Nice (Lake County), California
Innkeeper Peggy Barthel and her husband Tony operate a unique bed and breakfast: Featherbed Railroad B&B consists of nine railroad cabooses. The Barthels love welcoming guests from around the world to their themed accommodations: La Loose Caboose, Casablanca, Rosebud, Easy Rider, Mint Julep, and more.
"Our favorite part of this business is the morning communal breakfast experience where guests share their tips for a wonderful stay and bring their life experience to the tables," Peggy says. "While many plan to just 'eat and run,' it is not uncommon for guests to stick around and while away half the day sharing stories, anecdotes and tips."
Located in Lake County, California -- on the shores of Clear Lake, California's largest freshwater lake -- Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast is about two and a half hours north of San Francisco and about two and a half hours northwest of Sacramento.
Peggy answered a few questions for us about Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast and life as an innkeeper.
Please tell us a little about your inn's history.
The Featherbed Railroad was the vision of the Bassignani family, who were convinced they could turn an old "glamping" (glamorous camping) resort into something truly unique. After some research and a lot of crane and truck activity, nine cabooses were assembled in a park-like setting. The family then completely gutted the cabooses and refurbished them with unique themes.
What are some of the unique features at Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast?
Each room is a railroad caboose which has been decorated with a unique theme. For example, there are Casablanca, a tribute to the movie complete with piano; Easy Rider, a tribute to motorcycles and the open road with handlebars on the headboard; the Wild Wild West, a western-themed room; and even La Loose Caboose, styled after a New Orleans bordello.
There are also more conservative themes such as Lover's and Rosebud. Of the nine cabooses, seven of them feature in-room, two-person Jacuzzi tubs and all nine have individual climate control systems, in-room cable television, refrigerators and coffee machines.
Since each room is a free-standing building made of steel, they are very private. We get a lot of folks looking to celebrate romantic occasions such as honeymoons, anniversaries, and even just "the weekend without the kids."
How do you make a stay at Featherbed Railroad B&B special?
We can act as a personal concierge for our guests, assessing their travel needs and coordinating various recreational activities for them. We can get them inside tours to some of the 23 local wineries, arrange for biplane rides over the lake and set-up romantic two-person boat rides into our local lake just for starters.
With 22 years in the event planning industry, Tony can really take someone's vacation beyond the ordinary if they choose. But, since the cabooses are free-standing rooms, there are also plenty of opportunities to get away from everyone and just relax in a very quiet room.
What are some of the attractions in your area that guests seem to enjoy the most?
There are 23 local wineries within an hour's drive, incredible bass fishing (as featured annually on ESPN), a tremendous agritourism opportunity, and somewhat rural surroundings. Since we're only a quarter-tank of gas away from San Francisco and Sacramento, many guests come to our region to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
What might a guest expect to have at a "typical" breakfast at Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast?
Start with in-season locally-grown fruit and coffee roasted from organic, fair-trade beans (it's great coffee!). Then there are wonderful quiches with sauces prepared by our cook (that's Tony!). We also have a very unique twist on eggs benedict with a sun-dried tomato and cream sauce.
And there's always dessert which is often in-season, locally-grown strawberries or even the famous Featherbed Mini Cheesecakes.
Which is your personal favorite room at your bed and breakfast?
Tony and I have differing views.
I like the Orient Express for the beauty of the wood used to finish the interior and its lake-front private deck. There is also a second-story cupola, which is a perfect spot for enjoying morning coffee while watching all the local birds start their days.
Tony's favorite is Wild Wild West, as this is the first room he stayed in. It features an antique clawfoot tub and is also beautifully finished inside complete with a bar and memorabilia from days gone by.