With just a handful of rooms, these tiny inns offer an intimate respite from the world.
By Kim Knox Beckius
Oct 24 2019
While it’s true that inns with three or fewer guest rooms might not be structurally tiny, their limited capacity and marketing budgets do tend to keep them something of a secret. But give any of the following diminutive bed-and-breakfasts a try, and you’ll discover how caring for a select number of guests is something their on-site owners take seriously. You’re in for custom-cooked breakfasts, personalized local advice, and as much conversation—or privacy—as you could desire.
A Revolutionary War colonel raised his family in this 1793 dwelling, now a three-room inn set against a forest backdrop in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. Visitors come to hike and ski, and to admire the Hood Museum’s art collection at Dartmouth College and the Enfield Shaker Museum’s homage to simplicity. And when they come here to stay in an antiques-furnished guest room with wide-plank floors and a private bath, they’re greeted by a pair of loyal Vizsla dogs, Bo and Gertie, and treated to afternoon tea and a breakfast of homemade delicacies ranging from shirred eggs and stuffed pears to tender scones and pumpkin bread. For more than 20 years, innkeeping has been a lifestyle that’s enabled owner Nancy Smith to caretake this white-painted, wide-porch early-American treasure. 603-632-4519; shakerhill.com
For Steven Lazarus and Celeste Yanni, converting the 1910 home where they had raised three children into a B&B presented a quandary: How could three guest rooms share a single bathroom without anyone feeling uncomfortable? Leave it to an architect and a retired nursing professor to devise a solution. First, they made the bathroom perfect, with a soaking tub, heat lamp, and high-tech wall-mounted toilet. Then, they instituted a unique policy: Whether you book one, two, or all three of the pastel-painted, soothingly appointed guest rooms, the entire inn is yours exclusively. Yanni tailors organic-focused breakfasts to your group’s preferences, and you’re half a block from the Choate Rosemary Hall campus, where future luminaries such as JFK and Nicholas Negroponte spent their formative days. 203-265-4035; belltowerbandb.com
Binge-watching at this seaside inn doesn’t means you’ll be parked in front of the lone communal television set, but rather glued to the picture windows, where a live-action nature movie starring dramatic shorebirds and mesmerizing lighting effects is constantly playing. Even from the deep whirlpool tub in the Egret Room, one of two luxurious nests for guests, you can watch gulls and cormorants swoop and wispy skies catch fire at sunset. Encouraged by friends to become innkeepers, Julie and Tony Broom have fallen in love with the role. His breakfast inventions—including the Thimble Islands omelet, rich with caramelized onions, shiitake mushrooms, and gorgonzola—are the sort you remember for a lifetime. 203-488-3693; thimbleislandsbb.com
Even the living room’s fireplace can’t warm the spirit the way sunlight does when it pours through the windows of this c. 1862 Greek Revival after the mighty beech out front has shed its leaves. With just three spacious rooms with private baths, the tiniest of the 20 “Inns of Rockport” enfolds its guests in comfort and contemporary style when they return from a day of exploring a coastal village known for music, art, shopping, and a holiday season that culminates with a heartwarmingly inclusive small-town New Year’s Eve. Retired French teacher Helene Duffy, who cooks up treats such as pineapple upside-down French toast while leaving the granola baking to husband Dan, used to tell students that she’d open a bed-and-breakfast in Provence one day. “I found this,” she says, “and this is close enough.” 978-546-2864; beechtreebb.com
Particularly in Maine’s long off-season, the rates are an incredible value at this mid-19th-century inn near Bowdoin College. Icicle lights sparkle on the front porch year-round as a festive welcome to Judy and Tom Connelie’s home, where two of the guest rooms look out at the Androscoggin River, the third has a toasty gas fireplace, and all have private baths. Judy’s sweet-and-savory-combo breakfasts are alone worth a stop-off on your way to Acadia or other far-flung places, but even the sweet scent of double-chocolate-chip muffins might not immediately lure you out from underneath your comfy bed’s handmade quilt. 207-725-4165; blacklanternbandb.com