Family Affair - Hot Gay-Owned Hotels
A smart set of LGBT-owned accommodations, from charming historic hotels to an ultra-fabulous resort with views to match.
1889 White Gate Inn & Cottage
This romantic B&B, tucked into a verdant corner of this friendly Southern town, gives off an aura of tradition blended with contemporary style. The 11-room inn is listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places and has earned an AAA Four Diamond rating. Owners Ralph Coffey and Frank Salvo have improved the property over the last 14 years to be named a Distinguished Inn of North America by Select Registry, a leading innkeeping association. And their attention to detail shows, from the classic white wicker chaises in the beautiful solarium to the lushly landscaped gardens and koi pond.
Gorgeous rooms and suites divided among the Inn, Bungalow and Carriage House buildings are named after famous poets and wits—think Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker—and decorated in a sumptuous but comfortable mien. Each features a distinctive queen or king bed with luxury linens and cozy sitting area with antique furniture. Some suites offer two-person Jacuzzi tubs and stacked-stone fireplaces that set the tone for romance; most have their own entrance via a private rocking chair porch. Accommodations in the Bungalow are also pet-friendly. Even if you’re not traveling with your furry companion, you might toss a ball around with Stryker Roche and Ida Claire, the two adorable resident Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
An elegant three course breakfast begins your day, with options including peaches, pears and pineapples baked in a brown sugar sherry sauce or an airy crab and artichoke egg puff. A wine and hors d’oeuvres social hour affords time to mingle with other guests.
The heart of Asheville is a five minute walk from the 1889 White Gate Inn. A short drive will bring you hiking trails and scenic overlooks in the bucolic Blue Ridge Mountains, and to the colossal Biltmore Estate, the Vanderbilt’s Gilded Age mansion listed as the largest private home in America.
PALM SPRINGS, CA
There is much more for lesbians in Palm Springs than the annual Dinah Shore Weekend—and the welcoming innkeepers of the lesbian-owned, Casitas Laquita resort will be happy to show you around. Built in 1932 and completely renovated this year, this desert retreat is blessed by perfect weather and a beautiful setting. Inside the private, gated grounds festooned with flowering vines, the Spanish Colonial-style architecture and neutral palette of desert tones soothes away city stress. Guests can relax in one of 15 smartly appointed casitas (a.k.a. bungalows) or suites with fireplaces for cool nights as well as private patios and hot tubs. In addition, each casita has a full kitchen for whipping up a custom dinner or accommodating a long-term stay. The Inn’s guest rooms are nestled around a handsome inner courtyard filled with tropical greenery, palm trees and a sparkling heated swimming pool surrounded by cushy chaise lounges.
The serene colors and striking artwork of old Mexico adorn the lodgings, though the rooms’ modern amenities fit in nicely with the rustic décor. Each casita features free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with premium cable, A/C and gourmet kitchen with everything you need for an intimate meal. Outdoor barbecue areas and picnic spots are available to every guest, as is pool gear like floats and luxury towels for sunbathing in total comfort.
Guests have raved that “from the moment you arrive it feels like home,” and lesbian travelers from all corners of the globe have made repeat visits to Palm Springs’ women’s oasis. Expect to make friends by the pool or over a glass of wine at the barbecue pit. You’d never guess that Casitas Laquita is located on one of Palm Springs’ main avenues and a short walk from fabulous restaurants and downtown shopping—its tranquility puts it in a world by itself.
Antebellum Guest House
NEW ORLEANS, LA
The opulent culture of Creole New Orleans comes to life at this decadent guesthouse. Visitors have described the grand Greek Revival home, built in the 1830s with most of its original detailing intact, as much more than a hotel—it’s an experience. Set two blocks from the French Quarter on historic Esplanade Avenue, the Antebellum is chock-full of 19th century antiques; some with ornate flourishes, others adding a quirky frisson to the period style, down to the tableware and chandeliers.
The two rooms and one two-bedroom suite are lovingly detailed with a distinct theme. The Bordello Room, with its swagged canopy bed rescued from an actual 19th century brothel, recreates a tableau in Storyville, the city’s notorious red light district of the Victorian age. The Rococo Room is embellished with an elaborately carved queen bed and evocative stained glass windows.
Guests can dine on an appropriately vintage New Orleans style breakfast in the formal dining room, made from Southern recipes dating from 1830 to 1890. The crowning glory of the hotel is a large private courtyard garden with a sunken hot tub, fountains and an ornamental fish pond. Gray Spanish moss hangs romantically from the arms of live oak trees.
The French Quarter, paddlewheel boats, carriage rides, Bourbon Street bars and New Orleans’ petite gayborhood is a stroll away.
