American B&Bs You Should Definitely Stay In
If when you hear “B&B” you picture dainty doilies and threat-level tchotchke accumulation, you’ve stayed at the wrong bed and breakfasts. Across the country, proprietors are serving up food that’s worth the price of admission alone, in surroundings that make generic hotel artwork seem even lamer (a boat again?). From the rustic to the seriously luxurious, these are the best little places to lay your head across the land.
La Belle Esplanade / New Orleans, LouisianaThe bed
The five suites at La Belle Esplanade match the inn’s eclectic façade -- each is painted a different color, and furnished to reflect the building’s 1883 roots with clawfoot tubs, marble top tables, and artwork all over the place (they trust you).
La Belle Esplanade doesn’t have a license to cook. “How the hell is it a B&B?” you ask. Well don’t panic; they turn to local markets, pastry shops, and neighborhood artisans to churn out the chow. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’ll have been picked/baked/created that morning. Favorites include Italian Creole sausages that come from a shop that’s been making them for nearly a century, and buttermilk drops, a local specialty. They’ve even got a jelly lady.
Foley House Inn / Savannah, GeorgiaThe bed
Full disclosure: during renovations in 1987, skeletal remains were found behind a wall at the Foley House Inn -- supposedly belonging to a guest from the late 1800s. People now claim to see a man in a top hat walking around the garden, so… you decide. The rooms are all different, but most have a four-poster bed, which somehow makes you feel super important upon waking up. Go big and opt for the 204 Stafford room; it has a private balcony, oversized Jacuzzi tubs, and a working fireplace.
If the undead don’t make you lose your appetite, cooked-to-order breakfast is served in the dining room, courtyard, or your room. You may get something like grits with goat cheese and chives or buttermilk peach pecan pancakes. The inn serves high tea with treats like homemade cheesecakes and almond Florentines, plus evening happy hour with wine and snacks like Parmesan broccoli balls. They’re all about that Southern hospitality, and all about you getting your vegetables.
A Butler’s Manor / Southampton, New YorkThe bed
The five rooms in this 1860 Colonial-style guesthouse seem like they’d come with their own butler. Innkeepers Kim and Chris will make you feel like you have one, with their expert area itineraries, freshly brewed coffee and tea assortment placed outside your door each morning, and free rides to the beach during the summer.
The above will make perfect sense when you learn Chris was a butler in Britain for more than two decades. Personalized service is his bread and butter, while Kim’s bread and butter is... well... bread and butter. She prepares breakfast, starting with a fruit course alongside homemade bread, muffins, or scones, followed by entrées like zucchini-cheddar blintzes and banana-stuffed French toast. To stop feeling like you’ve been banana-stuffed, take a few laps around the English garden or saltwater pool.
No matter where you spend the night, bring your music with you with the Bose Soundlink Mini II.
Captain Lord Mansion / Kennebunk, MaineThe bed
The rooms can only be described as majestic, and make one of Maine’s several slogans, “worth a visit, worth a lifetime,” more legit. Many have jetted tubs and fireplaces, and all have heated floors in the bathroom since no one likes getting out of the shower and putting their feet on cold tile. Stay 10 times, and you’ll find your very own engraved stone in the walkway on one of the inn’s paths. Immortality beats a pillow mint every time.
Wake up to a family-style, multi-course breakfast. Some Maine blueberries or maple syrup are probably involved, though the menu changes daily. The family-style breakfast encourages guests to eat together and actually socialize -- like the true B&B experience of bygone days. In the afternoon, you can continue to stuff your face with cheese, crackers, fresh fruit, and sweets accompanied by seasonal beverages like iced tea in the summer and Swedish Glogg in the winter.
Holualoa Inn / Holualoa, HawaiiThe bed
Located on the Big Island, Holualoa Inn sits at the base of Mount Hualalai and is surrounded by hiking trails, gardens, and ocean views (cue amazing sunsets) from basically anywhere on the property, including the pool, hot tub, and rooftop gazebo. Rooms capture the island’s Polynesian vibes with lots of hardwoods and colorful patterns.
