Hawthorn Bed and Breakfast, Independence

Beautifully constructed of Missouri limestone, Hawthorn Bed and Breakfast sits regally on two acres located near historic Independence Square. It’s an easy ten-minute drive to downtown Kansas City and Kaufmann and Arrowhead Stadiums.

Owners Jim and Wendy Allen warmly greeted my husband and I upon check-in and showed us around the 8,500-square-foot mansion.

Built in 1900 by John A. Gallagher as the family’s country home, it features hand-painted murals in the music room and two staircases—one for the family and the other for servants. The original ten-acre estate included a barn, pastures, livestock and numerous Hawthorn trees that inspired its name. The Gallaghers raised four children here, and Florence held socials for notable Independence women’s groups. After John’s death in 1923, she sold the property. Eventually, the mansion was used by the Westminster Presbyterian Church for 40 years.

After a restoration in 2000, Hawthorn opened as a bed and breakfast. Period furnishings, wicker on the cheery sunroom and wrought iron on the front terrace completed the renovation. Rooms were named in recognition of past owners.

In 2006, the Allens purchased Hawthorn. As avid travelers, they had stayed at B&Bs across the U.S and Europe. They added a $250 million expansion with a professional kitchen and owner’s quarters in order to “totally surrender the mansion to our guests.” The third floor Bibler Suite, their former living quarters, still contains personal items such as Jim’s father’s favorite chair.

“While we raised our children, I worked in human resources for 30 years. But I’d always wanted to run my own business,” says Jim. “It was Wendy’s desire to own an older home, so we fulfilled both of our dreams when we acquired Hawthorn.”

Wendy lends her green thumb and creativity to the lovely landscaping and the many events held on site. Jim happily relies on his hotel and restaurant management background and passion for cooking that began as a boy when he learned to cook alongside his mother.

For breakfast, small tables in the dining room and sunroom offer privacy and individual service. Jim’s three-course breakfast starts with a choice of six juices and seasonal fresh fruit topped with yogurt and granola. Next, the couple serves Jim’s raspberry muffins—a closely guarded secret recipe. Entrées change daily and, during our stay, cheese and sautéed vegetable omelets came with sausage and Jim’s seasoned potatoes like his mother cooked on the farm.

Guests often return several times throughout the year for Royals and Chief’s games and other happenings. Hawthorn hosts about two dozen weddings annually, plus parties, teas and numerous luncheons and dinners for up to 40 people. At the holidays, Wendy lavishly decorates the house and guest rooms, including 18 Christmas trees, a nod to her New England roots.

Visit HawthornBB.com for more information.

Napoleon's Retreat, St. Louis

Minutes from the St. Louis Arch, Napoleon’s Retreat offers the perfect getaway in the National Historic District of Lafayette.

Just down the street, picturesque Lafayette Park is surrounded on all four sides by the nation’s largest collection of Victorian-era homes. The park’s tall, black iron fence and surrounding painted ladies, is reminiscent of a scene straight out of Mary Poppins.

Within three blocks of the bed and breakfast, guests can choose from eight restaurants. Square One microbrewery sports a lovely, outdoor patio. Upscale 1111 Mississippi makes the perfect choice for special occasions. And Bailey’s Chocolate Bar has been rated one of the nation’s top ten dessert places by USA Today.

Owners Brian and Stacy Kistler bought the home in 2011 after relocating from Wisconsin ten years ago for Brian’s engineering job. When they were ready to buy, Stacy was driving to a business lunch and saw the “For Sale” sign in the yard. That evening, she talked to Brian about purchasing the property.

“Our first bed and breakfast experience was on our honeymoon in Ireland, and we loved it and talked about eventually owning one,” says Stacy, a former contract negotiator for consumer products. “Ironically, six years before we bought the inn, we actually stayed here in the Napoleon room for a week while we explored St. Louis.”

As the third owners, the Kistlers have remodeled most of this 1880s home. Sumptuous period furniture and antiques, high-quality linens and ultra-modern bathrooms make it a show-stopper. Among the contemporary conveniences added were flat screen televisions, on-demand cable and high-speed wireless internet.

Upon arrival, guests can enjoy complimentary, local beer on tap. In the morning, breakfast becomes a gourmet adventure. Stacey constantly looks for innovative recipes and buys her spices at the Soulard Farmers Market. She served my husband and I an egg roulade (egg roll up) filled with oven roasted tomatoes, bacon and gruyere cheese—so savory and beautifully presented that I asked for the recipe and served it this past Christmas morning. The accompanying chocolate strawberry shortcake also looked straight out of a photo shoot. Fresh fruit, juices, house-blend coffee and an assortment of teas are standard. Special dietary needs can be accommodated with 72-hours notice.

For additional pampering, Napoleon’s Retreat partners with MorganFord Salon & Spa to offer in-room massages. Stacy can arrange for a “welcome” bottle of wine or champagne, even a cupcake bouquet. For that ultimate celebration, a dozen roses, chilled champagne and chocolate truffles can be waiting in the room for $99.

“I remember the notable bed and breakfasts that we’ve stayed in, down to the details of what we ate,” says Stacy. “And I want Napoleon’s Retreat to be equally memorable to our guests.”

