It’s officially sugar season in Vermont! In celebration of the annual Maple Open House Weekend happening March 25th & 26th, we’ve put together a slideshow of our top Vermont inns.
Bed & Breakfast news for Innkeepers and B&B travelers
There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding. It doesn’t take a wizard, but sometimes, it would certainly be helpful to have one! It turns out at Kaleidoscope Inn & Gardens in Nipomo, CA a seriously spell-bounding effort is being made to make one couple’s dream come true with their upcoming Harry Potter-themed wedding. Known on California’s Central Coast for gorgeous garden weddings and receptions, this romantic property is an exquisitely restored 1887 Victorian home that’s situated near the ocean midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located just off Highway 101, it’s convenient to several area attractions, plenty of outdoor activities, and features an acre of beautiful, lush gardens with space that can accommodate up to 300 guests. We spoke with Beki Beauchamp, Kaleidoscope’s Innkeeper & Events Coordinator, for inside scoop on conjuring the upcoming nuptials.
Q: How did the Harry Potter-themed wedding come about?
A: At the Fall bridal show in San Luis Obispo we were running an offer for a free bridal shower. Our winner (the bride) had actually signed up for a friend and then gotten engaged shortly afterwards. We had talked about a Harry Potter-themed wedding at the booth and how awesome the idea was. She decided to use the shower for herself in the end (after talking to the friend) and fell in love with the venue, so it was clearly meant to be. On booking, she explained that she and her fiancé are big Harry Potter fans (among other fandoms) and that she would like to run the theme throughout as much as possible. Being a big Harry Potter fan myself, she had me instantly excited and onboard!
Kaleidoscope Inn & Gardens
Q: What are you doing to prepare for the event?
A. The wedding isn’t until the end of October, so we still have plenty of planning in the works. Most of the final details will be locked in at the next meeting. Of course, we are trying to add some magic throughout the decorations and through events taking place during the reception as a theme. I know most of the bridal party is cosplaying as characters from the books, which will be fun. Personally, I am planning to put on my Tonks costume to coordinate! In preparation here I have been collecting sturdy branches this winter to use as broom sticks on the day. We will add brush to the ends and hang them from the trees for that Quidditch-ready feel and maybe set up a mini pitch to actually play on one of the lawns. The bride and groom had been discussing display ideas. I suggested some cauldrons, but they have been having trouble sourcing some. Having previously been involved in living history with the Sealed Knot (a British Civil War reenactment society) in the UK, I know Renaissance fairs can be a great place to find accouterments of that type. As such, they will be getting friendly with their Renfair friends.
Halloween is also the perfect time to shop for little extras on a budget too, when else can you stock up on plenty of witch and wizard hats for all the guests to wear? We have a little stone-built room out back called The Cottage, which is perfect to recreate a mini Hagrid’s hut. We are also talking about hiding a papier-mâché Buckbeak in there. The centerpieces will be simple flowers with candles and possibly books underneath. Plus, each table will be named instead of numbered as per houses, places, and people from the books. We have some owls that reside in the gardens’ eucalyptus trees already, but some cuddly stuffy ones will be installed in other trees with letters to add to the theme. One of our willows will be named Whomping. The bride may be changing from a gorgeous dress into fun evening costume, which will be easy to swap over in our handy private bride’s dressing room. When releasing tables, we are most likely going to have Harry Potter trivia going. If you answer a question correctly, you can free your table to eat! The plan is to finish the night with everyone casting lumos on their wands to say farewell to the couple (sparklers). Much more is to come though. Every time we have a meeting more ideas come up!
Q: Can you tell us what has been the most challenging and fun about pulling this together?
