Sometimes things just work out.

Last year I told my husband that I wanted to take a solo weekend writing retreat, or a “writecation,” so I could start working on the book that I hope to complete in 2017. I wanted to check myself into a hotel for a weekend and just write.

I considered booking a room at a hotel in Birmingham, but I knew I needed to get away. Otherwise, the demands of family obligations and the lures of social events with friends would be too much of a distraction.

About a month or so after having this conversation with my husband I was contacted by a representative from Hotel Finial in Anniston, Alabama. They offered me a two-night complimentary stay so I could have the writecation I’d dreamed of. But my stay at Hotel Finial exceeded anything I could have ever imagined!

Originally built in 1888, Hotel Finial began as a private residence, occupied over the years by the McKleroy, Wilson, and Kirby families. This Queen Anne Victorian-style home was eventually converted into the Victoria Hotel to serve local residents seeking a getaway and business travelers who helped Alabama’s growing industries.

In 2015 Del and Ginger Marsh purchased the property and created Hotel Finial, finding a way to give the hotel a more modern look while still preserving elements of its rich history, such as the intricately designed fireplaces and elegant architecture.

Hotel Finial is a bed and breakfast and hotel in one. The main house features four suites — three of which are named for the families who once lived in the home and one called the Grand Ballroom — and sophisticated common rooms perfect for meetings and meals. Behind the house are traditional hotel rooms, a cottage, a pool, and more.

After giving me a brief tour of the hotel, Ginger took me to the Grand Ballroom Suite, which was where I would be staying. When I walked through the door I nearly fainted. My “hotel room” turned out to basically be a one-bedroom apartment! My room included a dining area, a living room, a bedroom, two bathrooms and a writer’s nook, all tastefully decorated to create a chic and modern look.

Before starting my Friday night writing session I ordered carry-out pizza and a salad from Mata’s Greek Pizza, which is just a block away from the hotel. I enjoyed my pie in the dining area of my room and then I got to work.

At home I like to move from room to room when I work. I’ll write a few pages at the desk in my home office, then move to the dining room table to write a few more. When I get stuck I may move to the sofa of the living room and I also really like working in bed so I can spread out all my materials — journals, books, magazines, and laptop.

My huge suite allowed me to move about from room to room just as I do at home, but without getting distracted by dishes that needed to be washed or floors that needed to be swept.

Eventually on Friday night I got hit with writer’s block.  The magazines and books I brought weren’t helping because my problem was I’d lost my sense of direction on my book project. (I’ll write more on this in a future post.) I was struggling with a very specific issue and I needed some advice.

So I turned to Jeff Goins’ podcast The Portfolio Life for guidance. The Wi-Fi at Hotel Finial is lightning fast, so using the internet to listen to podcasts or do research for my book was easy.

After a great night’s sleep, I started the next day with a made-to-order breakfast — bacon, eggs, grits, and biscuits — at the hotel, and then it was back to work. On Saturday, I not only worked on my book, but also worked on blog posts and exclusive content for See Jane Write members.

Everything about Hotel Finial made me feel inspired, from my chic suite to the elegant common areas downstairs. And sometimes while in my room I’d stand in the writer’s nook and just look out the window pondering the stories of all the people who drove by.

When I needed a break from writing, I lounged in the living room where I read the latest issue of Essence and caught an episode of Law & Order SVU.

Saturday night I had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and then spent some time at Spencer’s Bar, the hotel bar which is named after Ginger’s father. Jacob — the bartender at Spencer’s — and I talked music, celebrities, travel, and more. The extrovert in me needed some time to socialize.

After returning to my room, I ended the night  listening to more podcasts and watching a few webinars.

The next morning I enjoyed another cook-to-order breakfast and then hit the road to head back to Birmingham.

I definitely plan to return to Hotel Finial for a vacation with my husband and when I do I’m going to spend time exploring Anniston. While chatting with Ginger and Jacob I learned so much about the city that I’ve planned my whole itinerary for my next trip. Here’s what I plan to do:

Here are more scenes from Hotel Finial:

Photography by Kristen Stringer

Where will you take your solo weekend writing retreat? What do you hope to accomplish during your writecation?

17 Comments on My Solo Weekend Writing Retreat at Hotel Finial

  1. Jeniese Hosey
    February 8, 2017 at 11:42 am (11 months ago)

    Looks like you had a great time! I love a great solo vacay to help me get my mind totally back in order!

    • javacia
      February 8, 2017 at 2:13 pm (11 months ago)

      Yes! I was able to sort through so many ideas.

  2. Elaine Williams
    February 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm (11 months ago)

    OK, add Hotel Finial to my bucket list. Check.

    • javacia
      February 8, 2017 at 2:13 pm (11 months ago)

      You definitely should. That place is amazing!

  3. Reginia Cordell
    February 8, 2017 at 2:16 pm (11 months ago)

    The hotel is absolutely stunning. The U-Shaped desk is simply perfect. They would have had to pry me away from this hotel.

    • javacia
      February 8, 2017 at 2:32 pm (11 months ago)

      Yes! I didn’t want to leave!

  4. Mandy Shunnarah
    February 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm (11 months ago)

    Oh my gosh, I had no idea such a cool spot was in Anniston! I probably wouldn’t have thought to go there for a writer-cation, but now I really want to. It looks like an inspiring place and I can tell you had a good time. And every photo of you is STUNNING. <3

    • javacia
      February 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm (11 months ago)

      I was surprised to find a place like Hotel Finial in Anniston, too. But I’m so glad I did. It was incredible.

  5. Nicole R
    February 8, 2017 at 8:12 pm (11 months ago)

    Great idea and beautiful hotel. And loved seeing the SJW swag 😉

    • javacia
      February 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm (11 months ago)

      Thanks for helping make that SJW swag happen!

  6. La'Toya
    February 9, 2017 at 6:52 am (11 months ago)

    This place looks amazing!!! I never think to visit Anniston. On the list of places to go.

    • javacia
      February 9, 2017 at 6:59 am (11 months ago)

      I know, right?! Anniston is a hidden gem, indeed.

  7. Tiki Curry
    February 9, 2017 at 12:05 pm (11 months ago)

    I love solo trips for whatever you need them for. I swear by them. Thanks for sharing this. I would love to visit this hotel one day. I’ve visited Cheaha Brewing Company and the food is fantastic. I was on the clock, so I didn’t get the chance to partake in the “brewery” portion. Cheaha Mountain is a great hiking spot too. Spent the day with my sisters hiking and it was breathtaking!

    You’ve peaked my interest in adding Anniston as one of my annual trips. Never considered it before.


    • javacia
      February 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm (11 months ago)

      Thanks for reading. I hope you get a chance to go back to Anniston soon. It’s a hidden gem here in Alabama!

  8. Catina
    February 10, 2017 at 6:24 am (11 months ago)

    Stunning hotel. You seemed really relaxed and productive

    • javacia
      February 10, 2017 at 6:44 am (11 months ago)

      Yes, it was an amazing weekend.

  9. Candice
    February 13, 2017 at 6:18 pm (11 months ago)

    I love the Anniston Museum of Natural History. I definitely recommend it!


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