Featherbed Railroad B&B

I Choo-Choo Choose You

Featherbed Railroad B&B - Nice, California

Going off the rails is usually considered a bad thing – unless you’re staying in one of the Featherbed Railroad B&B’s nine vintage-cabooses-turned-ensuite accommodations. All have unique themes and hot tubs; there’s “Wine Country,” “La Loose Caboose” (New Orleans) and “Casablanca,” with its replica of the “Play it Again, Sam” upright piano from Rick's Café and a Bogie coat/hat combo. Oh yeah, and more than a few guests have been rendered pale by a ghost – a former railroad worker in striped pajamas – in the “Celebration Caboose.”

Train cars sit next to California’s Clear Lake in a parklike setting with a pool, and there’s a private dock from which guests can push off in search of catfish or massive bass. Breakfasts feature locally sourced ingredients, including homemade sausage and pears picked from the property — a perfect belly filler before fishing, hiking or sipping Sauvignon Blanc at dozens of nearby wineries.




3rd Street BnB

I’m In

3rd Street BnB - Mukilteo, Washington

Some people have a higher calling. A decade-plus mission in the making, 3rd Street BnB is a 1907-built Presbyterian church resurrected as a three-suite inn. Co-owner Brent Yeadon’s sturdy carpentry and metalwork transformed the church into a stunning modern lodging, but the imposing cross atop its steeple is a dead giveaway to a past life. Other holy reminders include a foyer decorated with crosses, a dangling rope still used to ring the church bell and stained-glass window accents. There’s more: A Sunday breakfast is served in the original sanctuary, where parishioners in the lovely Puget Sound town of Mukilteo once bowed their heads. All suites have reverential views of the wet Northern Washington landscape, and visitors are a quick ferry ride from Whidbey Island and 25 miles north of Seattle. That "I'm in!" sounds like "amen" is no mere coincidence.




Publishing House Bed and Breakfast

In the Spirit Of

Publishing House B&B - Chicago, Illinois

In 1909, in Chicago’s now-happening West Loop neighborhood, the Free Methodist Publishing House was “formally dedicated in the service of our Lord,” i.e., as a “source for literary products and general Christian influence.”* Fast forward to 2017, when it was rededicated as the Publishing House B&B, in the service of the upscale Chicago traveler. (In between, it was a casket factory/showroom and the Museum of Holography, but not at the same time.) The 11-suite building features plenty of exposed brick and steel, original wood floors topped by Oriental carpets and walls punctuated by the occasional ram head.

We usually don’t rave about bathrooms, but the colorful arabesque tiling in some and cavernous shower stalls in others are unashamedly photogenic. The impressive design continues in the public area: With its gray stone fireplace, statement art and Mid-century Modern furnishings, it looks like something ripped out of the pages of Architectural Digest.




Berkshire's Chambery Inn

Hot for Teacher

Chambery Inn - Lee, Massachusetts

Built in 1885 as St. Mary’s, a Berkshires parochial school commanded by French nuns, the Chambery Inn was in the 1980s a likely “candidate for wrecker’s ball," as one headline ominously intoned. Instead, a local Massachusetts businessman swooped in, arranged for the structure to be moved a block … and life continued as a French-style country inn. School-day reminders are prominent and interactive: Alongside the four-poster beds, gas fireplaces and period details are original slate blackboards, where nails once scratched and guests now leave words of thanks rather than Latin conjugations. Those venturing outside the classroom will find everything the verdant Berkshires have to offer, including the Norman Rockwell museum, antique shops and plenty of farm-to-table dining.




Jail Hill Inn

Spend the Night in Jail

Jail Hill Inn - Galena, Illinois

In the late 1800s, spending a night in one of Jo Daviess County Jail’s 5’x8’ cells would have been as pleasant as getting a root canal. These days, the four-story brick building’s hard cots, bars and burly roommates prone to staring have been replaced with king-size beds, bubble massage tubs and wet bars at Jail Hill Inn. Notable original elements include the unique “brick archway” second-floor ceiling, built specifically to support the heavy iron beams and floor-plating of the third-floor jail.

You can work out (sit and drink wine) in the yard (lovely back deck) after escaping the 24-inch-thick walls to explore Galena’s 19th-century downtown, nearby fall colors or the Ulysses S. Grant home. With a welcome wine and cheese reception, in-room champagne and a three-course breakfast that would satisfy any death row inmate’s last meal request, the building’s former inhabitants never had it this good.




Monte Cristo Bed and Breakfast

There Is a House in San Fran

Monte Cristo Bed & Breakfast Hotel - San Francisco, California

In San Francisco’s Victorian-mansion-lined Pacific Heights neighborhood sits one of the city’s longest operating “hospitality” structures. Originally built as a bordello and saloon — the latter is how an 1898 phone book euphemistically lists it — the Monte Cristo Bed & Breakfast Hotel has a story or two to tell, including the time it temporarily housed those made homeless by the 1906 earthquake. Historic reminders remain: Look up through the skylight in the common area and you’ll see the building’s original sign from before its 1912 expansion. High-ceilinged rooms feature floral period wallpaper, antiques and Persian rugs that give way to hardwood floors. These days, you may have to leave your room for a really good time, but that’s not difficult — the central location means you’re just a hilly walk or drive from all of the Fog City’s charms.




Camp Comfort B&B

Sparing No Expense

Camp Comfort B&B - Comfort, Texas

Once a social club in Comfort, Texas — a 19th-century Hill Country town that would make a postcard jealous — the space was reborn in 2014 as Camp Comfort B&B. The compound features five separate cabins and four suites hewn from the club’s 120-year-old bowling alley, where resident pin-kids once manually restored order after each frame. During the 2013 upcycle, wood from the original structures took on new life as reclaimed furniture, with the maple lane becoming a striking built-in desk in each room. The original social hall, where breakfast and cookies are served, was restored to its 1860 splendor, with painted wood floors and beaded walls graced by photos of the original townsfolk. Rooms boast luxe touches the German founders would have never imagined, like jetted tubs and Tivoli radios.

Outside, fire pits, tree-stump side tables and orange Adirondack chairs provide the ultimate setting for, well, setting. If you do choose to get off your stump, Hill Country boasts several wineries, historic towns and outdoor activities.




—by Dan Askin