The inn is surrounded by more than 5,000 coffee trees, from which they brew their own Kona. Beyond the superb cup o’ Joe, breakfast also includes good stuff from the garden, namely fruits you’ve seen on grocery store shelves but rarely in the wild, like banana, avocado, figs, papaya, pineapple, and lilikoi. (Okay maybe you haven’t seen that last one in grocery stores.) Of particular note: Chef Crystal Butori trained for a hot minute with James Beard of The James Beard Awards fame.
Cass House Cayucos / Cayucos, CaliforniaThe bed
You’re welcomed the proper way at Cass House Cayucos -- with a glass of regional wine. There are only five rooms here, some with fireplaces, some with verandas overlooking the garden, ocean, or Cass House Water Tower. All of them have a more modern feel, kind of like what you’d imagine a so-cool-you-want-to-dislike-them-but-can’t California winemaker’s house to look like.
A brand spanking new onsite bakery opens here in June, meaning you never have to worry about croissant cravings or popover poverty. A swanky new grill will open alongside the bakery soon, with a focus on food from California’s Central Coast.
Inn on Lake Granbury / Granbury, TexasThe bed
The adults-only Inn on Lake Granbury ensures you’ll actually be able to sleep soundly -- no pitter-patter of little feet or infant screams from next door. Rooms have a bunch of things you wish you had in your room at home, like heated bathroom floors, steam showers, showers with body jets, and stone fireplaces. There are also two guesthouses for larger group vacays.
The inn’s chef, Wolfgang Weichert, has 1) a great chef name, and 2) served on the chef catering team for Presidents G.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama. Go for the upside down banana walnut French toast, or green chile cheese grits. Every breakfast includes an egg dish, bacon or sausage, fresh fruit with yogurt, and coffee and juice, so you may even be able to skip lunch and head straight for the inn’s late afternoon appetizers and wine.
Los Poblanos / Albuquerque, New MexicoThe bed
Set on a working farm surrounded by lavender fields, the 20 rooms at Los Poblanos go way beyond the whole rustic farm chic aesthetic embraced by other agritourism properties. Rooms are spread among the hacienda and 1930s dairy-style buildings, and have a modern-meets-Southwest feel, with wood-burning fireplaces, hardwood floors, throw blankets, and pillows. When you’re not hunkering down in the cozy as hell rooms, take out the cruiser bikes to Instagram the roaming peacocks.
Breakfast here is super Southwestern, like a breakfast tostada in green chile, blue corn polenta, and the Los Poblanos Shakshouka with a spiced tomato stew, blue corn bread, and farm eggs poached to perfection.
Villa D’ Citta / Chicago, IllinoisThe bed
Villa D’ Citta is smack dab in the midst of Chicago’s Lincoln Park area, but you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the hills of Tuscany. It’s has a super Italian vibe, plus an outdoor patio with Jacuzzi, private grotto, and sun deck. It basically makes you feel like Italian royalty (do Italians still have that?). That’s especially true if you reserve Capone’s Cantina, a space available for private events, including for use as a theater.
Italian bread from the local -- naturally -- Italian bakery is a breakfast staple, along with a rotating list of hot dishes, like homemade vegetarian pizza baked in the stone oven. Weekends come with a two-course breakfast. Amazingly, if you don’t pack in enough before 10am, the kitchen is yours for the raiding. The fridge has Italian meats perfect for paninis, so have at it.
The Reynolds Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn/ Asheville, North CarolinaThe bed
Though it was originally built in 1847, the Reynolds Mansion’s 16-foot-high ceilings, along with the carriage house rooms located across a courtyard, give it a Colonial vibe. Because generations of Reynolds lived and died in this house, it’s suspected that it’s just a little bit haunted. The fact that lights turn on and off without the assistance of a human doesn’t help. Ok yep, it’s haunted.