A: The most challenging thing so far is probably making sure the ideas do not run away from the budget and time available. It is very easy to dream about a Hogwarts Castle onsite, for example, but executing that would be extremely time consuming and expensive for those all too few hours of enjoyment. As with most couples, it is very easy to say you will make everything at home, but very soon the projects add up and you don’t have time to finish half of them. It’s a case of working out those little things to add the magic, without going overboard, and helping to temper the creativity to what is possible. I think for our bride and groom it has also been difficult tactfully turning down guests who have wild ideas of their own about dramatic reenactments for the day. The most fun part so far has probably been eyeing up unruly branches to see if they would be suitable for a second life as an imitation Nimbus 3000, alongside every planning meeting, which could not be more enjoyable as we get diverted discussing more creative ideas and possible executions for them.
Q: Do you plan on doing other themed weddings, or have you already done some?
A: Here at the inn we are always open to whatever dreams guests would like to create. Our decoration rules are pretty relaxed compared to a lot of venues. We have had Disney princess and an Alice in Wonderland themes for birthday parties fairly recently. Wedding-wise most people don’t tend to go too extreme, instead making the day their own with their favorite colors, accent pieces around the grounds, or themed decor (such as a barn or beach themes). Although, we have had some very entertaining processional songs, including the Imperial March from Star Wars! I am definitely always in for any theme, especially if they are happy for me to hop in with my creativity and dress up fun. If it’s creative and different, I am definitely all in! In itself, Kaleidoscope Inn is a little bit different from a lot of other places locally, especially for the price (our weddings start at just $2500 for up to 65 people including chairs, tables, linens, napkins, setup, breakdown and coordination), and in this part of California there are not many 130-year-old houses, so we help stand out from the wineries and golf courses that are common round here. Plus, they can stay onsite and make it extra convenient for their close family and friends. If I could I would love to see as many Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dungeon and Dragons, Disney, Star Wars, Star Trek, Steam Punk, Anime, Medieval, Victorian, 40′s, 50′s, or any themed weddings as couples care to put on right alongside the beautiful, elegant, and classical weddings that are also loved here. Only the future can tell if more wonderfully creative couples will grant that wish!
Q: Any other insights on the wedding coordination process?
A: Having worked weddings since my tween years and running this place with my father who has been working in the wedding industry over 15 years, we always get excited to try something new. If it is something we haven’t done before then we will give it a go and maybe learn something along the way. With all weddings, a lot of bride and grooms are always worried about what is ‘normal’. While there is certainly something lovely about having a classic wedding that has traditions reaching through centuries. I always remind my couples that it is their day, they can do whatever they would like, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not what people are used to, they can either set a new tradition or just go for the day that everyone will talk about for years to come and will stand out from the crowd. If you met and fell in love through your mutual love of something as awesome as Harry Potter why not celebrate that?
Now that the weather is starting to get warmer, our thoughts are turning towards dreamy destinations ideal for spring and summer. One of our favorites is Newagen Seaside Inn in Southport, ME, located on the tip of Cape Newagen. Nestled in the heart of Maine’s celebrated Boothbay Harbor region, this luxurious inn resides in a picture-perfect setting that features the spectacular open sea, rocky cliffs, thick forest, and breathtaking views. Whether guests head there for a romantic getaway or family gathering, this historic yet newly restored property caters to all ages.
Away from the crowds and close to the sea, Newagen Seaside Inn is home to top-notch hospitality, gorgeous accommodations, and exceptional coastal casual dining at the oceanfront restaurant onsite, which serves complimentary breakfast each morning in the sun-drenched, oceanview dining room, as well as lunch and dinner. The enticing farm-to-table, authentic Maine dishes featured on the menu are locally sourced, seasonal, and perfectly seasoned. Freshly caught seafood and lobster, plus farmstand produce, are the ingredients that showcase both the traditional and new recipes inspired by the uniqueness of the region.
Food and drink enthusiasts will also savor some seriously delectable cocktails. At the inn, guests can enjoy them in the red brick and wood-paneled Pub, which overlooks lush lawns that expand to the sea, on the outdoor deck under the stars, or near the cozy outdoor fireplace on the evenings when temperatures turn cooler. Live local music is also on tap Thursdays and Sundays. While a visit to the inn must be part of your B&B bucket list, you can also indulge in the Newagen experience right at home with one of the inn’s signature cocktail specialties, Newagen’s Last Word. This refreshing drink is sure to become your go-to for the season. It’s shaken not stirred and is traditionally served straight up. Super spy James Bond would definitely approve, and so do we – enjoy!
