All across America, there are places giving new meaning to the phrase "Bed & Breakfast." Places where the proprietors go above and beyond what's expected. Places where the conversation and interaction among guests is easy and animated. Places where the hosts spare no ends to make guest feel right at home. Places with extras such as rooms where guests can gather to talk or read. Places of stunning natural beauty. Then...there are places with all of these attributes!
Here are my choices for the Top 5 B&B's in America...
#5 - THE INN AT MEANDER PLANTATION, LOCUST DALE, VIRGINIA - The Inn at Meander Plantation is a beautiful historic country inn, in the best tradition of the Old South...and dating back to 1766. Here, you'll relax in luxurious accommodations surrounded by 80 acres of greenery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Inn is a B&B, but it offers gourmet dinners, as well - four-course, Southern-influenced dinners - to guests who don't want to leave the grounds for dinner. It sits on a hill with spectacular mountain views and breathtaking sunsets. The ten charming guest rooms and cottages are luxuriously furnished. It's a short drive to Monticello and Montpelier - the homes of presidents Jefferson and Madison, respectively. And several award-winning wineries and distilleries are just down the road.
#4 - HILLSIDE INN, EPHRAIM, WISCONSIN - The building housing Hillside Inn has been around for a while - since 1890, to be exact. And because of its age, and its beauty, it's earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Hillside Inn is a boutique Bed & Breakfast with five luxury suites, each of which has concierge service, and private decks overlooking the crystal-clear waters and abundant wildlife of Eagle Harbor. Each room has a fireplace, a luxurious bed, an oversized bathroom with massaging shower heads, and Turkish terrycloth robes. The inn is open all year long, which means there are all kinds of winter sports opportunities here, and outfitters to provide the equipment. And the quaint town of Ephraim - population 288 - is a classic American country village, in an area with excellent art galleries, innovative breweries and wineries, horse-drawn carriage rides, artisanal cheese-makers, and beautifully-restored historic buildings.
#3 - THE FAN HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST, BARNARD, VERMONT - The Fan House Bed and Breakfast offers three luxurious, European-style rooms and suites. This is a place to relax. To enjoy the fireplace. Or to schedule a massage treatment in the privacy of your own room. Barnard is a colorful, quaint New England village, close to other scenic towns like Woodstock and Quechee, and the great skiing at Killington. The breakfasts here consist of only fresh and locally-sourced produce. And there are great stories surrounding the inn. For example, were those bricks discovered in the attic really used to repel Indian arrows? Is the Fan House really a replica of a building up the road where author Sinclair Lewis lived? One story is surely factual, though...your experience here will be a wonderful one!
#2 - HONOR MANSION, HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA - Honor Mansion is an historic B&B in one of America's most tranquil settings - the Sonoma Wine Country of California. It's an intimate, spacious property, with 13 unique, luxurious rooms and modern cottages spread over a four-acre property. After a day of exploring Healdsburg wineries such as Matrix, Wilson, Soda Rock, and Pezzi King, you can relax with an early-evening wine-and-appetizers spread. Healdsburg is convenient to beautiful spots like the town of Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay, and the Redwoods at Armstrong Woods. Honor Mansion is a great to just unwind and let yourself relax and refresh. But that doesn't mean you can't get a good workout if you want one; there's a lap pool, putting green, and tennis. And there's even a spa where you can work out the post-activity kinks.
And now, for my choice of the No. 1 Bed & Breakfast in America...
#1 - SILVER LAKE LODGE, IDAHO SPRINGS, COLORADO - It's a 9.5-mile drive up a winding country road with spectacular vistas to reach Silver Lake Lodge. When you get there, you'll be staying at one of the highest B&B's in North America - 10,500 feet. And you'll actually be looking out - even in summer - toward a glacier! Twenty years ago, owner Jim Schaitel took a Victorian lodge and converted it into one of the most authentically-Western B&B's in America. The breakfasts at Silver Lake Lodge are probably without equal. For dinner, you can always go down the mountain to the scenic town of Idaho Springs, which looks much as it did in the late-1800's. But you probably won't want to...because (for a fee) you can also get a four-course, gourmet dinner in the candlelit ambience of the dining room, where you can enjoy interesting conversation with other guests that often tends to continue long after dinner is over. And Jim is always in the kitchen at mealtime, overseeing the preparation of the superb food served here. The rooms feature real Western furniture and design accents of the highest quality, a lot of wood elements, and very comfortable beds of cut, polished timber. If you tend to get hungry in the late-afternoon, wine and cheese and light snacks are served at 5 p.m. There's an expansive TV room, a beautiful sitting room with books where guests gather for conversation, and a pre-meal gathering room with stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains, deep forest, and that glacier beyond a ridge. When you step outside to the huge, elevated back porch of wood, with its comfortable chairs...you can see forever. And that may be how long you want to stay here!
Well, these are our choices for the Top 5 B&Bs in America. We'd like to hear your opinions, too! Do you have any favorites?