The three-course morning meal usually starts with juice, homemade buttermilk biscuits or muffins, and a fruit dish. This is followed up by something hot and southern. Afternoon snacks like cookies along with coffee, tea, and hot cocoa are always available to fortify you for the ghost hunting that you’ll consciously or subconsciously be doing.
Willows Inn / WashingtonThe bed
On an island that’s about three miles around, the Willows Inn is basically the only option for accommodations on Lummi Island. Luckily, it’s awesome. Beyond its eight rooms, the inn also has several rooms scattered within walking distance of the main property, including a beach house, a cabin, and a loft that are all decorated like something out of a Pacific Northwest architecture magazine.
The inn is known for its really, really, really incredible restaurant (the chef is a Noma alumni) and having accommodations at the inn makes it 1) Easier to get dinner reservations and 2) Easier to pass out in an appropriate place during your blissful food coma. Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate in case you need to rush back to the mainland on the teeny tiny ferry crazy early. But if you stick around for it, it’ll probably include something like a soft-boiled duck egg, flaky biscuits, homemade jelly, and fresh juices.
Twin Farms / Barnard, VermontThe bed
Vermont is the state for B&Bs and though it technically bills itself as all-inclusive, Twin Farms captures the quintessential B&B vibe with fireplaces in every room and way cute décor. Stays even come with a handmade wooden jigsaw puzzle to take home! Yes! The inn sits on 300 acres, so chances are you’ll see more wildlife than people. Try not to dwell on the fact that the original owners purchased a farmhouse and all this land for $10,000 in 1928.
Because this is an all-inclusive, start prepping your stomach months ahead for three meals a day to really get your money’s worth. Breakfast jams are made from berries picked out front and the lemon soufflé pancakes are legendary. Lunch and dinner are set menus, though they’ll pack a picnic basket for you to take lunch on the road.
A.G. Thomson House / Duluth, MinnesotaThe bed
If you like outdoorsy things like rowing, hiking, or Nordic skiing, Duluth is a highly underrated place to vacation; even if you don’t, the A.G. Thomson House is worth the trip. Located a short distance from Lake Superior, the inn has four rooms in the main house and three in the carriage house, several with lake views and all with fireplaces and quilts that make you feel like you’re being tucked into a bed full of love and hugs. But the real reason to visit is to get notes on how to have a successful relationship, courtesy of high school sweethearts and innkeepers Tim and Angie.
Angie prepares the homemade, multi-course, candlelit breakfast, with options like honey lavender baked peaches or roasted herb potato wedges in white truffle oil. Caffeinate with locally roasted coffee blends you’ll only find here, do some of those aforementioned outdoorsy things, and then kick back on the veranda, sunroom, or hammock.
Cocoa Cottage Bed and Breakfast / Whitehall, MichiganThe bed
Everything is named after famous chocolate makers -- hence the name, Cocoa Cottage -- at this restored Arts and Crafts bungalow near Lake Michigan. Rooms include chocolate made by innkeeper Lisa, who also gives a crash course in making your own, plus a tasting.
Chocolate makes an appearance at breakfast, too, straight up and in baked goods like zucchini-chocolate bread. But you can also go for seasonal dishes cooked by Lisa’s husband Larry. One day you may be eating an asparagus ricotta tart and the next lemon ricotta pancakes. Larry’s Cottage Eggs are apparently the dish you absolutely hope he makes. Cross your fingers.
Maple Hill Manor / Springfield, KentuckyThe bed
Located on a historic alpaca/llama farm not too far off the Bourbon Trail, Maple Hill Manor is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Kentucky Landmark Home. That’s a bureaucratic way of saying these rooms will make you feel like you’re in a period piece. Mildly creepy, but oh-so-soft teddy bears made from alpaca fibers in each room reflect its continued use as a working farm.
Grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and herbs are grown onsite for use during breakfast alongside dishes like cheesy hash brown casserole. Plus, you can pick apples, pears, and plums in season from the fruit orchard and the two resident golden retrievers will accompany you. Name something idyllic and this place probably has it covered.