Room with a View: Victorian Inns by the Water
The sound of water lapping on the shore just steps from the B&B soothe the city dweller’s soul. Within minutes a kayak is made ready and you glide into the water free of all thoughts except what’s around the next bend. A great blue heron squawks an alarm and flies off as you interrupt its fishing session. You quietly approach an osprey’s nest and hear chicks begging for food from momma and poppa. Taking in all these natural moments are what makes a trip to the Delmarva Peninsula remarkable. The best part is that there are several Maryland Bed and Breakfast options with easy driving distance - even from Wilmington, Baltimore, and Washington - offering top-notch lodging and cuisine along with a waterfront location.
Whitehaven, incorporated in 1702 is one of the oldest towns on the Eastern Shore. In 1810, the Whitehaven Hotel must have been the talk of the town when this upscale lodging hotspot opened on the banks of the Wicomico River, just upstream from where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Traveling salesmen, watermen, and shipping workers often stayed here during the heyday of fishing, crabbing, and oystering on the Bay.
Time had not been kind to the old hotel before it was rescued from certain destruction in 1996 by Ken Trippe, who remains the hotel’s owner. After almost five years of painstaking renovations, the Whitehaven Hotel opened as a bed and breakfast in 2001 and started a new chapter in its rich history. Modern-day visitors partake in quiet hikes, bicycling on scenic country roads, kayaking on the Wicomico River, bird watching from the front deck, fishing off the hotel’s dock, or any number of escapist pursuits.
Innkeeper Cynthia Curran has been managing the hotel for 14 years and personally delivers thoughtful service and delicious breakfasts. Don’t miss happy hour with complimentary wine and appetizers enjoyed in the hotel or out on the front porch watching Maryland’s oldest ferry come and go.
Choose from eight bedrooms welcoming guests for short or long stays. The Sailmaker’s Loft includes a full kitchen plus gives guests sweeping views of the Wicomico River and surrounding area from the third floor. Well-behaved pets are welcomed in the Lincoln room, making this hotel a rarity in Delmarva B&B lodging, and you can enjoy walking the streets of Whitehaven with Fido taking in the relaxed feel of this little town.
A scrumptious breakfast is served at 9 a.m. daily. One of the favorite items is the rolled pancake, stuffed with fresh berry compote and orange zests, paired with sausage patties, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit - a colorful and tasty version of a breakfast classic. The Whitehaven Hotel is so loved by guests, many return year after year, as evidenced in each room’s guestbook.
> Whitehaven Hotel, 2685 Whitehaven Road, Whitehaven, MD, (410) 873-3099
The tiny town of Denton, Maryland, on the shores of the Choptank River, is where you’ll find Turnbridge Point. Owners Steve Konopelski and Rob Griffith purchased the vintage Victorian home in 2014 with the intention of turning the magnificent old girl into a destination getaway.
The Bryant-Todd House was built in 1868 near the Caroline County courthouse. When Steve and Rob bought this stunning Victorian, it had already been in use as a Bed and Breakfast, but required updating bedrooms and bathrooms, and a whole new kitchen. Steve is a professionally- trained pastry chef in the French style and on his must-have list was a commercial bakery suitable for his business. A new name was the final touch ahead of the May 2015 opening.
Five spotless guest rooms are named after the first five owners of the home and are exceptionally appointed, most with en-suite bathrooms. Book the Todd and Fisher rooms together if you want a Jack and Jill bathroom combination. Consider bringing a group to attend one of Steve’s baking classes then spend the night for a memorable and educational stay.
Around check-in time, find cheese, crackers, and baked treats for a BYOB happy hour in the dining area, patio, or on the beach overlooking the Choptank River. The backyard is like a private park where guests can relax with a cool beverage and watch the River flow.
With a central location, you will find excellent dinner options just a short stroll over to Market Street where Harry’s Food and Spirits or Market Street Public House will take care of you. Complimentary kayaks are available for an outing on the Choptank to work up an appetite if needed.
Guest arriving at Turnbridge Point usually detect aromas of fresh-baked treats and warm butter. After checking in, look for fresh baked goodies in the dining room if you can’t wait for breakfast to sample Steve’s wares. Breakfast favorites might be a garden veggie frittata, quiche, scones, chocolate croissants, fresh picked tomatoes, and more. Steve runs his baking business out of the Turnbridge Point kitchen and supplies several local shops. At 9 p.m. nightly, fresh baked cookies are served, in case you have room for a bedtime snack. You can also purchase baked goods at the onsite shop to bring home to family and friends if desired. Be forewarned such good intentions have often failed on the drive home if the baked treats are in reach of driver and passenger.
> Turnbridge Point, 119 Gay Street, Denton, MD, (443) 448-4782
INN AT THE CANAL
In Chesapeake City, one of the of the standouts in a town of restored Victorian homes from the 1800s is Inn at the Canal. Formerly known as the Brady/Rees House, built by Henry Brady for his wife to celebrate the birth of their first son in 1876, this home was in danger of disappearing.
After sitting vacant and decaying during the 1960s, Brady’s glorious home was saved just in time in 1967 by John Lucas, who used his skills as an architect to bring the house back into a new era of glory. Lucas and subsequent owners, including newest innkeepers Ed and Sarah O’Hara, have endowed the building with period furnishings and homey touches evident to this day. One of the most outstanding elements of the home is the ceiling paintings in the dining room and parlor. These paintings were probably the work of an itinerant painter and feature an Egyptian theme. Few of these types of ceiling paintings exist in an unaltered form. Although the paintings are showing their age, they still are rare and beautiful works of art.
Near the banks of the Chesapeake Canal, the Inn’s location makes it easy for guests to take to the water on a boat tour, wander the back roads, visit Chateau Bu-De winery, then return to find the perfect spot for dinner. The Bayard House Restaurant, located in the oldest building in town, is a favorite choice of returning guests.
> Inn at the Canal, 104 Bohemia Avenue, Chesapeake City, MD, (410) 885-5995