Written by: Kharin Gibson | Photographs provided by the properties, except for Angie’s Bed & Breakfast and Camellia Cottage, which were taken by Kathleen Fairall
With summer coyly peering from the horizon, our thoughts drift to scenes of a well-deserved respite away from the everyday grind. We muse over temperate days in a hammock and tranquil evenings void of fast food and microwaved meals. We eagerly watch the days tick away, anticipating the blissfulness of a vacation laden with personal indulgence and relaxation.
For those weary of the trite accommodations offered by big-name, commercial hotels fraught with bungles of harried business travelers and cranky children, a smaller, more intimate setting may be the remedy.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a staycation or suggesting accommodations for visitors, the Cape Fear region has a handful of smaller inn choices that exemplify the grace and elegance of our surrounding coastal haven. Here are a few picks from the area:
Luxuriate in the grand opulence of this historic inn
Graystone Inn, located in the historic district of downtown Wilmington, is a turn of the century historic landmark. Originally built as the Bridgers Mansion in 1905 by Elizabeth Bridgers, widow of prominent local merchant, Preston Haywood Bridgers, The Graystone is a AAA Four Diamond and a Select Registry property owned by Rich and Marcia Moore.
This elegant inn built in the neoclassical revival style offers luxurious accommodations for those wanting to indulge in the opulence of a romantic getaway. The Graystone pampers guests by providing sumptuous Egyptian cotton linens, down-alternative pillows and European Matelassé coverlets, Gilchrist and Soames bath amenities and Graystone Inn robes, for added comfort.
Each of the inn’s seven lavish rooms and two exquisite suites offer a television, telephone, hair dryer, iron, ironing board, and free internet service. An evening reception is held nightly and guests are invited to partake in a complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres reception by the fireplace in their handsomely furnished library.
Graystone Inns makes a perfect venue for weddings, receptions, and private parties. The grandeur and grace of the inn’s interior, from the majestic Corinthian columns in the Grand Hall to the intricate fireplace carvings, provide the perfect backdrop for any type of ceremony or gathering.
Historic Firehouse Suite
Experience a unique stay in an historic firemen’s bunkhouse
This historic two bedroom, one bath property gives its guest a truly memorable experience. Originally built in April 1915, this former firemen’s bunkhouse is ideally located on 5th Avenue and Castle Street and conveniently in walking distance to Wilmington’s lively waterfront.
This spacious second floor apartment boasts an open floor plan and 1,700 square feet of light & luxury. It has been decorated by an acclaimed designer, with understated historic detail throughout, combining comfort and privacy with a refreshingly hip style.
Upstairs, the unit contains 14 foot ceilings, hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, concrete counter-tops, stainless steel appliances along with elegant furnishings and finishes. Original artwork hangs in every room including several pieces by renowned local artists.
The living room offers quality and luxury including a large flat screen television with DVD, relaxing seating for guests and a dining area large enough to seat 10 people comfortably. There is a reading nook in the tower and an office set up for those who still have to get work done. Guests can also enjoy an afternoon cocktail in the perch of the firehouse tower or relax in the adjoining garden while watching the sunset.
In close proximity to the Castle Street Art & Antique District, guests will enjoy perusing unique antique shops, vintage clothiers, wine shops, art galleries and restaurants. Bear in mind that this property is a second story unit without an elevator and is not handicapped accessible; you must be able to climb stairs to access the unit.
Tranquility abounds in this pet-friendly, eco-conscious hideaway
Just a few blocks away in the historic district of Wilmington is Camellia Cottage Bed & Breakfast, offering their rendition of “friendly luxury”. This casually, laid-back cottage is located on a quaint, brick-paved road, amid blooming azaleas, magnolias and jasmine, Camellia Cottage is pet friendly and each guest room features a queen-sized bed, private bath, fireplace, and wireless internet.
Camellia Cottage is eco-conscious and offers bath products created by Capitol Soapworks of Madison, WI, which are made with moisturizing camellia seed oil and contain no artificial ingredients or fragrances. Along the same vein, they only use baking soda, white vinegar and Murphy’s Oil Soap as cleaning products.
A lush, colorful perennial garden surrounds the property giving way to an intimate courtyard. Enjoy the relaxing backdrop of birds and butterflies under a jasmine-laced arbor. Allow your worries to melt away listening to the serene sounds of a flowing fountain from a gently rocking hammock.
Gracious hospitality, home-cooked meals, and engaging conversation
This 1917 brick, two-and-a-half story, Georgian Revival house was designed by architects James F. Gause, Jr., and James B. Lynch for prominent local businessman Herbert Bluethenthal and his wife Janet. Today, it is owned by Angie and has found its way onto the National Register of Historic Places.
The mansion’s entrance is particularly well detailed and centrally located in the five-bay façade. It is composed of an open pediment above a round-arched entrance with flanking sidelights. The interior is furnished with several antiques and reproductions. A large side porch is available for rocking, relaxing and taking in the peaceful, floral surroundings. There are five distinct bedrooms available for guests.
The property can host events that accommodate up to 125 guests. The property is perfect for celebrating any occasion, either indoors or outdoors. Guests are charmed by the owners’ wonderful hospitality and eagerness to assure a relaxing, worthwhile visit to the area. Each morning, guests are treated to a sumptuous complimentary breakfast in the large dining room and the afternoon is free to explore the beaches, historic sites and area shopping.
Captain Newton’s Inn
Soak up the sun poolside at this intimate coastal cottage
Located in the historic coastal town of Southport, on the corner of Moore and Lord Street, this wonderful little Victorian inn has been a part of the landscape since 1886. Originally settled on land proclaimed by the city founders, it was built by Captain Walker Newton, a renowned area river pilot.
This beautiful inn is nestled back among centuries-old oak and palm trees and is within a block’s stroll to the waterfront and downtown Southport. Ideally located in close proximity to the main drag, it is within easy walking distance to all the restaurants and specialty shops Southport has to offer.
Captain Newton’s Inn offer three uniquely furnished guestrooms, all equipped with luxurious king size beds and touches of traditional accents incorporating rich hardwood floors, armoires, and oriental rugs. Each guestroom has its own private bathroom and small wine refrigerator stocked with bottled water. Outside, the backyard lures guests with its serene wading pool and connected hot tub, perfect for enjoying the tranquility and charm of Southport’s historic district.
Other amenities include a daily breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese reception. Two front porches and a side porch allow guests to soak up the southern hospitality and relaxing ambiance of the languid coastal neighborhood. The inn also offers across-the-street parking for added convenience.
Robert Ruark Inn
Lose yourself in Victorian elegance
Just a few blocks from Southport’s waterfront, conveniently tucked away from the flurry on Howe Street is the Robert Ruark Inn, the namesake of renowned journalist and fiction writer who penned numerous articles for magazines such as Field and Stream.
This Victorian-style inn transports guest to a bygone era. The inn offers visitors four stately guest rooms, exquisitely decorated in period antiques and luxury linens. Guests are provided with Aveda products in private baths with vintage themed bathrooms including granite counters and claw foot tubs or a spa-like shower. Three rooms boast fireplaces and one has an antique stained glass window that inspires guests to curl up with a good book.
Guests can enjoy the seafaring heritage of historic Southport by having access to the property’s complimentary bicycles and tour of the area, allowing for easy access to historical sites and points of interest along the waterfront, yacht basin and shopping district.
Each morning guests are provided a full, multi-course breakfast along with afternoon wine and cheese. Guests are always encouraged to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea in the brick courtyard or on the front rocking porch beholding the natural beauty and splendor of Southport’s historic seafaring village.