Newagen’s Last Word
1 part Alchemy Gin
1/2 part Green Chartreuse
1 1/2 parts Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 part Key Lime Juice
Fill shaker with all of the ingredients. Shake and pour into rocks glass filled with ice. Add cucumber sliced on a mandoline and lime wedge for garnish and light refreshing flavor.
All images are courtesy of Newagen Seaside Inn.
Spring is almost here (less than three weeks away!), and we’d like to get a head start by showcasing some of the sprawling, gorgeous porches that our inns have to offer. Time to grab a cool drink, kick back, and enjoy the view at one of these 9 B&Bs in the U.S. From Florida to South Carolina, there’s a comfortable chair with your name on it. Check out our slideshow below.
Photo courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
Known as the country’s “Greatest Springtime Celebration,” the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC is a yearly event that’s a visual feast for the senses. Honoring the friendship gift of the cherry blossom trees from Japan to the US, travelers to the region enjoy numerous daily events that feature traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and foster community spirit. This year the festival runs from March 15 through April 16. There are several inns in the region where guests can stay during the experience, and some of them also have insider secrets to share for making the most of it!
A Victorian B&B made up of three 100-year-old buildings in historic Adams Morgan, the European-style Adam’s Inn is situated on a quiet residential street that borders a lively, multicultural entertainment district. It features over 100 of the area’s most popular restaurants, shops, and music clubs. Guest rooms feature unique, home-style decor. Some include a private bath and 55″ televisions, and many can accommodate up to four guests. All accommodations include air conditioning, breakfast, and WiFi. The inn is easily accessible from Baltimore, Annapolis, and North Virginia by public mass transit. To help guests navigate the festivities, sales manager Kevin Corrigan suggests that they save themselves the hassle of DC traffic by taking public transportation. He also says that those who want an alternative view of the beautiful blooms should opt for a paddle boat on the tidal basin!
Swann House Bed & Breakfast
Situated on a gorgeous tree-lined street in DC’s vibrant DuPont Circle, Swann House Bed & Breakfast Inn is convenient to numerous local outdoor cafes, a short walk to museums, and historical sites including The White House, presidential monuments, and Washington National Cathedral, among others. Guests can relax on the inn’s assortment of decks, porches, patios, as well as a slate courtyard with a swimming pool and gardens. The spacious accommodations include private bath, cable TV and VCR’s, phones with voicemail and data ports, and Jacuzzi tubs.
On March 1 the National Park Service predicted that the peak bloom of the cherry trees will be March 14-17 this year, so there’s no time like the present to head down to DC!
Chatfield Hollow Bed and Breakfast
There are several exciting things happening at BnBFinder right now, and I am so thrilled to share them with you! Not only are we launching a new website soon, which will include a Plan a Road Trip feature just in time for summer, but we also have several B&B’s who just joined the fold. At the beginning of each month we will feature these properties here on our blog, so be sure to check them out along with our city guides, recipes, and slideshows (among many other things!).
I’d like to introduce you to two of our newest New England properties – Hobble Inn in Stowe, VT and Chatfield Hollow Bed and Breakfast in Killingworth, CT. Both offer guests cozy accommodations and locations close to area attractions, while also being quiet retreats ideal for a midweek or weekend escape. These properties and their regions are perfect for year-round getaways, and there’s no time like the present to start planning.
Q: What differentiates your inn from others in your area/region?
