The roses were everywhere in my room at the Morris Harvey House, but I couldn’t smell a one of ’em.
They were embroidered into the bedspread. Adorning the handles of the built-in bureau. Blooming on either side of the fireplace mantel in a pair of wall-mounted sculptures. Just to name a few.
The effect, though, was more feminine than frilly. Even my besneakered self could appreciate it.
Located in Fayetteville, a blink-of-an-eye town in south-central West Virginia, the Morris Harvey House is a well-curated mix of tradition and modernity. Tradition: the old-fashioned toilet you flush by pulling a chain that hangs from a wooden box about six feet off the ground. Modernity: the motion-activated lights that flip on as you approach the bathroom housing said toilet.
My room boasted a few other conveniences that I wish you could find in more bed-and-breakfasts. They included several easily accessible electrical outlets (crucial as my phone wheezed into the evening searching for a 3G signal) and a plug-in flashlight that switches on as soon as you pull it out of the socket. When a real clapper of a thunderstorm blew through overnight, it was comforting to know exactly where the gadget was.
There’s certainly no forgetting the 1902 home’s old bones, though. Stunning Italian marble surrounds the seven fireplaces, as innkeeper Bernie J. Kania Jr. pointed out during a quick tour upon my arrival. Pictures of the original owners hang in the living room, and colorful stained-glass windows provide another classic touch.
In a nod to its name, my room, the Library, contained a generous collection of books and magazines — Tom Clancy, Ken Follett, stacks of National Geographics. What it didn’t have was its own bathroom, not surprising considering the building’s age. In exchange for the cheapest of the five rooms, though, I didn’t mind sharing the bathroom down the hall with a young couple on a cross-country road trip.
I learned a little more about their plans over breakfast, as we and the other couple who’d spent the night chatted over pineapple upside-down French toast, yogurt parfait and scrambled eggs. While tasty, the meal was admirably restrained compared with the gut-busting multi-course breakfasts I consume more often than I should at B&Bs. I especially appreciated that because I was scheduled to take a stomach-churning tour along a catwalk on the New River Gorge Bridge in a couple of hours.
As I drove away en route to the bridge, my eyes lighted on a sign that had made me smile the night before. With a gentle reminder to buckle up, it said: “We want you back!”
I believed it.