A Unique, Historic PA Hotel Near Idlewild:
One of the most surprising and interesting hotels we’ve stayed in recently is found in the sweet little town of Ligonier, in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania: just nine minutes from Idlewild amusement park, 45 minutes from Fallingwater, and an hour from Pittsburgh.
The History of Thistledown at Seger House
Thistledown is a small, locally-owned boutique hotel housed in a restored 1914 mansion which used to belong to a coal baron named John Seger. The best part? Seger had a lust for colorful stained glass windows, ornate woodwork, and chandeliers, and all of them have been restored and polished to a vibrant gleam.
When the Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Bureau revealed they would be putting me up at Thistledown while I researched and photographed the region for an article feature, I knew I’d be in for some historic mansion surprises; however, I didn’t expect to find…
The First Stained Glass BATHROOM I’ve Seen!
The photo above shows the brilliant stained glass window… in the bathroom of our hotel room at Thistledown! I’ve never before seen the juxtaposition of a tissue box with 100-year-old glasswork, but I like it.
As several commenters on this article pointed out, after it was a mansion but before it was a hotel, Thistledown at Seger House used to be a hospital! Many local residents were even born there — a delightful entry to the world, surrounded by stained glass and history.
A Mix of Fancy and Homey
Thistledown at Seger House has a very different feel than a sterile ultra-luxury hotel. It has real character and quirks. Yes, as you can see above, our hotel room did have a fireplace, two chandeliers (including one in our bathroom, pictured below), and luscious dark wood detail.
However, none of those traditionally “luxury” details were done in a soul-less, cookie-cutter manner. For example, each chandelier is different, and each clearly has a story behind it. This hotel has the energy of a hundred years of history and real humans.
Myriam’s Table: The Restaurant at the Hotel
Crystal chandeliers making you hungry? Of course they are. Let’s trot downstairs, then, to the farm-to-table restaurant on the first floor of Thistledown: Myriam’s Table. We had breakfast at this spot both mornings of our stay, because the crepes and the egg bowls were so good.
Two Important Notes About the Restaurant:
There are two key things to know about Myriam’s Table — besides the fact that it’s highly yummy. First, it is not affiliated with the hotel beyond sharing a building. This means that it is sometimes not open even though Thistledown is, so check the restaurant’s hours and days of operation carefully.
Breakfast is Not Included, But is Worth It!
This non-affiliation is connected to the second clarification: While it is super convenient to have breakfast right downstairs from your room, the meal is not included with the price of a night’s stay, as it is in some hotels. Is it still worth eating at Myriam’s Table, though? YES!
Unique Hotel Decoration Details
Heading back to the hotel itself, let’s take a moment to browse it’s delightful and different decor decisions, many of which feature local craftspeople or restored historic mansion elements. First up: This glass artichoke candle holder in the sitting room!
A Magical Gate with Iron Ivy
Next: the curling metal vines that wrap around the front entryway gate. The art gallery down the street from Thistledown, Main Exhibit, is a remarkable store of American crafts which boasts knives made by the same artist in a genius manner. (Love ironwork? Check out the blacksmithing classes in nearby Farmington, PA!)
The Stunningly Artistic Entry Portal
Here is a zoomed-out view of that fabulous gate, through which you enter both the hotel and Myriam’s Table restaurant. I wonder how long it took for the artist to craft all the vines!
Stained Glass Ceiling Lights
Moving from iron flowers to glass ones, here is a detailed shot of the stained glass lamp in the back room of Myriam’s Table. Note: If you enjoy glass art, do not miss the phenomenal collection of glass paperweights at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art down the road in Ligonier!
A Claw Foot Bathtub in Our Hotel Room
I’ve always wanted to stay in a hotel room with a claw foot tub, and this one was fun! These two photos show both the tub and the vibe of the hotel well: It is a luxury item, presented with a uniquely quirky, homey, and historic feel.
The Claw Foot Close-Up Analysis
Looking more closely at the claw foot, I’m struck by how subtle it is. What animal is it? A chicken foot? A baby lion with trimmed fingernails? Unclear, but very cute.
A Central Location in Ligonier
Thistledown is a particularly convenient hotel to stay in for a getaway because you won’t need your car to explore the town. Shops, restaurants, and even a bowling alley are just steps away.
Parking at Thistledown
We did appreciate the easy parking lot in the back of the hotel, since we needed our car for the short drive to Linn Run State Park and Forbes State Forest.
Things to Do in the Laurel Highlands
Ligonier, PA is an excellent base from which to explore the wide region of southwestern Pennsylvania known as the Laurel Highlands. But where to start? Let’s explore.
The Fred Rogers Trail is Nearby in Latrobe
Less than 20 minutes northwest of Ligonier is Latrobe, PA: the birthplace of Fred Rogers (the ACTUAL Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) and the heart of the Fred Rogers Trail: a series of sites from Pittsburgh through the Laurel Highlands which help visitors understand this remarkable man better.
See the Mister Rogers Trolley, Puppets, and Cardigan
I particularly loved seeing the real Land of Make-Believe trolley and puppets at the museum in Latrobe! Ligonier is an excellent base to stay while following the trail.
Fallingwater: What Makes the House So Famous?
Let’s move on to the most famous attraction of the area! Though not everyone is familiar with the name “Laurel Highlands,” most people know this region for its famed Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater house. I can confirm from our visit that it’s worth every ounce of its high reputation, and is a must see.
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg
Half an hour from Thistledown sits the Westmoreland Museum: a delightfully welcoming — and FREE — museum that is a hit for all ages. Their activities for children are absolutely engrossing, and I confess that I got sucked into the bridge building station.
Fun in the City of Pittsburgh, PA
If you’re reading this, it’s possible you’re from Pittsburgh and thus don’t need this tip, but if you’re only in Pennsylvania for the Laurel Highlands and Fallingwater, don’t miss out on the city of Pittsburgh.
Visiting Pittsburgh has proven so enjoyable that I’ve now made a point to spend at least a night there every single year. Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands have become one of my favorite regions in the country!
Do Thistledown and Ligonier Interest You?
So what about you? Have you visited Ligonier before, or this unique historic hotel? If not, do either hold appeal for you? Feel free to use this affiliate link to see TripAdvisor reviews and availability for Thistledown. What are your thoughts about stained glass windows and chandeliers in hotel bathrooms? Do share!
We were guests of the Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Bureau, but all opinions and bathroom stained glass fixations are my own.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!