A: Shelter Island House exudes a luxurious modern beach flair with unmatchable accommodations and service on the island. We are rated #1 on TripAdvisor, and we are an intimate boutique-style hotel with oversized rooms and bathrooms, complimentary bicycles, petanque courts and outdoor games, picturesque pool, and an onsite restaurant, bar, and outdoor pool bar. Having been operating as a hotel since 1866, we are one of the longest-running hotels on Shelter Island. We also differ in that we are family-owned and operated, upscale but unpretentious, and we are a pet-friendly property.
Q: What makes Shelter Island so special as an alternative to the Hamptons?
A: Shelter Island has been rated as one of the best laid-back beach towns in the Northeast by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Being so close to the Hamptons makes the region popular, but the physicality of being an island and only being accessible by ferry allows for a bit more magic and a lot less hype – often called the “the un-Hamptons” of Long Island.
Innkeeper/owner Janet Rogler of Shelter Island House
Q: What kind of hospitality experience do you offer your guests?
A: We encourage our staff to welcome guests as if they were welcoming a friend into their own home, and they are instructed to go above and beyond whenever possible for guests with any special needs. Seasonally, our complimentary offerings change from a glass of local wine upon arrival, to fireside wine and cheese, or coffee and tea at the bar. All rooms are stocked with complimentary bottled water and our favorite North Fork Potato chips. We offer fruit-infused water in our hotel lobby or poolside, and of course, our daily continental breakfast with our specialty fresh baked, all butter croissants! Guests love that we have complimentary beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas for their use, our on-site pool & gardens, and the complimentary bicycles.
Q: Which type of traveler do you cater to most often? (Solo travelers, honeymooners, girlfriend getaways, etc.) Why do you think this is?
A: Shelter Island House has had the pleasure of hosting many guests from different demographics. The majority of the guests are couples and honeymooners, however, our excellent accommodations for family vacations, reunions, and bachelorette getaways have drawn a strong following. The onsite Tavern makes it easy for families and groups to relax and not feel the need to rush around the island looking for large group dining. Our demographics are mostly New York City and New England, but we have a solid number of European travelers.
Q: What makes you stand out from a traditional B&B?
A: We offer additional amenities that we know our guests enjoy such as the restaurant, bar, pool and poolside bar, petanque courts, and soon to be shuttle service. We also offer daily housekeeping service.
Q: What has been your favorite “guest story”?
A: There have been so many memorable stories that we have enjoyed and smiled about since we have opened. The candle-lit engagement in our gazebo with rose petals strewn and the fire pit crackling nearby under the stars was certainly a favorite. However, the couple celebrating their 60th-year wedding anniversary who came back to Shelter Island House to celebrate at the same location where they spent their honeymoon was unforgettable.
Q: What do you love most about being an innkeeper?
A: My favorite part about being an innkeeper is meeting so many wonderful people from all over the world and continuously challenging myself to make their visit at Shelter Island House the best possible experience. Going that extra step for my guests puts a smile on their face, and it is mutually rewarding.
Q: Last spring, actress Jessica Chastain stayed at your boutique B&B. Do you regularly cater to celebrities?
A: Shelter Island is becoming more of a hotspot for celebrities like Jessica Chastain. We have had the pleasure of hosting different celebrities at both the hotel and the restaurant.
Q: What would be your #1 piece of advice for aspiring innkeepers?
A: My #1 piece of advice for aspiring innkeepers is to always take the extra step to make your guests feel at home and welcome. It goes a long way for everyone!
Fat Tuesday is just around the corner and for many that means indulging in great Cajun dishes, extra strong cocktails, and some beads (of course). Every year, thousands of people are drawn to the Big Easy, flooding the streets as they celebrate Mardi Gras. Make it a celebration to remember by planning a trip to one of these NOLA B&Bs for some fancy-free partying, New Orleans style.
Find yourself directly on the parade route while enjoying your Mardi Gras stay at the Sully Mansion. Built in 1890 by architect Thomas Sully, this 9-room Queen Anne with 14-foot ceilings and original stained-glass windows is located in the Garden District steps from fashionable Magazine Street. The B&B has fourteen-foot ceilings with original plaster medallions, wide pine plank flooring, a large wraparound porch, antiques and many special touches which embody the grace and charm of a bygone era yet with all the modern-day conveniences.
