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Casual Elegance at the William Henry Miller Inn

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Casual Elegance at the William Henry Miller Inn Courtesy William Henry Miller Inn

Quick Facts:

  • Address: 303 North Aurora Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
  • Phone: 877-256-4553
  • Rates: $165 to $250
  • Website

Check In:

Many bed and breakfasts lay claim to the concept, but The William Henry Miller Inn in Ithaca, New York embodies the theme of casual elegance.

The elegance comes from the building itself -- inside and out. Built in the Arts and Crafts style in the late 1800s by William Henry Miller (the man responsible for the architecture program at nearby Cornell University) the house has an abundance of rich chestnut wood panels, nooks, bannisters and bookshelves that are themselves a kind of architectural artwork. Authentic Tiffany stained-glass panels filter light throughout the inn, and a grand and gradual staircase leads up to spacious, well-appointed rooms.

The casual component comes in two parts. First, the furnishings in the double parlors are not only tasteful -- they’re actually comfortable as well. So much so that you’ll be eager to kick off your shoes and curl up on one of the comfy sofas with a book.

But what truly keeps the vibe casual at the William Henry Miller is the innkeeper herself, Lynette Scofield, who’s owned the inn since 1998. Despite being the caretaker of such an impressive house, Lynette is charmingly unpretentious, greeting you with a welcome that makes you feel like an old friend returning after a few months away. She’s a treasure trove of information about the area and an invaluable guide to Ithaca’s many fine restaurants -- several of which are just a short walk away.

The Beds:

Seven of the inn’s rooms can be found on the second and third floors of the main house and a two-room suite and additional guest room are situated in the carriage house.

All of these spacious rooms are impeccably decorated, creating the charm you expect from a bed and breakfast without any of the fusty clutter you’re likely eager to avoid. Queen- or king-sized beds and comfy reading chairs are covered in sumptuous fabrics. The often cavernous bathrooms are sparkling clean and well appointed; three have Jacuzzi tubs. All rooms feature cable TV, air conditioning, hand-ironed sheets, hair dryer, and CD player. The Library room also houses a gas-log fireplace. In the carriage house, dogs are welcome in The Garner Suite, while the Aurora room accommodates mobility-impaired visitors.

The Breakfast:

Breakfast is served in the dining room which features beautiful wooden corner cabinets, a wood-paneled fireplace, vivid stained glass window panes and a sleek Art Deco chandelier hanging over the main dining table which accommodates the bulk of guests. A separate two-person table is also available for a private start to the day. The first course consists of fruit, but don’t think of a humble sliced banana. You’ll get such treats as poached pear with mascarpone cream and fresh berries or chilled fruit soup topped with yogurt and mint fresh from the Inn’s garden.

For the main course, guests are always offered the choice between a sweet or savory dish like eggs scrambled with smoked salmon and dill, or oatmeal banana pancakes with warm syrup. All of these dishes are always accompanied by a breakfast meat and fresh inn-baked breads. If you’re lucky, there will also be homemade English muffins on the morning of your stay.

Check Out:

The included afternoon dessert buffet features an amazingly generous selection of cakes, cookies, pies and pastries that are refreshed every day. It makes for a perfect mid-day recharge on the front porch or a scrumptious dessert course when you return at night -- or both!

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