By staying at the Edward Harris House Bed and Breakfast in Rochester, N.Y., I was going outside my comfort zone. How far outside? Try from one side of the English Channel to the other. All right, I exaggerate. A little.
When I’m looking for overnight accommodations, I’m drawn to bed-and-breakfasts. When I’m looking for bed-and-breakfasts, I’m drawn to anything British.
But then I came across the circa 1896 Edward Harris House and its sweet-looking Madelyn room, described online as a “light and airy French-inspired room.” I fell a little in love with it — the fireplace, the wrought-iron bed (French, of course).
After a quick mental apology to Queen E., I had no reservations about making a two-night reservation.
Meeting the dreadlocked, bubbly innkeeper, Heather Ingianni, I had a feeling that we’d have plenty to chat about over the next few days. But first it was time to get acquainted with Madelyn.
Ah, mon cheri, she was beautiful.
The centerpiece, of course, was that gorgeous bed. Just as swoon-worthy: the original French doors across from the foot of the bed. I could imagine them opening onto my own little Parisian terrace. Instead, they led to the bathroom. A girl can dream, right?
But a lovely bathroom it was, equipped with all the niceties that make being on the road feel a little more like home, if not better. I discovered Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, a towel warmer (which I tried and failed to get to work, though the effort was a bit half-hearted), a jar with Q-Tips and cotton swabs, a black makeup cloth and a full-size bottle of banana-vanilla lotion that I didn’t hesitate to use in large quantities.
Via a bench and a framed photo, the bathroom carried on the Eiffel Tower theme I’d first noticed in the bedroom. I spotted the landmark on the wastebasket and in tiny reproductions in the fireplace. It was more subtle than it sounds — quite charming, really — and trying to spot all the depictions became a bit of a game.
The rest of the decor felt just as French and chic, with the television stacked on vintage luggage and a jar of daisies on the windowsill.
The interior was undeniably enchanting, but hunger pangs and the lovely Upstate New York weather lured me outdoors to explore the surrounding leafy, restaurant-laden Park Avenue neighborhood. After I finished dinner at a ramen joint just a few blocks away, I walked around admiring all the other late 19th- and early 20th-century mansions, many of which have been converted into apartments or condos. (Edward Harris House owners Susan and Manny Alvarez restored the house and used it as their private residence until 2000.)
I spent a while going street by street before returning to the B&B, which welcomed me back with soft music and a jar of chocolate chip cookies in the elegant periwinkle-walled living room.
Further culinary delights greeted me the next morning, as Ingianni whipped up quite possibly the most gorgeous omelet I’ve ever eaten, fluffy and folded more skillfully than I’ve ever managed. The next morning, she brought out a baked French toast that she said she was making for the first time. She likes to experiment when there aren’t too many guests — I may have been the only one — and I was happy to be her guinea pig.
We chatted about all kinds of things in between courses and her kitchen duties. She told me about the chickens she was raising, and I told her about all my sightseeing plans in Rochester. She endorsed the top item on my agenda, the George Eastman House, the nearby lavish estate built by the Kodak founder.
Reluctant to leave after being made to feel so comfortable and spoiled, I didn’t want to say goodbye. Somehow, au revoir was a little bit easier.
Edward Harris House Bed and Breakfast
35 Argyle St.
Rooms from $169.