Thursday, February 12, 2009

Travel Thursdays: Some of Our Favorite Inns

Another idea I had for a regular column is about travel. We travel more than most of our friends on a regular basis, because of the lack of little ones, but I would love to travel more! So these posts will be dedicated to our travel adventures and other fun stories, good deals, or whatever I might find online! Hope you enjoy!

My inaugural Travel Thursdays post will be info about various inns and B & B's we've enjoyed! The locations are mostly in the Southeast US. I've included links to the establishments' websites and some of our own pics!

1. Melange Bed and Breakfast: Hendersonville, NC

This B&B will always be special to us because we were engaged here on Valentines Day 2000. Scott surprised me while we were visiting his grandparents in Hendersonville, NC. His sweet little grandmother scouted out all the romantic places in town and found this one for Scottie. We had a marvelous dinner, prepared by the chef-owner, in a private dining room. Before dessert, we went into the parlor, in front of the fireplace, and sat on the red velvet couch. Scott handed me a red gift bag that had a note rolled up in the bottom. At the end of the note I looked up and he was on his knee holding up a ring! I was so surprised and excited that I threw my arms around his neck, completely forgetting to even look at the ring! A few minutes later the owners brought out a cake that had my soon-to-be married initials on it! They were so happy for us and took our picture, looked at the ring, etc.

Fast-forward to November 2001, and we are finally married and on our honeymoon! We had saved and planned on going to Europe for 2 weeks, but the 9-11 attacks changed those plans. So we took 2 weeks and wandered around North Carolina, spending time in the mountains and on the Outer Banks. We spent 3 or 4 nights at Melange, and the owners remembered us and were so excited that we came back!

The inn itself is an old house, has 5 or 6 rooms, all decorated with an abundance of antiques. We stayed in the Rose Suite on the top floor. This spacious suite takes up what should be the entire attic area, and has a sitting area with a TV and a bath with jetted tub. The owners are gracious, and not pushy. We slept in most mornings, so we missed breakfast, and maid service, but they would leave a little pile of clean towels outside our door.

This B&B gets our award for "Most Romantic", for obvious reasons!

2. Maraton House: London, UK

We traveled to London and Paris for our 5th anniversary in 2006. We mostly stayed at Marriot properties, thanks to Scott's dad's generous contribution of reward points, but we wanted to stay in one unique European place on our trip. So, after much searching and looking online, we found Maraton House, in the Kensington area of London.

Maraton House in a former life was a hostel, but I think a fairly nice one, considering the area we were in. The current owners converted it to be a small B&B, boutique-ish hotel. The rooms are tiny, in the European tradition, and not all of the rooms have "en suite" accommodations. (En suite means the bathroom is an actual private bath, not a hall or community bath. Be very sure of what type of room you book when in Europe, if you are wanting a private bath.) But, the room we had was charming, and included and electric teapot and a small television. We had a tiny balcony that overlooked the community park. The breakfast is mostly traditional British, but they did offer cold cereals for their Western visitors. It was fun to have a traditional breakfast, but I wasn't all that impressed. I felt like the food could've been better.

Kensington is a great area of London, easily accessible by several area tube stops. Kensington Palace is nearby, which is where Princess Di resided while still married to the Prince. There's little green areas scattered all over, quaint shops and plenty of pubs and restaurants. We ate a couple of times at the pub on the corner of our street while in London, and it was great! We were also close to where Samford University students live while studying abroad, the Daniel House. We visited a couple of students we knew, took them to dinner, and caught them up on the gossip from home!

3. Keefer Mansion Inn: Thorold, Canada

I traveled to Canada for the first time for our 6th anniversary in 2007. We planned to visit Buffalo, NY (Scott's hometown), Niagara Falls and Toronto. We decided to stay close to the falls area, but everything nearby was very touristy and seemed over-priced. Finally we ran across the Keefer Mansion Inn in little Thorold, about 15 minutes from the Falls area.

