Beaufort House: A Gem in Asheville

I’ll start this piece out by just getting to the point: I love Beaufort House. There. I said it. This B&B in Asheville, North Carolina deserves awards.

I pulled up to Beaufort House, a coral-colored Queen Anne Victorian style building shaded on the edges by draping tree limbs and crawling ivy, in the middle of the afternoon. Shown three rooms for the picking, I chose a newer room downstairs, which is an extension on the home’s old food pantry, but not without taking with me an imprint of one of the other rooms I was shown.

The Rose Room not only includes a bathroom bigger than bedrooms I’ve seen in New York City, but Charlton Heston, who used to own and live in Beaufort House with his wife, used to sleep in the Rose Room. Folklore has it that marks from his burning cigar ashes have scarred the wooden floors near the teal tile framed fireplace. It would have been a nice room to stay in, but the room I eventually chose, the Arbor Room, had a jacuzzi bathtub and a private deck. Jaccuzi bathtub and private deck trumped history for me. I was hot and exhausted. You can’t blame me.

The room was great, but the entire inn is really what’s great…the inn in its entirety. Social hour each late afternoon is accompanied by wine-pourings. Too many glasses of red wine later, I retired to my room to just skip dinner and sleep after having chatted for hours with a fun music-loving mom from Nashville. This is how wine socials at inns should be. You should meet new people. You should drink with them. You should trade email addresses with them at breakfast the next morning after you’re served Morning Cake, sweet and delicious Citrus Crepes (topped with orange zest sugar), juice, coffee, and tea.

And Beaufort House is how B&Bs should be. You should feel comfortable in someone else’s home. You should get to know that person who owns that home—you should want to get to know them. You should feel full, clean, welcomed, and liked. And that’s how I felt at Beaufort House. And I’m guessing that’s how you’ll feel too when you stay there during your next Asheville visit.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz

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Soniat House: A New Orleans Throwback

The Soniat House in New Orleans isn’t like a hotel at all. Nor is it like an inn or a bed and breakfast. What it is like is stepping back to turn-of-the-century New Orleans and visiting your very wealthy aunt at her estate. You knock gently on the thick front door that meets the East Quarter street and wait under the light of the lanterns for your warm welcome into her home. Once the door swings open and you kiss her hello, you drag your bags along the stone-paved and candle-lit corridor behind her. She escorts you past the flourishing courtyard in the center of her home on the way to your room.

Each room at Soniat House is the way I imagine rooms in old Southern mansions would have been—varying in décor from room to room, but woven tightly together with a common thread of eloquence and class. This is where Auntie Rose leaves you, but not without showing you around the room first. She pulls open the closet doors to show you spare linens, towels, and bathrobes. She carefully lights the fireplace so that you won’t have to hassle with it yourself. She grins as she shows you the Jacuzzi tub and leaves the television remote on your bedside table while instructing you to spend your free time outside. Before she kisses you goodnight, she subtly insists that you join everyone in the house for breakfast in the courtyard—a signature wake-you-up-the-right-way course of freshly made biscuits, jam, juice, and chicory.

Soniat House is just like this—minus the wealthy aunt part. It’s unlike any other place I have stayed; exuding unmistakable grace and impeccable style all while transporting you to an older New Orleans—a fantasy well-played in such a quiet and residential section of the city. But within a few blocks you’ll feel right at home with the notorious French Quarter you hear stories about, but not without the luxury of tipsily tapping your way back to your old-style room, engulfed in mystery and charm so thick you could choke on it.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz and Elizabeth Seward

A Perfect B&B–in the country, near the city: Sun and Cricket, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Straight out of a storybook, the Sun and Cricket bed and breakfast is tucked beneath crisp and colorful falling leaves on a private lane named after the owner, Tara. Tara stands outside of the carriage house with me at dusk detailing the development of the grounds over the years. Tara Lane lies on a recycled foundation. Her husband and co-owner, John, salvaged what he could use from the old Highway 80 while working in construction. And the couple’s pioneering resourcefulness doesn’t stop there. Tara motions to the tall white barn beside her black horses—a juxtaposing landscape imprinted in my memory. An Amish barn stood miles away years ago that provided the materials for this build. A dance hall for women, opened in the 1930’s, also contributes to the property’s structures where hand-collected rocks are woven together to form walls and libraries of audio books, evidence of Tara’s past life as an audio book reviewer, pop up frequently enough to make you wish you still had your old Walkman.

There are only two places to stay at Sun and Cricket: the fabulous log cabin suite, complete with a lofted bedroom, fireplace, and downstairs which can be rented for an additional fee or the cozy and charming carriage house suite at the far end of the grounds, also equipped with a fireplace.

There’s something uncharacteristically warm about Sun and Cricket, especially in an increasingly cold B&B industry wherein many B&Bs have become more concerned with achieving the stale hotel aesthetic than with continuing the long tradition of intimacy found only in a B&B. Feeling slightly under the weather, I wrapped myself up in the plush spare blankets on the carriage house bed, eating popcorn and sipping on hot chocolate—both of which are standard amenities to the room—along with dvds , audio books, wine glasses and dishware, and even a Checkers board with wooden red and green apple pieces (fitting since they have apple trees on the property).

In the morning, Tara does what I’ve yet to see at any other B&B: she offers a 3 course breakfast to guests, which comes at no additional cost. Sweet and spongy bread paired with coffee and cider prepared my senses for her mouth-watering baked Granny Smith apple which left me drooling just enough to ravenously devour her ‘Baked BLT’ when it was brought to the table (local bacon atop homemade bread with local eggs and cheese and homegrown tomatoes and herbs. One of the most delicious breakfast meals I have yet to try).

With 35 acres to its name, Sun and Cricket boasts hiking trails, horses for riding, an in-ground pool for use during warmer seasons, availability of a masseuse in room, beautiful countryside scenery—and all of this less than 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh’s boisterous downtown. Sun and Cricket is the perfect way to seclude yourself in nature while still in reach of the city.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz

DC Inns-A Bed & Breakfast Experience To Remember

(The patio of Woodley Park)

Have you ever wanted to travel without having to feel like a total stranger, entrapped in a sterile hotel with no one to communicate with? As you might guess, this feeling of comfortable travel is one I’m always on a hunt for. (Hence the purpose of this site!) Some hotels do really go above and beyond, and for those hotels, I am grateful. I, however, prefer to embark on the experience of the inn when I can, particularly that of the bed and breakfast. But finding a good bed and breakfast isn’t quite as simple as it seems. Sure, we’ve got the internet as a sprawling resource these days, but I am still impressed when I find a bed and breakfast that really gets it all right. And DC Inns gets it all right.

DC Inns is, collectively, two different inns that are about one mile away from each other. Located in the Dupont Circle and Woodley Park sections of DC, the inns have been turned over and transformed into elegant, yet cozy, homes to travelers in less than a decade.

(The room at Woodley Park)

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