By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
A comfy and cozy B&B is different to a hotel, even a small hotel, in several ways. A licensed B&B is a private home with guest rooms, providing a real sense of place for travelers. B&B guests value authentic experiences, but they're looking for even more. According to BedandBreakfast.com, guests want: Private bathrooms (91 percent), free on-site parking (71 percent), free breakfast (60 percent), flexible check-in (57 percent), free cable or satellite TV and Wi-Fi (38 percent). This Mother's Day, a handful of places are among America's B&Bs fit for a queen...here's why.
1139 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
California wine country - no list of dream getaways is complete without it. And there's something about meticulously restored Victorian houses that is the very essence of a lovely B&B. One look at the pretty wrap-around porch where guests enjoy evening wine and cheese with owner-hosts Brent and Chris, and you're sold. Mom will be, too. In historic Calistoga, the heart of Napa Valley, five elegantly and comfortably appointed guest rooms are all different but share a touch of sophisticated flair. Each has a large private marble bath (plush towels and robes) and a gas fireplace; the ground floor rooms have a garden outlook as well. Guests begin their day with a four-course sit down breakfast and close it with "a small piece of heaven," a treat of locally made Woodhouse Chocolate. In between, of course, there's a full day of top notch wine tasting in charming towns and in wineries set among the rolling hills of vines that are stunning in every season. Brent and Chris say, "You arrive as guests and leave as friends."
The Mary Prentiss Inn
6 Prentiss Street
An American flag flutters above the entrance to this classic Greek Revival property tucked away on a quiet street near Harvard Square. A bowl of apples says welcome; Lisa and Lindsey are expecting you. Twenty period-styled guest rooms, some with original features and floors, are up the elegant cantilevered staircase in the main house. Newly constructed rooms with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces encircle the rear garden. All rooms have private showers and tubs. The house was an architect's wedding gift to his son, William, upon his marriage to Mary Prentiss in 1843. Every morning, tables are set with tablecloths and blooms of posies where guests can relax with a complimentary newspaper while placing requests for made-to-order breakfast. In the afternoon, homemade cookies are served with tea. Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America, the current owners undertook detailed research and a loving restoration to integrate modern amenities right down to the free Wi-Fi. Coveted free parking is truly a bonus and the MTA Red Line in Porter Square is a six-minute walk.
The Mermaid & The Alligator
729 Truman Ave.
Key West, FL 33040
Exposed portions of an ancient coral reef, the Florida Keys are unique and special...much like mom. Everybody should go to Key West as often as possible. Fly into Key West International Airport or drive 127 miles from Key Largo to the keys' southernmost tip for one of America's great road trips. A pedestrian paradise measuring only four miles by one mile, Key West's laid back atmosphere is a perfect match for a take-it-easy B&B break. At The Mermaid & The Alligator with its 1904 pedigree, mom can wake up in a four poster bed and enjoy a full breakfast (the vegetarian option is an impressive spread that's won an award) served poolside beside Royal Poinciana trees. Afterwards, she'll read a book on a hammock strung up on the porch as it swings gently to the rustle of the palms. Nine luxuriously appointed guest rooms with private bath or shower room are all different; six in the main house and three cottages on the garden. The only problem? Leaving this sublime oasis to explore more of Historic Key West and the Florida Keys. P.S. Be sure to tell mom not to miss The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square and the Key Lime pie.
Blair House Inn Bed and Breakfast
100 W. Spoke Hill Drive
From Key Lime pie to Grasshopper pie...did someone say gourmet cooking school? We all understand that mothers deserve a break from kitchen duty, but chef's culinary classes around Southern cuisine are an entirely different matter. Some of the 11 spacious country-inspired suites, guest rooms and cottages are furnished with four poster beds and living room fireplaces. All have en-suite bath or shower, some with a whirlpool. Enjoy a private deck or patio, too. Add 22 acres of panoramic views, peace and quiet, a library, splendid outdoor pool plus a spa and it makes a vacation fit for a queen. Many say this is the prettiest spot in the heart of Texas Hill Country, an hour from Austin in the direction of San Antonio. Where Cypress Creek meets the Blanco River, think towering cypress trees and spring wildflowers. Blair House Inn is near wineries, a glass studio and art galleries, including one at the inn. Fans of Wimberley come for bustling Market Days every Saturday (March through December); a dip in Blue Hole, one of the best swimming holes in Texas; for watching birds and butterflies; and for the summertime weekend movie screenings under the stars.
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