NEW HOPE, PA
A private getaway only five minutes from the gentle bustle of gay-friendly New Hope, the Lexington House’s historic property is a ticket into the past (with all modern conveniences, of course). Nested on four grassy acres in the Bucks County countryside, the main farmhouse and auxiliary buildings date from 1749. The two-story main house evokes a simpler time, right down to the variegated colors of the rustic stone exterior and blue wooden shutters.
A stay at this serene property doesn’t mean you’ll be roughing it, however. Each of the six rooms offers a private bath and queen beds with Federal-style antique furniture and thoughtful touches, like fresh flowers and cozy robes in every room and a constant supply of lemonade and homemade cake in the guest kitchen. While high speed Internet access is available, there are no televisions to distract guests from their date with R n’ R.
The pretty gardens and unique splashing pools are what set the Lexington House apart. Incorporating the ruins of the property’s old stone barn, the upper wading pool cascades in a gentle waterfall into the lower pool, which is large enough for a leisurely swim. Both are surrounded by flagstones and tactical landscaping that presents natural views from every angle. In warm months, the flowerbeds bloom with vibrant colors, and fall sparks the groves of trees into oranges, yellows and crimson.
Lexington House hosts Ed White and Michael McHale recommend an afternoon trip to New Hope’s fabulous antique shops and art galleries. Nearby, you may walk through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, a local arboretum of native plants; immerse yourself in Revolutionary War history at Washington’s Crossing Historical Park; or rummage through treasures at Rice’s flea market, a 30-acre outdoor bazaar open Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The Inn on First
Undulating rows of grapevines, fertile valleys dappled with sunshine, world class inns and restaurants serving fine locavore cuisine—California’s Napa Valley, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, represents the zenith of the good life. The Inn on First, a contemporary bed and breakfast within the framework of a historic mansion, embodies the casual-chic air of this foodie destination.
Each room in the late 19th century mansion possesses a relaxing ambience with a mix of contemporary and vintage furnishings; a queen or king bed, private bath with two-person whirlpool tub, fireplace, house-made truffles and sparkling wine. By design, no televisions will hinder your intimacy. The Garden Suites, in a newer building complementing the original estate, feature the aforementioned amenities as well as private balconies shaded by a 150-year-old oak tree.
The soothing environment might tempt you to sleep in every morning, but we don’t recommend it—you’d miss out on the singular aspect of the Inn on First’s hospitality. With their combined talents of 18 years as a couple, chef and proprietor Jim Gunther and general manager-host and proprietor Jamie Cherry redefine the traditional B&B experience. Gunther, a graduate of Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, manages the magnificent breakfasts that are served each morning, while Cherry is responsible for the décor scheme and guest services.
They provide a communal table where guests come to breakfast at their leisure during the scheduled breakfast time. Fresh fruit, yogurt, house-made granola, cereals and home-made pastry begin the meal at a sideboard. When guests finish the first course they are served a hot entrée at table from Gunther’s collection of more than 100 unique recipes. (He hopes to reach 250 without repeating a menu for any of his guests, whether it’s their first visit or their twenty-fifth!) A representative sampling includes tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons and poached eggs; breakfast lasagna with house-made pasta noodles, scrambled eggs, house-made sausage, ricotta cheese, bacon and a roasted tomato sauce; or cornmeal gorditas with house-made chorizo sausage, tomatillo sauce, and poached eggs with a side salad tossed with cilantro vinaigrette. Heaven!
LOS ANGELES, CA
Architecture and history buffs will swoon over Sowden House in the lesbian-dense Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. This beautifully restored and updated mansion was designed in the Mayan Revival style by Lloyd Wright, son of the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally the home of photographer John Sowden, the magical oasis in the heart of the metropolis employs Meso-American motifs in the open floor plan. The central courtyard, with its pillars and fountain, references a Mayan temple by way of Art Deco Hollywood.
Sowden House is a single rental, so you’ll have the run of the place to yourself: the three bedrooms and six bathrooms can accommodate up to six people. The master bathroom’s luxe features include a free-standing spa tub, glass encased steam shower room, and a meditation area enhanced by a peaceful koi pond. The home also features a reading room with a massive saltwater aquarium, chef’s kitchen, formal dining room, two fireplaces and a dramatic city view. All rooms face the interior courtyard, which shelters a secluded Jacuzzi and pool amid succulents and blooming vines. The courtyard doors slide into the walls to bring the outdoors in, while water and fireplaces unite Wright’s design elements.
On entering this 6,000 square-foot manse, you’ll feel transported to another time and place—but the Sowden House is close to Los Feliz’s funky shops and eateries as well as Hollywood’s famed attractions and nightlife.
