Thursday, August 28, 2008

George Washington (Munkee) slept here...

On the honeymoon, we made it a practice to stay in bed & breakfasts as we traveled.

Today's honeymoon highlight reel involves "oh, the places you'll stay" - in case you're headed to the Pacific Northwest anytime soon and looking for a spot to rest your head and maybe get a good meal, too.

Portland's White House
Portland's White House is a historic mansion, which earned its name because it looks an awful lot like the White House... (you know, where Barack Obama is going to live...)

Owned by the elegant and personable Lanning Blanks, the inn features wonderfully decorated rooms (even if we stayed in the smallest one!) with a mix of traditional furnishings and modern amenities.

But the highlight is undoubtedly the breakfasts: We're talking gourmet meals here, complete with a full staff, amazingly fresh fruit, hot coffee and fresh juice. From berry pancakes that went so far beyond the norm to the tofu in miso gravy made especially to suit Marisa's vegan needs, every morning serving was more than a meal - it was an experience!

And one of the definite highlights of the trip was sharing a glass of champagne with Mr. Blanks - and his cute little white Scotty dog, Prescott - to celebrate our honeymoon!

Place We Didn't Stay No. 1:

The Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, best known as the location for the outdoor shots in Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining."

Greenlake Guest House
Located on Seattle's lovely Green Lake, Greenlake Guest House was a stark contrast to the White House, but equally delightful.

This B&B is a small, homey Craftsman house, remodeled by the McAfertys, a couple who are epitomize the word "friendly."

The rooms are highlighted by TV/DVD players - there's a collection of Oscar-winning films available to borrow - and delightful whirlpool bathtubs. Breakfast is a simple, tasty affair, cooked by Julie McAferty, and the couple spends plenty of time socializing with guests during and after the meal.

Watch for an appearance by Emma, an adorable beagle.

Place We Didn't Stay No. 2:

The Kennedy School in Portland, a converted school (duh!), which M - a teacher - found adorable, but I found thoroughly creepy and disconcerting, possibly because I'd just seen "Silent Hill," part of which takes place in an eerie abandoned school.

And possibly because, well, let's face it: old schools with old pictures on the wall are just plain creepy, no matter how touristy.

Buffalo Run Inn
We spent only one night at the Buffalo Run Inn, so about the only things I can share about this former roadhouse at the edge of North Cascades National Park are:

• Large, apartment-style rooms with a demi-kitchen.
• Meals at the restaurant across the street (highway!) were tasty.
• The rooms' animal themes range from cute (quilt) to disconcerting (fake bear head).

Alma Beach Manor
As the Alma Beach B&B wound up being closed for the season, the owners put us up instead at the Alma Beach Manor, in Vancouver's awesome Kitsilano neighborhood.

No breakfasts, though we enjoyed a tasty vegan/vegetarian meal at the 24-hour Naam restaurant just a stone's throw away.

The Manor was a nice change, since it's designed like a short-term apartment - loved that sectional! - complete with full kitchen, bathroom and a giant, window-filled living room. The bedroom was small, but functional, and the mirrored closet sliders reminded me of my old house in Hillsborough.

The location was the best asset, though, as we spent not one, but two nights walking the neighborhood full of shops, beaches and restaurants. It's an asset the nearby Alma Beach B&B undoubtedly shares.

Birds of a Feather B&B
Birds of a Feather was our final B&B of the journey, on a pretty lagoon outside Victoria. Owners Dieter Gerhard and Annette Moen are obvious nature lovers, and have the perfect site for their inn. Kayaks (zoinks!) and canoes are available to cruise the lagoon, and there's a Zodiac boat Gerhard will take you out in on a charter basis.

The room was huge and delightful, and every one of the three rooms has access to an outdoor patio of some kind. We only had one breakfast due to our travel schedule, but it was a tasty one.

An interesting contrast is how each place handles "customer service." The White House was like a hotel, the Guest House like part of the family, and at Birds of a Feather, the emphasis is on your privacy - probably appropriate since two of the three guest groups were honeymooning couples - and there is something marvelously quiet and serene about the place.

The canine residents were a pair of basset hounds, Emily and Montgomery.

Fairfield Inn Seattle Sea-Tac Airport
Okay, the last night of the trip was at a typical Fairfield Inn, an airport hotel that was crowded, noisy and offered a pedestrian, if complementary, continental breakfast.

But for a few bucks extra, we got a Jacuzzi room, for one last little relaxing highlight to end the trip.

In short, even though M was a little nervous because she'd never stayed in a bed & breakfast before, we both found the experience delightful, reasonably cost-effective, and the combination of the inns' unique qualities and the innkeepers' pleasant personalities ensured our honeymoon lodgings were far more memorable than even the most upscale hotel chain.