Charming. If I could pick only one word to describe Bar Harbor Inn, it would be charming, and the description would apply not only to the historic cedar-shingled Main Lodge, but also to the nicely appointed rooms, lavishly planted grounds, quaint Reading Room Restaurant, and to the wonderful staff.
Frankly, I was surprised that I could even get a room here. As usual I had been wandering, searching for colorful fall foliage, with no idea where I would stay for the night. I had rolled into Bar Harbor, Maine late in the afternoon and decided to stick around for a couple of days to hike the trails of stunning Acadia National Park. In the center of town, perched on a low rise overlooking Frenchman Bay, the Bar Harbor Inn was hard to miss. Although it looked pricey, I figured it couldn’t hurt to inquire about rates. Still, I hesitated after walking in the front door. Overstuffed sofas and armchairs flanked a roaring fire, and an antique sideboard offered hot tea and cider; undoubtedly this hotel would be beyond my means. To my delight, I learned that high season rates had ended the previous day and a non-view room was available for less than $100 per night. The manager even threw in free wi-fi.
Despite having only a peek-a-boo water view, my room was comfortable and well appointed, with a bed so soft that it literally enfolded me. Each of the 50 rooms and suites within the Main Lodge has either one king or two queen beds with premium bedding, luxury bathrooms with jetted tubs, cable TV with HBO, VCR, refrigerator, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, and coffeemaker. Many of the rooms have fireplaces and oceanfront balconies. An additional 64 rooms are available in the separate Oceanfront Lodge, which is also where the hotel’s amazing complimentary continental breakfast buffet is served each morning.
Even dinner was a special event. Though I arrived at the hotel’s Reading Room Restaurant without reservations, the maitre’d graciously escorted me to a well-lit table where I could read, and joined me during dessert to tell me a bit about the history of the hotel. The restaurant is named after the Mount Desert Reading Room, a social club that in 1887 was the first occupant of what is today the Main Lodge. Though the club’s avowed purpose may have been to “promote literary and social culture,” in the early 1920′s it served quite another purpose. As prohibition settled over the country, members began secreting bootleg alcohol at the club and the phrase “retiring to the reading room” became a euphemism for “getting together for a drink.”
The Bar Harbor Inn was a rare find: a hotel with accommodations that truly feel like a home away from home and a staff that has mastered the art of making guests feel like family. Absolutely charming.
Article by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels