Inn-credible deals

Posted on 18 Dec 2008 at 11:16am
By Andrew Collins Contributing Travel Writer

There are many B&B bargains in the Northeast for off-season travelers


P-Town’s Somerset House offers relaxation and affordable off-season rates.

The Northeast has become increasingly abundant with gay-popular inns in recent years, even in small, rural towns. You may not find lesbian and gay bars or myriad cultural offerings in the country hamlets of Vermont or Maine, but you can find an irresistibly romantic setting.

Here’s a sampling of four romantic and memorable inns in the Northeast, all perfectly charming and inviting stay at very affordable rates.

Taylor House B&B, Boston
Boston has among the highest lodging rates in North America, so finding a romantic, gorgeously furnished inn with rates for doubles starting around $160 is no small accomplishment. Sure, there are even cheaper inns and chain motels in the area, but this Italianate Victorian bed-and-breakfast oozes charm and character.

The inn, run by partners Dave Elliott and Daryl Bichel (along with two very friendly golden retrievers), is on a quiet side street in the lesbian-chic Jamaica Plain neighborhood; it’s just steps from several funky cafes and shops, and an easy bus or subway ride from the rest of Boston. The 1855 structure is one of the great old mansions of Jamaica Plain’s heyday — one room has a decorative fireplace, and all have queen-size sleigh beds.

Somerset House Inn, Provincetown, Mass.
New England’s favorite gay playground, P’town can be pricey come summer, when the place buzzes with vacationers.

One queer-popular resort where you can find downright chic rooms for just $150 during the high season is Somerset House, which has three snug but perfectly charming units starting at this rate. Off-season, rates sink as low as $75 nightly, and even the inn’s fanciest accommodations run for under $150 (consider staying in Room 5, where you can enjoy your own Jacuzzi tub, gas fireplace and expansive bay views). Each room at this whimsically decorated property has high-speed Internet access, phones with voicemail, CD player/clock radios, mini-refrigerators and DVD players.

Journey Inn B&B, Hyde Park, N.Y.
Plenty of gay travelers fed up with crowds, traffic and high costs have begun avoiding the Hamptons and even Fire Island in recent years, and instead vacationing in the mellower Hudson River Valley, an hour or two north of New York City.

A favorite accommodation in these parts is the Journey Inn B&B, which makes an idyllic base for exploring this scenic, cultured region. The gay-friendly inn lies just across from the Vanderbilt Mansion and close to both the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library and the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site.

The six smartly appointed guest rooms boast decorative themes based on such far-flung places as Mombasa, Kyoto and Tuscany. The least expensive unit, the Roosevelt Room, has a pair of twin beds (a comment on Eleanor and Franklin’s married life, perhaps?) and costs $130 per night; all rooms have private baths, some en-suite and some reached through the hallway.

Another advantage to staying in Hyde Park: you can dine at one of the three well-priced restaurants operated by the Culinary Institute of America, which is just down the road.

Cordials, New Hope, Penn.
In the heart of New Hope, one of the Northeast’s most gay-popular small towns, Cordials draws a predominantly gay and lesbian clientele but welcomes everybody.

The contemporary white house contains six guest rooms, all of them immaculately kept with modern furnishings — the look is more functional than quaint, but accommodations are comfortable and reasonably priced (starting at $85 on weekdays, $140 on weekends) — they also come with fresh flowers, snacks and crystal stemware.

This is a great choice for social butterflies who want to be close to New Hope’s lively nightlife. The town’s many antiques shops and quirky boutiques are just a short drive away.

Useful amenities include a spacious deck overlooking a flower-filled yard. And you can get to know the other guests during a wine-and-cheese social held on Friday and Saturday afternoons.



Travel diary

Texas company plans gay cruises for 2009; Big D a gay traveler fave


It’s cold outside right now — which may make it the best time to turn your thoughts to the warmth of fun in the sun when many gay travelers emerge from hibernation and are ready to work on their tans again. And a cruise could be the perfect tonic.

Houston-based Aquafest Cruises, a gay travel company within the larger CruiseCenter corporation, was launched seven years ago by founder Tom Baker to serve the GLBT community with themed cruises.

Unlike gay-exclusive cruises where entire liners are devoted to queer travelers only, Aquafest books large blocks of rooms for its gay clientele aboard "mixed" cruises. But Baker insists that the system works well, with many gay-specific amenities and activities and acceptance all around. It also means that Aquafest cruises host a mix (about 70/30) of gay men and lesbians.

The fact it’s not an all-gay charter translates into a more affordable vacation, according to Aquafest.

Three cruises are scheduled for 2009: The first, the seventh annual Mardi Gras cruise, takes place over Valentine’s Day, from Feb. 12–22 on MSC Cruise Lines with drag diva Hedda Lettuce serving as mistress of ceremonies and super hottie musician Eric Himan the headlining artist. The round-trip leaves from Fort Lauderdale, proceeding through Caribbean ports of San Juan, Antigua and Tortola.

Rates start at $749 per person.

In the fall are two cruises with new destinations. The Alaska cruise aboard Holland America proceeds as far north as Glacier Bay before hitting Victoria, B.C., on its way back to the home base of Seattle. The seven-night tour leaves Sept. 25. Rates start at $544 per person.

A month later, on Oct. 25, is another week-long cruise — just in time for Halloween. This tour of the Western Caribbean leaves Tampa for Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Belize on Carnival’s Legend ship, and includes a costume party, as well as the return of Hedda Lettuce and Eric Himan, plus DJ JST spinning. Rates start at $621 per person.

Dallas’ profile as a gay entertainment destination has grown to a top-10 favorite in recent years.  And business travelers feel the same way.

In a recent study, Dallas ranked the seventh most popular destination for gay business travelers; Chicago was No. 1, while San Francisco placed fifth.

-A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 19, 2008.

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