Two Inns, One Weekend -- at the Very Minimum
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
"Find us a place to get away for the weekend," my husband urged me recently, after a particularly brow-sweaty week. I did the job one better: I found us two. Double the scenery, twice the fun, I reckoned.
But it wasn't easy. If you've ever tried to book a room at a country inn for just one night on a weekend, you know what I'm talking about. The two-night-minimum bugaboo. But with a little Googling here and a little word of mouth there, up popped Stone Crest Manor Bed and Breakfast in York, Pa., and Slade's Inn in Monkton, Md., both of which allow single overnights on weekends.
The two towns have little in common other than their proximity. They're 33 miles apart, straddling the Mason-Dixon line. York touts itself as the "Factory Tour Capital of the World" (potato chips, pretzels, chocolate) and as a mecca for bikers on a pilgrimage to the Harley-Davidson plant. Both city and county, York has rolling hills and a downtown scene. By contrast, Monkton is a hamlet of about 5,000 people, without even a Web site to recommend it. The picturesque countryside lets its genteel horse farms, historic steeplechases and comely estates speak for themselves.
Perfect choices, in other words, for people who want to enjoy two distinct getaways in one weekend.
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Stone Crest Manor was our first destination. A 90-minute drive from my Chevy Chase home and less than three miles off Interstate 83, the B&B resides in a neighborhood of green pastures and scattered houses, without a hint of traffic noise. The stone manor commands the top of a wooded hill, its sweeping front lawn descending to a pond. Seven minutes away is downtown York, with shops, bars, restaurants and small museums. But here in the countryside, it's 24-7 tranquility.
Innkeeper George Simpson, a blue-eyed man with a bouncer's physique, spiked white hair and the air of someone on a mission, welcomed us into the three-level, skylit atrium, the sounds of jazz piano blaring from the inn's state-of-the-art sound system. Despite its high-society name, Stone Crest Manor is more B&B-meets-wired-clubhouse. Corporate retreats and wedding receptions are big business, and the inn's amenities include a 24-hour business center, billiard room, six-person whirlpool, fitness center and massages. Simpson opened the inn in March 2007 and hopes to host motivational workshops there.
But he also wants his B&B to be comfortable. The four guest rooms are decorated traditionally with four-poster beds and shades of burgundy and cream; our suite had two balconies overlooking a long stretch of lawn. Common rooms feature colorful French advertising posters, framed photos of Judy Garland and other Hollywood stars, and lots of greenery, and a disco ball hangs at one end of the atrium.
Outside, I noticed four bikes leaning against the side of the house. "We rent the bikes, take you down to the Heritage Rail Trail and pick you up when you're finished riding," Simpson said. Then he sent us off for dinner at "York's best restaurant."
The Left Bank in downtown York was jumping. A young crowd was smoking ferociously in the bar, while couples and business colleagues dined well in the dark-wood dining room. I dared to order soft-shell crabs outside the Delmarva Peninsula. Verdict: quite good. Jim's lamb chops, easily enough to feed two, were cooked to juicy, pink perfection.
After dinner we drove past York's real action on a Friday night: the Hardware Bar. Hundreds of bikers and their motorcycles clustered on the sidewalk in front of the bar.
"Motorcycles are huge here," Simpson confirmed for us the next morning at breakfast, reminding us that the Harley-Davidson factory is a big draw.