Going Our Way: Searching for a romantic B&B getaway

The Bavarian Inn's elegant alpine chalets overlook the Potomac in otherwise-rustic Shepherdstown, W.Va.
The Bavarian Inn's elegant alpine chalets overlook the Potomac in otherwise-rustic Shepherdstown, W.Va. (Bavarian Inn)
By K.C. Summers
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who: Susan Day, 51, and T.E. Lyons, 51, of Falls Church.

Where: A romantic B&B in the mid-Atlantic.

Why: To celebrate work projects completed and surviving a painfully expensive heat pump replacement.

When: A long weekend in mid-March.

Budget: $500.

"We're trying to get the most enjoyment we can without spending money that makes us feel guilty."

Let us now praise B&Bs. At least the ones without teddy bears and doilies. Mercifully, the mid-Atlantic has many sophisticated inns, with fine dining, stylish decor and nary a ruffle in sight. For lots of travelers, a good B&B is a destination in itself.

So it is for Susan Day and T.E. Lyons, who find themselves craving a long weekend in a romantic inn after a winter consumed with work and home repairs. But not just any old romantic inn. They want a water view, proximity to hiking trails and art museums, the option of spa services and, oh yes, a ghost or two would be nice.

We consulted several experts, including Mary White of BnBFinder.com (http://www.bnbfinder.com) and Marti Mayne of BedandBreakfast.com (http://www.bedandbreakfast.com), and came up with five inns that fit the bill, mostly. (We used a bit of poetic license in the ghost department.) All prices quoted are for two people sharing a room, and include breakfast. Transportation and taxes are not included.

A waterfront manor on the Eastern Shore. Great Oak Manor (800-504-3098, http://www.greatoak.com) is set on 12 acres just outside the colonial town of Chestertown, Md. There are 11 guest rooms, some with working fireplaces and water views; public rooms include a library, music room and conservatory with lap pool. But the real attraction here are the grounds: a private beach on Chesapeake Bay, tall forests of oaks and black walnut trees, hiking paths that take you past bald eagles, blue osprey and Canada geese.

Dining options abound in Chestertown and nearby Rock Hall, but if you time your visit right, you can participate in one of the inn's culinary and music evenings, when a chef from the Culinary Institute of America prepares five-course meals and a pianist plays classical and jazz tunes. (There's one scheduled for March 12-13.) No fine-art museums in the immediate area, but Rock Hall and Chestertown are home to several galleries, and there are many more in St. Michaels, a little over an hour away. If you want pampering, the inn will arrange for a massage therapist to make an in-suite visit.

As for the ghost component, will Tallulah Bankhead do? The flamboyant actress is buried in nearby St. Paul's Churchyard.

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