you like to do, you can catch fish on Clear Lake doing it.”

The article also noted that Clear Lake is easy on the eyes, too. They talked about our incredible local wineries with their friendly family-oriented staff and more. The beautiful, unpolluted waters of the Lake are teaming with bass. 

If fishing or just relaxing on the water is your thing, there are a number of boat rental companies that have watercraft of all sizes, from jet skis to large patio boats. We have a page dedicated to fishing and boating on Clear Lake. If you are planning on fishing the Lake, you can go it on your own or even hire one of the outstanding local guides who guarantee that you'll catch fish. One of those is Bob Myskey of Bassin' with Bob

Of course we've also got our new Puddle Duck rowboats and we've also added a people-powered mini patio boat to our "fleet." We have our own private boat launch and dock and have recently rebuilt the lift mechanism on the pier so it's ready for your boat if you have one. 

So why number two? The recent drought that hit California was the reason we didn't get tot the top of the rankings, frankly. And have we mentioned the recent rains that have increased the water level in Clear Lake? 

Whether you plan to fish, just plan to spend some time on the Lake or just stroll out to the pier to watch a beautiful sunset, we hope to see you this summer. The Lake is waiting! And, apparently, so are the bass. 

Clear Lake is ready for you! 1 Apr 2014, 8:01 am

It’s no secret that the drought conditions in California are pretty serious. The lack of any significant precipitation will mean that we Californians are going to be doing some significant conserving when the normally-dry summer months are here. All around us lakes are looking more like puddles.

So let’s look at Clear Lake, thought to be the second-oldest lake in the world. This aquatic old-timer still has tricks up her sleeve. You don’t survive several million years of climate on this planet without being able to weather dry and wet conditions. That’s true even now.

The bottom line - Clear Lake has water.

The water in Clear Lake technically belongs to Yolo County and they are allowed drain the Lake to a certain level every year. However, with the Lake already down due to lack of rain there is a good chance that the water that’s in there now is below the point that they’re able to start taking any. Yolo gets water nomo - at least not this year.

So how much water is in Clear Lake? Certainly enough that, during a recent bass tournament, we set a record for fishing on the Lake. And that’s a lake that is already thought of as the bass capital of the west and the third best bass fishing lake in the US. There’s certainly enough water that you can float your boat, or rent one.

With the outstanding spring-like conditions that we’ve had, Disney’s Water Sports has already taken some of their boats out of winter storage and has made them available for rental. Yeah, the weather’s been that good already.

The water has been exceptionally clear to the point where Tony went out on the pier and measured the depth of the pilings without getting into the water - he could see the end of the tape measure at the bottom of the Lake from on the pier. That’s clear! This isn’t entirely unusual for this time of year, though. This really is the best time to be on the Lake.
Testing a people-powered pontoon boat - one of the things we're hoping to have available this summer to enjoy on Clear Lake.
Oh, speaking of the pier we are installing an entirely new lift system on the platform portion of the pier. Frankly, the nifty powered lifts have been nothing but a pain in Tony’s back since the first few months we’ve lived here. With the plant life in the Lake, the chain and gear mechanism that sits below the surface picks-up plant life which has jammed the gears and sent the dock platforms into the water on more than one occasion. 

The new lift mechanism isn’t in the water at all and is mechanically powered but can be electrically operated so there are no conditions that would stop us from adjusting the pier, save being captured by space aliens or something like that. New lifts are being installed on both sections of the pier so that it will be adjusted for your boat when you arrive. The ramp has been newly-marked and we’re really excited about this summer from a boating standpoint. Of course we never charge our guests to use the pier and boat launch while they're staying with us. 

Speaking of boating, we are presently looking into having kayaks on-hand again to rent. We are working with a local kayak company to purchase our own kayaks which would solve the problem of kayaks being available here based on the whims of teenagers. We also purchased a pedal-powered two-person pontoon boat and have our own unique puddle duck racer, the home-made wooden boat that even Tony can’t flip over. 

Yes, there will come a time when Clear Lake becomes less friendly to boaters as it goes through its natural cycle of producing algae and plant life as it has for the past few million years. But, until then, it’s a paradise for fishing and boating. 

With the outstanding weather we’ve been having we’re enjoying water sports early this year and the Lake is waiting for you to come enjoy it. 

Voted one of the 10 Wackiest Hotels in the world 29 Mar 2014, 11:45 am

There are literally tens of thousands of lodging properties around the world and visitors to Hotels.com have an almost infinite number of choices. So when the site’s editors sat down to choose the 10 best, or wackiest, it was quite a daunting task. But after careful consideration a little B&B in Nice comprised of nine railroad cabooses was chosen for the list of Top 10 Wackiest Hotels in the world

The Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast in Nice, California on the shore of Clear Lake is certainly in good company on this list. 

Among the properties listed are the V8 Hotel in Germany where they’ve cut a vintage Cadillac in half and turned it into a bed, there’s a place where you actually sleep under the water with glass all around so you can see the fish and there’s even a hotel made entirely of ice. Brrr. Fortunately the Featherbed Railroad has year ‘round climate control in each caboose. 

On the list, only three of the properties are in the United States; the Featherbed Railroad, the Nickelodeon Resort in Orlando and the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Considering that two of the three properties are in California, it shows how left coasters definitely are free thinkers.

Wacky isn’t really a stretch for the Featherbed Railroad whose owners, Tony & Peggy Barthel, appreciate the off-beat and unusual. The rooms themselves are all vintage cabooses collected in the 1980s as the railroads were dismantling their fleet of these. The cabooses were trucked to Lake County, which never had a railroad, and placed on tracks.

Each of the nine guest rooms has been decorated in its own unique theme which range from mild to wild. Among the themes are a bordello room that actually has art purchased from the auction at the world-famous Mustang Ranch near Las Vegas. There is also a motorcycle-themed room that features a two-person spa tub and handle bars on the head board. Other rooms celebrate the burgeoning local wine industry or reflect the destination’s popularity for honeymoons and anniversaries.

Since taking over the resort in 2008 Tony & Peggy Barthel have carefully chosen to update the themes of each room while also upgrading amenities and materials used. All the rooms feature high-end touches like Comphy brand sheets, Turkish towels and in-room coffee makers with Thanksgiving coffee. All nine guest rooms are individually climate controlled. There are even tandem bicycles for those who want to try something else that’s adventurously wacky.

The property is situated right on Clear Lake, considered the second-oldest lake in the world and the bass capital of the west coast. There is a pier and boat launch for guests as well as a swimming pool that’s solar-heated in the summer.

Being a bed and breakfast, the property features a full morning meal that includes locally-sourced and organic ingredients. Many meals feature home-made sausage and savory breakfasts even can include a dessert to make the meal balanced.

“We were pretty surprised and thrilled when we found that we were in the top ten world-wide!” said co-owner Tony Barthel. “This is quite a list of cool places - I wouldn’t mind staying in any of these.”

The Featherbed Railroad is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The couples’ resort is pet-friendly in specific rooms and is just a few hours from destinations like San Francisco, Sacramento and Chico.