Catch some of the best parade sights as you watch from the doorstep and balcony at the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast located in the Garden District. Nestled under the shady oaks of majestic St. Charles Avenue, the renovated 7,600 square foot historic mansion is the picture of New Orleans, decorated with period furnishing to emulate the original style. Each room features a private bath, personal central air and heat controls, telephone, cable TV and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Take in the natural beauty of majestic oak trees and enjoy the convenience of great local shops and restaurants, convenient public transportation, and so much more, when staying at the Chimes Bed and Breakfast. Located in the Uptown/Garden District area provides plenty of opportunity to explore all that NOLA has to offer. The inns features five unique guests rooms, all of which have their own private entrance, and breakfast, parking, and Wi-Fi are all included.
We all know the nagging feeling of needing to tackle a large cleaning project: the articles of clothes stuffed away in the back of our closets that haven’t been worn in a decade, piles of paperwork crammed in desk drawers that would be better suited filed electronically, and that garage full of unmarked boxes. Thanks to innkeeper Debbie of the Black Sheep Inn & Spa in Hammondsport, NY, we’ve got some helpful tips to help you de-clutter your home (and maybe even your mind in the process).
When Debbie and her husband, Marc, made the move from a 2,500 square foot home in Cleveland to a property over double the size (5,600 square feet), she realized she had much more to do beyond the typical pack-up. Sorting, organizing, boxing, and choosing what to take with her became a necessary process. “We began with things that were more external and not used all the time or rarely”, says Debbie. Her advice? Make piles according to things you’d like to 1) Keep, 2) Sell, 3) Donate, 4) Recycle or reuse in a new way that adds purpose to your home.
The best way to tackle the decluttering of your home, overall living space, and your life is to take small steps that ultimately lead to bigger lifestyle changes. Combined, these seemingly tiny changes lead to large improvements which you can easily maintain in the long-run.
“Many of our goals in cleaning out our homes also helps to clean out our lives, mentally, physically and spiritually…and it helps others too”.
You don’t have to dish out hundreds of Benjamin’s to enjoy a relaxing President’s Day getaway. This year, the holiday falls on a Monday, which means that most people will be enjoying a three-day weekend. Why not take advantage and book a trip that will leave you both refreshed and informed? Lovingly revived or preserved, these three B&Bs located in long-established hot spots are filled with historic charm.
While the first president of the United States, George Washington, may not have slept here, the Hillbrook Inn in Charles Town, WV sits directly on the president’s first land purchase which he made in 1752. At the young age of 18, George Washington invested his earnings as a surveyor in 550 acres of farmland on Bullskin Run, two miles southwest of Charles Town, with Hillbrook Inn’s 18 acres being a part of the original purchase.
Holladay House Bed and Breakfast
Before, during, and after the American Civil War, James Madison’s nephew, John Madison Chapman, owned the property that is now Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in Orange, VA. Today, guests can travel back in time alongside period pieces (opera glasses from the era, a top hat, map of the country, etc.) and stay in the John Madison Suite, appropriately named after John Madison’s nephew (also an owner of the property). The inn also offers history and heritage packages where visitors can tour picturesque landscapes and estates along “Constitution Highway” (Route 20), complete with a full itinerary, map, picnic basket lunch, and a complete breakfast each morning for $549 for two guests, plus tax.
Aldrich Guest House
The Aldrich Guest House in Galena, IL has more than one connection to powerful people (and presidents) in history. The second owner of the property, Congressman J. Russell Jones, was a friend of Abraham Lincoln, who often stayed on the property after making one of his many speeches in Galena. The third owner/builder of the property, Mr. R.H. McClellan (also a congressman), was friends with Ulysses S. Grant. It is said that when Grant was training his troops for the Civil War, he used the yard in order to train his troops from Galena.