February 2008 Issue
Romantic Retreats - Mill House
Choose your escape, from a relaxing, historic inn to a big-city B&B surrounded by arts and culture.
Even the most enthusiastic warm-weather reveler has to appreciate February. When else but during this month does the calendar encourage us to while away the day keeping warm with the ones we love?
Thankfully, Ohio boasts plenty of places where travelers can escape both winterâ€™s chill and lifeâ€™s stresses on Valentineâ€™s Day, if not longer â€“â€“ from cozy spots with rich histories in Mason and Grand Rapids, to attractive retreats with intriguing surroundings in Cleveland and Granville.
Pampering, entertainment and alone time are a given at the four B&Bs and inns we spotlight here. The newfound affection youâ€™ll develop for our stateâ€™s getaways is simply a bonus thatâ€™s perfect for the season.
â€œPlease be patient after ringing the bell. The innkeepers live upstairs, and they walk slowly.â€�
So reads the sign on the door of the Mill House, a homey, red-brick structure on the Maumee River, nestled in the northwest Ohio town of Grand Rapids. Yet, very shortly after ringing the bell, innkeepers Kathy and Ron Munk both quickly appear â€“â€“ suggesting that the sign is just one of the many artifacts from the Mill Houseâ€™s long history. Or, if not dating back to the buildingâ€™s construction in 1898, at least to a time when innkeepers were less quick to tend to a guestâ€™s every need.
Although the Mill House has been a bed and breakfast since 1992, its original purpose is hinted at in its name. The building began life as a steam-powered flour mill, and, over the course of more than a century, it has weathered everything from raging fires to great floods. (And, during its relatively brief tenure as a tavern, likely quite a bit of rough language and a watered-down drink or two.)
Now, however, itâ€™s devoted to hosting travelers, including visiting couples who appreciate authentic touches as much as they do exploring Ohio. Proof of its past is appealingly evident in such quaint accents as striking gaslight fixtures. All four of the B&Bâ€™s guest rooms feature exposed brick on the walls and massive wooden beams on the ceilings. Meanwhile, the buildingâ€™s unique history and renovations allow guests imaginationsâ€™ to run wild at the sight of other distinctive details, such as speculating if the floors â€“â€“ with their long, thin wooden slats â€“â€“ were salvaged from a duckpin bowling alley.
In the B&Bâ€™s Edward Howard room (named for one of the first settlers in the small village), visitors unwind in the king-size bed or in front of the four-season fireplace. Those in the Garden Room wake up to a scenic view of the Mill Houseâ€™s gardens, the Sidecut Gilead Canal and the Maumee River.
Such attractive features account for the Mill House being a destination for wedding parties from neighboring Nazareth Hall, as well as more than a few cyclists (guests enjoy direct access to the towpath that runs along the Maumee River). But this time of year, visitors ringing the Mill House Bell are more likely to be amorous couples from around Ohio, seeking a secluded escape for the night, and a leisurely day of enjoying attractions in Grand Rapids and nearby Toledo. â€“â€“ Eric Pfeffinger
Mill House, 24070 Front St., Grand Rapids, 419/832-6455. www.themillhouse.com.
Noteworthy Stops Nearby â€¦Dandyâ€™s Lane, 24164 Front St., Grand Rapids, 419/832-6425. www.dandyslane.com. A two-story, turn-of-the-century Victorian building that carries literally thousands of collectibles and conversation pieces, as well as decorative furniture and more than 50 flavors of fudge.
The Kerr House, 17777 Beaver St., Grand Rapids, 419/832-1733. www.thekerrhouse.com. The health retreat offers soothing individual treatments in a Queen Anne Victorian Manor, including LaStone Therapy and Citrus Exfoliation Massage.
Angelwood Gallery, 24195 Front St., Grand Rapids, 419/ 832-0625. Arts lovers and avid shoppers delight in everything from homemade pottery and paintings to jewelry and sculptures.