Tuesday, June 9, 2009

OTR Destination: Grand Rapids Part II @Peaches B&B

After our trip to Founders, we headed to Peaches Bed and Breakfast on Gay Avenue just south of the Davenport campus off of Fulton in the historic Heritage Hill district. It’s east of the downtown area by only a few blocks and easily accessible by to everything by foot. We chose to stay at a bed and breakfast because it’s a local business and their profits stay here in Michigan unlike those of national hotel chains. Besides, Lynn and I like the unique charm of a B&B and find that we get more for our money and more personal attention, if and when needed. How long did you wait for that extra towel at your last hotel stay?

We checked in around 5:45PM when we were greeted by our host, Jane Lovett. Jane has been a long time supporter of the Made in Michigan Movement and was instrumental in us piloting the On the Road series in downtown Grand Rapids. Jane captures the classic art of inn keeping. She finds out your preferences, tastes and schedule in advance to spare constant consulting. Do you like an early meal, have food allergies, and prefer to be left alone during your stay? Perhaps, you seek recommendations and a guided walk through the house daring to catch a glimpse of the estate’s history? Jane is more than willing to oblige; she is a local woman with a friendly smile who maintains profound knowledge of Grand Rapids and all it has to offer. She is the third owner of this historic home.

Parking is off the street and we entered by way of the south facing porch. The Wisteria grows neatly up columns providing shade and privacy while offering unobstructed views of the ground’s gardens. First impressions, this place is enormous and considerably larger than any B&B we have ever stayed at. Peaches Bed and Breakfast is an 8,000 square foot, classically preserved Georgian manor. The house was constructed in 1916 by a local man of wealth and it shows spoils and stature of a home of means. Through the entry way is the wide staircase leading to the second floor. To my left is the dining room that could easily facilitate sixteen guests comfortably. The living room to my right is bigger than my first two apartments—combined! Antiques and period pieces tastefully decorate the manor yet the home is removed of all stuffiness as you are encouraged to relax and enjoy yourself instead of touring the home with museum rules.

The second floor has five large bedrooms each with their own private baths. The rooms are all comfortable and spacious. They have a desk, plenty of closet space, and the usual amenities such as coffee makers and additional seating areas as these rooms are as big if not larger than the average hotel room. Our bed was a four-post queen that just seems to hug you as you lie in it. This is one item, and it is major with me, that the majority of my hotel stays have floundered on—the concept of comfort. We were quite comfortable. A look to the ceiling is a louvered skylight system that is unique to any home I have ever been in. This opens the floor to an abundance of natural light. The third floor is a lofted area which is the proprietor’s quarters.

The house is a true classic. It has a huge kitchen where Jane prepares unique breakfast items such as stuffed French toast and “Magic Pancakes,” a Peaches signature item, complete with beverages and the starter peach cup. All items are served on fine china, real silver, and on linen. There are fireplaces everywhere, a library, a sun porch, pantries, front and back staircases, and a ballroom down in the basement where the original owners spun wax discs on the old Vitrola, perfecting the Lindy hop. The basement is finished and incredibly roomy as well. It has the consistent 10-foot ceiling that the rest of the home has. It has a bar, original hand-painted murals, comfortable seating and the original pool table.

The house is a well preserved marvel of yesteryear’s success. Jane notes, that very little has been altered on the home since 1916, yet nothing is lacking. You still get little bottles of mouthwash, shampoo, shower caps and even WI-FI service to accommodate guests to update their blogs and Facebook pages. The entire home is also smoke free! Our last hotel room smelled like a speakeasy, so this was a refreshing break. Further, you will also note a lack of televisions in the rooms, although they are available upon request. I found that it encouraged us to wake up earlier and stay out later. After all, we did come to experience downtown Grand Rapids.

We washed up and changed our clothes for supper. It’s about 6:20PM and we have a dinner reservation at Dan Gendler’s acclaimed restaurant San Chez: A Tapas Bistro on Fulton St. only 10 minutes away, on foot--right on time!

Come back tomorrow for Part III of VI in our blog series from our On the Road series covering our recent trip to Grand Rapids. Tomorrow’s blog will feature the coveted trip to San Chez.

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