Whether visiting friends or celebrating another year with family, many central Illinoisans are planning their travels as the winter holiday season approaches. In preparing to hit the road, many decisions will be made, not the least of which includes finding a place to stay. Although highway hotels are numerous—and the family could always sleep in Grandma’s basement— a hybrid version of comfortable lodging is always a unique option: the bed and breakfast.
Combining the amenities of a hotel with a home-like atmosphere, a B&B offers friendly service and flexibility that cannot be matched by accommodations of a larger scale. Homemade breakfasts, fireside chats and romantic touches are a few of the personal amenities guests might enjoy during their stay. With thoughts of a restful holiday season in mind, we explored five local bed and breakfasts and their inviting personalities.
Built in 1869, this 35-room gem offers the perfect site for any type of event or a charming weekend stay. The details in this Bloomington mansion—painted ceilings, stained glass windows, original woodwork—take you back in time to an era of luxury and wealth. The mansion also boasts several pieces of history, including the original Lincoln Oak tree and a breakfast table at which dignitaries such as Adlai Stevenson and Eleanor Roosevelt dined with the Vrooman family. In fact, the mansion is included on the National Register of Historic Places; it served as a hospital during World War I, was a home for displaced veterans after WWII and housed the national president of the Daughters of the American Revolution for many years. With its historical personality in mind, Innkeeper Theora Stark shared that the mansion is first and foremost a community home, which means almost any individual or event hosting less than 100 people is welcome.
Although its versatility allows for anything from cooking classes to fashion shows, the mansion is still a popular place for a week-long stay. Choose between suites with private baths or single bedrooms with antique furniture. A four-course breakfast awaits you upon waking. Sip tea in the parlor, stroll the park-like grounds or take a bubble bath in a clawfoot tub. In the city, enjoy ample shopping opportunities, a zoo, recreational arenas and multiple landmarks, including the nearby David Davis Mansion. Nestled in a cultural mecca, this bed and breakfast is a treasure trove of preserved history.
701 E. Taylor Street
Bloomington, IL 61701
This Georgian Revival home built in Peoria’s first historic district may have an old-world charm, but the amenities—air conditioning, private baths and high-speed Internet—couldn’t be more modern. Candlelit meals, a library and garage parking make it easy to escape hectic everyday stress, and many claim a stay here offers the best night’s sleep they have had in years. Four rooms, one of which has its own sitting room, are outfitted with authentic antique furniture, plush bedding and marble dressers. Enjoy the open garden for a fragrant moment of peace. This B&B is unique in that children are only allowed by special permission.
Peoria’s only bed and breakfast, this establishment actually operates like a small hotel in that the owner’s family does not share the same spaces as guests, offering freedom. Only minutes from Peoria’s riverfront, the Terrace has prime access to shopping, dining and entertainment, as well as Bradley University and area hospitals. Open for more than seven years, owner Kia Vega said the home’s 23 rooms were completely restored in 1999 in order to make the space historically accurate. This B&B’s experience, says Vega, is an elegant escape different from any place you might have visited before.
209 W. Columbia Terrace
Peoria, IL 61606
Mission Oak Inn
Located in Henry, the Mission Oak Inn is a newly built mission-style retreat created with romance and relaxation in mind. Rich oak paneling, supple leather recliners and soft lighting create a lovely ambience in each of the two suites—The Bird Lover’s Suite and The Lodge Suite. An outdoorsman’s dream, the Inn sits atop 120 acres, including a private seven-acre, stocked lake, and is surrounded by the peaceful presence of deer, fox, coyote, wild turkey and other birds. The in-house chef prepares everything from homemade pizza or shrimp in a wine cream sauce to your own catch of the day.
Special packages and add-ons of chocolate and in-room massages are available for romantic rendezvous, and private balconies and entrances enhance the quiet isolation of your stay. Satellite television, a microwave and a refrigerator in each room entice guests to snuggle on the loveseat for as long as they wish. The Inn also houses a gift shop featuring innkeeper Denny Reed’s custom-designed and built furniture (also showcased in the bedrooms). The inn represents a dream brought to life for Denny and his wife Jan Reed, who enjoy taking care of duties in the kitchen, office and garden. Nearby golfing, antique shopping, local museums and activities on the Illinois River provide plenty to do. Two-sided fireplaces, private whirlpool tubs and serene wildlife make this getaway a must!
Mission Oak Inn
1108 Country Road 930E
Henry, IL 61537
Indian Creek Vineyard Bed & Breakfast
Open for six years, the Toulon B&B located in the 1853 Chateau home boasts a site reminiscent of Napa Valley. Enjoy dinner on the veranda overlooking the sunset, tour Stark County’s first vineyard and indulge in fine wine in the property’s Old Red Barn, a wine and retail shop. Inside the home, one bedroom holds a piece of history—
Abraham Lincoln stopped to rest at the home during a campaign tour of Illinois, and the chair he occupied still sits in what is now called the Lincoln Room. Two other bedrooms include small libraries, soft lighting and comfortable seating in addition to colonial beds. A lower level suite is ideal for larger parties or longer stays; the Whine Cellar includes a spacious living room, easy accessibility directly off of the drive and private full bath. The bedroom in the Cellar opens onto a cozy patio. Although some of the rooms share a bath, this B&B is slightly more affordably priced.
Amenities such as a hot tub, garden pavilion and wireless Internet only enhance this B&B’s experience. Choose from a variety of trails for walking or biking for time spent outdoors, or visit local shops or entertainment venues for a night on the town. Although located in a small community, Owner Fred Sams says guests rave about the nearby Connie’s Country Kitchen. Bishop Hill, a Swedish community more than 200 years old, is a historical gem for many visitors. Offering beautiful views and a peaceful atmosphere, this B&B offers a small-town escape.
Indian Creek Vineyard Bed and Breakfast
Rural Route #2 Box 133
Toulon, IL 61483
Inselhaus Bed & Breakfast
One of the finest turn-of-the-century homes in the Macomb area, the Inselhaus B&B offers pristine private baths in each room, designer-quality down bedding and a key to the front door for each guest. An espresso station in the upstairs hallway is perfect for those who wake before breakfast, and a supply of daily newspapers and magazines offers casual reading. Air conditioning, luxurious bathrobes and televisions elevate each room to posh hotel status. Whether eating breakfast in bed or a multiple-course meal in the breakfast room, this B&B takes its label seriously.
Owner Dorothee Gossel grew up in her family’s bed and breakfast on an island in the Baltic Sea of Germany. She is flexible with check-in times and diet preferences and, for a little added romance, will even sprinkle rose petals on your bed sheets before you arrive. Gossel’s friendly welcome often extends to a glass of wine by the fireplace. The walls of the home serve as an art gallery for local artisans, and the paintings and a jewelry case make for a nontraditional gift shop. Inselhaus was completely renovated before it opened, but several original pieces, including fireplaces and some furniture, were retained. The B&B opened four years ago and has since welcomed many Peorians as well as guests from around the world. Inselhaus, which stands for Island House, is truly an oasis for relaxation and comfort.
Inselhaus Bed and Breakfast
538 N. Randolph St.
Macomb, IL 61455