Bed & Breakfasting in Maine
By : Donald Rodrigue
For visitors to Maine, there's no finer introduction to the state's unique personality than by staying in a bed-and-breakfast inn. Maine boasts hundreds of such lodging establishments, ranging from very simple inns with only a couple of rooms to grand homes divided into a wide variety of accommodations.
But why choose a B&B, you say, when a nice hotel is available? One reason is intimacy. A B&B offers an Old World style of lodging that enables visitors to delve deeper into a community, rather than just skim the surface. Since most B&Bs are family run, guests actually get to know the locals, usually on a first-name basis.
The elegant surroundings are another draw, since many are actually historical homes furnished with antiques and other personal touches. And the last reason is the breakfast—and we're not talking Continental, either. For most B&B owners, this is their moment of peak creativity, and you can expect exotic creations to say the least.
Come along as I take you on an armchair—or rather passenger seat—tour of just a few of Maine's exquisite B&Bs.
Abigail's Inn, Camden
With just four guest rooms, Abigail's offers a truly intimate experience, one in which travelers can easily get to know their fellow guests and the owners, Kipp Wright and Elizabeth O'Connor. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Abigail's was built in 1847 and has been welcoming guests since the fall of 1990. The honey-colored wood floors and original crown molding, brightly printed wallpaper, comfortable armchairs and antique four-poster beds all contribute to the simple charm of the place, and the cozy front porch is perfect for wiling away the hours.
After browsing through Camden's myriad shops and art galleries—just a short walk away—you can prop your feet up in front of a roaring fire and nibble on homemade brownies. If you're lucky, you may even get to dine on the couple's exquisite breakfast creation of French toast stuffed with bananas, strawberries and raspberries. Like me, you'll probably have to tear yourself away from this place.
Berry Manor Inn, Rockland
Located within a few blocks of the Rockland business district, the AAA four-diamond Berry Manor Inn is perhaps one of Maine's most delightful B&Bs. Built between 1898-99 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this grand old home underwent 90 hectic days of restoration and renovations before owners Michael F. Laposta Jr. and Cheryl L. Michaelsen opened for business in 1999. They finished remodeling the Carriage House in 2003, giving them a total of 12 guest rooms, all exuding the charm of a turn-of-the-century New England manor.
Not only is breakfast an event here—fresh fruit, banana-coconut-almond cake, blueberry-stuffed French toast and sausage—but the hosts' mothers compete to see who can make the best pies for the inn guests.
Laposta even ensured that travelers who normally prefer more privacy would love this inn by insisting that each room have a private bath, telephone and individual cable TV connection. In addition, Berry Manor Inn guests dine on small tables so they don't feel obligated to socialize with strangers. The inn's free wireless Internet service offers a popular, modern-day touch.
You may just find that the pampering in this plum-colored home turns you into a permanent B&B fan: I mean, who wouldn't want to return to their quarters greeted by the gentle sounds of classical musical and a saucer of Hershey's Kisses on the bed?
The Camden Windward House
Constructed by a local shipbuilder and lumberman in 1854, this Victorian-era home has been welcoming guests to the village of Camden since 1924. Completely restored to its former glory and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Camden Windward House has been run since June 2003 by innkeepers Phil and Lee Brookes. The eight guest rooms each have their own unique décor and color scheme, all featuring cable TV and a VCR, private bathrooms and "allergy free" feather beds for an exquisite night's sleep. Five are suites boasting separate sitting areas, and five have working fireplaces. And here you won't find just any chocolates on your bed when you return from a day of sightseeing—the Windward spoils its guests with Lindt Lindor truffles. The next morning, you'll be treated to a variety of elegant, cooked-to-order breakfast dishes. The Camden Windward House is conveniently located just a five-minute walk from historic Camden.
Inn Britannia, Searsport
Though it's true that guests come here to spend the night, I suspect that many come just to admire the immaculate English chintz place settings and feast on the lavish breakfast creations whipped up by innkeepers Caren Lorelle and Susan Pluff.
In fact, the readers of Arrington's Inn Traveler say the B&B had the Best Breakfast of any New England B&B in 2005. And it's no wonder, with such incredible palate pleasers as Cornish Baked Eggs, deep-dish Apple Baked Pancakes, Devon Cream Cheese Pie and Kensington Palace scones.
The Inn Britannia's extensive collection of antiques, Tiffany lamps and English teapots probably convinced the magazine's readers to vote it ninth of the nation's 15 Most Elegant B&Bs in 2004.
Here you can choose from eight comfortable rooms, each with its own distinct personality. The largest of these is the Windsor: a two-room suite perfect for honeymooners, featuring a freestanding gas fireplace, wet bar, large bay window and a huge bathroom with both a shower and a claw-foot tub.
James Place Inn, Freeport
Located on a quiet side street just a short walk from the famed Freeport outlet shops, this cozy, two-story B&B exudes an authentic country air. Each of its seven unique guest rooms features a private bath, cable TV and a queen-sized bed. Some rooms even have a Jacuzzi, and one has its own wood-burning fireplace. The knotty pine floors and braided scatter rugs all add to the warm ambience, and the light and airy breakfast room encourages guests to linger and socialize. Breakfast is a lavish affair, featuring such treats as Belgian waffles with strawberries, fresh fruit salad, crabmeat quiche and homemade granola.
Book your trip today! Visit www.aa.com, call American/American Eagle reservations at 1-800-433-7300, or call your travel agent for more information.