Add a personal touch to your visit by staying in a Northwest Florida bed and breakfast.
Smaller and more intimate than a hotel or resort, B&Bs are perfect for special occasions such as a honeymoon or romantic getaway, and they generally offer more personalized service. They are often run by the owners, who may also live there, and who are very knowledgeable about the area. They also allow you to mingle and get to know other guests at breakfast, over cocktails or in the communal areas such as living rooms, porches and gardens.
The first time I stayed in a B&B was in England, and I thought they were wonderful; great value, usually in the heart of where I wanted to be AND you got a huge cooked breakfast to start you on your day of hiking and sightseeing. The innkeepers also had recommendations on the best restaurants for lunch or dinner, and where to find off-the-beaten-path attractions.
The translation to American bed and breakfast inns has been that they usually are more expensive than a vacation rental, but about on par with a luxury hotel. However, the personal touch may be just what you need to feel pampered and special.
There aren’t a lot of Northwest Florida bed and breakfast inns, but there are some unique and interesting ones to choose from. You’ll find them more in the historic towns like Apalachicola and Pensacola, which makes them perfect base-camps for exploring and antiquing.
For these pages, I define a B&B as an historic home or a house built specifically for the purpose, having several bedrooms that have been individually or thematically decorated, with of course, breakfast included in the price.
These are my picks of interesting and fun places to stay, but I’m sure you’ll have some others that you like. If so contact me and let me know, or please feel free to post your pictures and reviews on our Facebook page.
80 6th Street, Apalachicola
There are several lovely B&Bs in Apalachicola in or near the downtown historic district, but the Coombs Inn & Suites (click here for more details) is probably the most well-known for its history, its personal service, and for its ghosts. Originally the Coombs House, built in 1905, was owned by wealthy businessman James N. Coombs. Today the inn, owned by Lynn Wilson and her husband Bill Spohrer, includes the Coombs House and two additional Victorian mansions, all sumptuously decorated with European antiques and offering both romantic charm and modern amenities. In addition to complimentary breakfast, bicycles, beach chairs and umbrellas are available to guests as well as daily Afternoon Tea and Cookies (3 to 5pm) and a glass of wine in the parlor (6 to 7 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Holidays). Reported to be haunted, ghosts are sometimes available at no extra charge.
203 W. Gregory Street, Pensacola
This carefully restored Queen Ann Victorian in the heart of Pensacola was once the elegant home of William Hazard Northup, a 19th Century sea captain and businessman who served as Mayor of the city from 1897 to 1898. Innkeepers Chuck and Barbee Major have filled the mansion with four-poster beds, rocking chairs and other period pieces that give it a “yester-year” feel but with modern conveniences. Within walking distance of the Pensacola historic district and its restaurants and attractions, the B&B features four different rooms each with private baths, and Barbee will serve you her fresh baked cake upon arrival.
85 Defuniak Street, Grayton Beach
Hibiscus Coffee and Guest House is an Old Florida Bed and Breakfast located in historic Grayton Beach in South Walton. The inn features 12 distinctly different rooms each filled with fun and funky décor that hearkens back to the days of white sidewall tires and pink flamingos, complete with chenille bedspreads and antique rattan furniture. A short walk from the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and Grayton Beach State Park, Hibiscus House also has its own coffee house/café where breakfast is served daily. The Backyard of Love hosts both private and community events that include weddings and music concerts, and local restaurants are within walking distance.
There are other interesting, elegant, romantic and fun bed and breakfast inns to be found. Check out the Hinson House in Marianna if you’re going spelunking at Florida Caverns State Park, or Highlands House Bed and Breakfast located just steps from the Gulf of Mexico in Santa Rosa Beach. Share your B&B experiences in the comments section below.