The Chadwick B&B
Portland, Maine’s largest city, represents the dynamic aspects of a cosmopolitan metropolis with an appealing small-town feel. This coastal destination proudly marries its pre-Revolutionary War maritime history and architecture with a cutting-edge foodie culture, arts scene and gay-friendly attitude.
The Chadwick Bed and Breakfast’s homespun clapboard exterior personifies Yankee simplicity, while the award-winning B&B’s contemporary, unfussy accommodations and superb brunch provide a peaceful respite from day-to-day stress. Built in 1891, the big Victorian inn retains its 19th century appeal with the addition of modern touches like electric fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and memory-foam beds for a delicious night’s rest. The garden features a cast iron firepit, a hammock for two, classic Adirondack chairs and lively fountain.
Breakfast is a gourmet affair served at intimate tables for two in the dining room or in the garden on warm, sunny days (and you won’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to snag a spot—the dining hour begins at 8am). Using fresh ingredients sourced from local farmer’s markets and independent grocers, breakfast begins a Continental array of coffee and tea, homemade granola and muffins, followed by a mouthwatering entrée. Keep an eye out for the signature Maine lobster eggs Benedict with lemon-scallion Hollandaise sauce, blackberry cobbler waffles with oven bacon, or a rosemary and thyme goat cheese quiche with breakfast panzanella. If your schedule demands an early departure, the innkeepers will be happy to pack a to-go bag with hot coffee and juice, fresh fruit, pastry and cheese.
Portland is a compact town, and the Chadwick, located in the west end, is a leisurely stroll from shops, restaurants and museums. The Arts District on Congress Street is a 10-minute walk from the inn, while the Old Port, Portland’s downtown, is a scenic 20-minute walk.
Inn at the Moors
Perched on a sand dune/oak forest dipping into the Atlantic Ocean on Cape Cod Bay, the Inn at the Moors may be Provincetown’s most picturesque lodging—in a town known for its unrivaled scenery and blazing sunsets. A short distance west from the bustle of Commercial Street, the Inn at the Moors feels a world away from gay karaoke parties and jovial lobster restaurants. Surrounded by tranquil saltwater marshes (a.k.a. the moors) that teem with waterbirds, the inn boasts unimpeded views of Provincetown Harbor, Wood End Lighthouse and the protected dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore, all within walking distance.
Owned and operated by proprietors Diane Daren and Loretta O’Connor for the past 21 years, the Inn has been a peaceful respite for more than six decades. Guests love the calm atmosphere while still being able to walk or bike to Provincetown’s busy downtown. All 30 guestrooms include private baths, mini-refrigerators, cable TV and adjustable temperature control. Upper level rooms also have private balconies with a bird’s-eye view of the estuary; ground-floor rooms give guests the sea-level perspective and easy access to the heated pool and BBQ area.
The expanded continental breakfast is served each morning in the lobby, which features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the marshes. It’s a popular gathering place for guests to casually mingle and share their experiences over muffins, yogurt, cereals and piping hot coffee. Daren and O’Connor’s quality hospitality and attention to every detail of their guests’ experience has rewarded them with countless return customers over the years.
Horizon Guest House
Paradise on earth is an apt description of this heavenly resort on Hawaii’s Big Island. Set 1,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean on the rocky windward coast, Horizon Guest House offers secluded accommodations, tranquil atmosphere, top-of-the-line amenities and incomparable 20-mile coastline views.
The resort’s four spacious suites were built by proprietor Clem Classon to take advantage of awe-inspiring sunsets and refreshing trade winds without sacrificing guests’ need for solitude. The rooms are arranged in a staggered line to afford the best views of the ocean from the private lanais (patios), yet provide privacy from the sightlines of the other rooms. The comfortable furnishings include handmade quilts atop the beds, in-room fridges for late-night snacks, and electric blankets if the cool night breezes from the slopes of Mauna Loa get too chilly. The main house has a media room and lounge for guests’ use.
Apart from the suites, Horizon’s main feature is its glistening, solar-heated infinity pool, flowing toward the ocean; every aquatic accoutrement, from floaties and beach towels to cabana chairs, snorkeling gear and coolers, is graciously provided for guests. A barbecue grill and all the utensils allows guests to dine al fresco. The 15,000-acre ranch surrounding the resort ensures quiet (and ultra-fresh produce for the included breakfast).
Nearby points of interest on the Big Island include Place of Refuge National Park, famous for its great snorkeling (the coral reefs provide habitats for scores of tropical fish species). Kealakekua Bay, another protected marine preserve, is popular with kayakers, divers and snorkelers. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a 90-minute drive to the south.