The inn is an historical home, built by one of the first settlers to the area, and has been beautifully restored. The innkeepers are extremely nice and helpful. Staying here truly was one of the best inn experiences we've had. The breakfasts were wonderful, and we also ate dinner one night in the main dining room. Our room was posh and comfortable and featured a wonderful four-poster canopy bed and clawfoot tub.

This area and Keefer Mansion is a great alternative to staying in the middle of the Falls area, and is only 1 1/2 hours drive from Toronto. This inn gets my vote for "Best Over-all Experience"!

4. Kilarney House Inn: Hendersonville, NC

We stayed at Kilarney for our 7th anniversary in 2008. We went for a week to North Carolina, and stayed most of the time with Scott's grandparents, but wanted a couple nights to ourselves. We didn't even book this inn until the day before, but that's the advantage of having an anniversary in early November!

The inn is tucked away about 3 minutes from downtown Hendersonville, in a residential neighborhood. Its a great old house and the innkeeper was very nice. Our room had bath accommodations in the room, but were interestingly laid-out. The sink and whirlpool tub were not separated from the bedroom and the toilet was behind a partition. The room itself was bigger than I expected, but I did not expect the bath accommodations how they were. My only complaint was that there was not a stand-up shower. The breakfasts we had while there were outstanding! The innkeeper prepared the food himself, and we were served 2 and 3-course breakfasts! European-style food included a fruit, nut and cheese plate as our breakfast "starter" then something more substantial, like French toast or an egg dish. This inn gets our "Best Breakfast" award!

The link to their website was not working at time of this blog, so this link is to B&B online and still gives great info and pics.

5. Stone Fort Inn: Chattanooga, TN

This is our most recently visited inn! Scott surprised me a couple of weeks ago and we stayed overnight in this Chattanooga inn. The inn is housed in a building downtown that is about 100 years old, furnished with great antiques, and is in a central location to anything you would want to do downtown.

The inn's hosts are gracious and made sure we had everything we needed. The breakfast the next morning was served buffet-style, but with the chef waiting attentively if any guests needed some help. Scott's reason for choosing this inn: Jane Seymour stayed here once! Ha! He knows me too well! Our favorite part of our room was the private balcony with a hot tub! It was freezing the night we stayed there, so the hot tub was perfect!

6. Tranquil House Inn: Manteo, NC

Tranquil House was another one of our honeymoon spots! This inn is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina near the Kitty Hawk area. Scott's uncle owns this establishment, so when the honeymoon plans had to be rescheduled last-minute, we decided to go to NC. The Tranquil House is a very posh, old-money, yacht-clubby place, but everyone was nice and friendly. We just felt slightly out of place, when we realized the other guests drove their yachts to the private dock, rather than their cars! We were, by far, the youngest guests! But don't let that stop you from visiting!

Tranquil House is located on Manteo Island, the location of the "Lost Colony". Quick history lesson: The Lost Colony was left behind on the island for the captain of the ship to sail back to England to get supplies. Months later he returned, and there was no sign of the people he left behind. Nothing. It's been a mystery ever since! Most historians believe that in order to survive, the colonists made friends with the Indians and assimilated into the tribe. Today, the island has museums and living history parks, tons of antique stores, quaint shops and many opportunities to walk or bike to enjoy the scenery. There's not a ton to do around the island, so side trips to light houses and other historical sights are a great idea.

Tranquil House is also home to 1587 Restaurant, referring to the time when the colony disappeared. Its a five-star restaurant with an award-winning cellar and chefs. We ate there twice while staying at the inn and each dinner was wonderful! On one occasion, the chef found out that I was a chef and came out to visit our table (a big deal, in the fine-dining world) and chatted with us for a few minutes. He asked us about dessert and a few minutes later he returned with a tray of every dessert they were making that night, all for the two of us to share, compliments of the chef for our honeymoon! And we ate it all. We have never been so gluttonous in our lives! This inn gets our "Best Dining Experience" award!

Sorry there's no pics from our honeymoon...that was back in the day of real film camers! One day, I'll get them scanned into the computer...

1 comment:

Greta said...

Great idea for a series of posts!