I'm just back from three days in Rockland, Maine, visiting the four Historic Inns of Rockland. What's wonderful about the Historic Inns of Rockland is their cooperative partnership. They work closely to not only promote staying in a historic B&B, but are committed to promoting the town too. It's so refreshing to see four innkeepers working so closely together.
There are something like 145 buildings on the historic district of Rockland, and four of them have been converted to lovely inns, with no two alike. I've now stayed twice at the Old Granite Inn (in the process of changing their name to Granite Inn, because the look is anything but "old"). Unlike many restored historic inns, the Granite Inn sports a very modern feel to it. Co-owned by a music professor (Ed) and a graphic designer (Joan), the rooms and common rooms have been totally converted from whitewashed walls and twin beds to fabulously bold colors, vessel sinks, granite counters and what I call "Ikeaesque" feel. It's clean, it's peaceful and it's a welcoming departure from a traditional B&B. Breakfasts are served in the welcoming dining room and are as hearty as they come. When I was there, I enjoyed a choice of two fabulous quiches, the inn's signature ginger scones, fresh fruit and yogurt, and a variety of juices, coffee and teas. It's all served buffet style, so you can help yourself to as much as you want. What a great way to start the day!
Located right across from the Rockland ferry terminal, the Granite Inn has a fabulously convenient location on Main Street. The views over the harbor are great. Last time I stayed, I was in room #5 and enjoyed watching the sun rise up over Rockland Harbor in the morning. No review of the Granite Inn is complete without mentioning the third innkeeper and stalwart welcoming committee, Zach, the mascot and inn dog. You can count on Zach greeting you on the front step as you arrive, and being the last to say goodbye. A final note -- the Granite Inn is dog- and kid-friendly too!
Moving up Main Street, the next historic inn is the Captain Lindsey House. Owned by Captains Ken and Ellen Barnes, both retired windjammer captains, the inn is filled with wonderful collection of furniture, paintings and artifacts from their travels throughout the world. In keeping with its owners, you'll find a nautical feel here, right down to the cozy dining room that feels much like one you'd find on an elegant yacht. A welcoming living room and a fabulous terrace mean there is plenty of common area to spread out in here. The overflowing window boxes conveniently just below the kitchen window bear the tomatoes and herbs that are likely to appear in wonderful egg dishes at breakfast. Be sure to ask Ken and Ellen about their colorful past; this is one special couple with an astounding background from child stars to blacksmiths, ship captains, artists and more.
The Berry Manor Inn is another historic inn in Rockand, capturing an elegant return to the Victorian era with just the right amount of grandeur. While true to its Victorian heritage, there are plenty of amenities here that attract modern travelers, from large flat screen TVs to multi-jet showers, whirlpool tubs, and private fireplaces. The Berry Manor Inn's signature pies -- served daily with plenty of ice cream in the freezer -- are a true treat. According to co-owner Cheryl Michaelsen, guests have been known to horde pieces of pie and sell them for $10 once the pies are gone. After discovering that, the Pie Moms (illustrious parents of Cheryl and co-owner Mike) simply made more pies, so there's always enough! You'll never go away hungry from Cheryl's breakfasts. The brown sugar French Toast Bake is to die for! Don't forget to ask Mike to don one of his famous hats. His collection is hilarious, and if you get the chance to take in Cheryl's Mom's birdcalls, you'll have had double luck! All in all, this is a wonderfully elegant yet casual-as-they-come place that's within easy walking distance to everything in Rockland
Last, but absolutely not least, the LimeRock Inn completes the Historic Inns of Rockland group. Here's an inn that has it all -- gracious innkeepers (PJ and Frank), comfortable and spacious rooms decorated in everything from Victorian to "Maine Cottage" style, gorgeous photography taken by PJ, and fabulous breakfasts offered by Frank who learned to cook in his Italian grandmother's kitchen. The LimeRock Inn is one place where you really must stop and smell the flowers. The gardens are fabulous -- both surrounding the wraparound porch and in the back surrounding the gazebo. The porch is filled with comfortable wicker funiture, making the perfect spot for reading the morning newspaper with a cup of steaming coffee or a great book. There's a small guest office with a computer and printer, so you'll always be able to stay in touch too, and a guest pantry filled with goodies 24-7.
All of the inns offer free wi-fi throughout the inn, and they're all Green Certified Environmental Leaders of Maine. I was amazed at the list of recycling and re-use programs at the inns. I learned on this trip that the LimeRock Inn saves all its food scraps for a local pig farmer to convert into food for the animals. The Historic Inns of Rockland were named among the top ten eco-friendly inns in the country by BedandBreakfast.com in 2008. For those who want the ideal spot for exploring Maine's Coast with eco-friendly inns that have not sacrificed luxury or the finest hospitality, the Historic Inns of Rockland make the ideal home base.