NapleonsRetreat.com for more information.

Clear Creek Bed & Breakfast, Nevada

Across the nation, bed and breakfast establishments are Going Blue, and on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (January 9) some innkeepers will offer free nights to law enforcement officers and their families.

Summer Fogle, owner of Clear Creek Bed and Breakfast started the program last year with nearly 40 inns from Alaska to New York state joining her efforts. B&Bs Going Blue’s Facebook page highlights those establishments that offer the program.

Some, like Clear Creek, offer several opportunities for complimentary nights. Clear Creek opens its doors January 8-10 for one couple or family per night to enjoy this perk. The Fogle’s two boys make something special for breakfast.

“My husband, Justin, was the inspiration behind the idea,” says Summer. “He’s a conservation agent and works closely with local police and the sheriff’s department. Especially because of the last several years, we wanted to honor law enforcement and their families for their sacrifice to our communities.” said Summer. “For the entire month of January we offer a 50 percent discount and, year-round, we offer a smaller discount to law enforcement.”

In the fall of 2015, the Fogles began hosting guests in their lodge-style bed and breakfast that lies adjacent to their home. Situated on 100 acres of farmland halfway between Kansas City and Joplin, Clear Creek focuses on the outdoors. Two black labs named Haley and Annie greet guests. Several hens and a rooster run free and cattle graze in the pasture. Guests enjoy catch-and-release fishing for bass and catfish in the two-acre lake, along with nature walks, wildlife viewing and walking paths. At nearby Four Rivers and Schell Osage Conservation Areas, hunting is terrific and guests can field dress on the Fogle’s property.

The bed and breakfast overlooks the small lake, and guests can enjoy a full kitchen, gas fireplace, outdoor grill and washer/dryer. The spacious, master bedroom sleeps up to six with a queen bed and custom, queen bunk beds. Rockers on the screened, front porch invite morning coffee and, in the evening, guests can relax by the fire pit next to the lake.

“We provide complimentary coffee and a continental breakfast with freshly-baked muffins, fruit, juices and cereals, all stocked in the refrigerator when guests arrive,” says Summer. “One family from Kansas City told us that we’re their new, summer gathering place.”

Inn at Clover Hill, Sumner

Inn at Clover Hill offers the chance to stay on a working farm—a rarity among bed and breakfasts today. Guests certainly aren’t obligated, but part of the fun is participating in farm chores.

Owner Fred Carpenter, a former banker with an animal science degree from the University of Missouri, and his wife, Sherene, still run cattle and raise row crops on their 700 acres.

Guests can hop on the gator and tour the farm, help feed the sheep and cattle, check the cows and gather eggs. (I did all but gather eggs because a fox had killed the chickens several weeks prior. Fred assured me they’d have new chicks soon.) For the breakfast table, guests can pick blackberries, peaches, apples, pears and strawberries in season. Sherene loves to bake, and breakfast might include a fresh peach tart or blackberry cobbler and homemade jams.

“We have gentle livestock that people can get close to,” says Fred. “We like to give property tours so that people can see the windmill, spring-fed wells and gardens.”

Located between Chillicothe and Marceline, Fred’s uncle originally owned the acreage and built the 1937 farmhouse. Fred was raised a quarter-mile down the road and helped on the farm. He bought it after his uncle passed away. When the Carpenters moved in, they converted the oil and steam heat to gas, added rooms and, eventually, remodeled the entire house. Decorated in an eclectic style with handmade quilts, the inn is comfortable and unpretentious, yet completely modern. Guests have access to the barbeque grill, large freezer and refrigerator.

“When our daughter got married in California, our family fell in love with the Sonoma bed and breakfast that we stayed in,” explains Fred. “Since there weren’t any other B&B’s in our area in 2009, we decided to turn our home into one.”

Early May through frost, 800 impatiens edge the sidewalk leading to the front door. They bloom in pinks, peaches and white—perfect for the 30-plus weddings that take place on the property each year. The adjacent Carriage House, the inspiration of Fred’s first wife who passed away from cancer, sleeps up to 10. It includes a commercial kitchen, a large courtyard with speaker system, gardens and tables and chairs for 70 to 300 people. A tent can be set up for additional seating.

Guests enjoy visiting Marceline, Walt Disney’s hometown, shopping for antiques or exploring Jamesport’s Amish community. Near the end of December through February, approximately 100 eagles spend the day on the Carpenter’s farm, literally, perched in the trees before roosting each night at a nearby conservation area.

InnAtCloverHill.com for more information.

Village of the Blue Rose, Clarksville

A lofty vision has created a unique experience at the Village of the Blue Rose.

Opened as a non-profit to support a small community of special education adults, the bed and breakfast allows its residents to work and make a living serving their guests.

Perched on a hillside with panoramic views of the Mississippi River, the 60-acre property lies between Hannibal and St. Louis. Buildings house six men and women who live on site and range in age from 30 to 50 years old. Guests can shop in the red barn filled with antiques, mainly glassware and small collectibles, and a tiny flea market stocked by donations with contemporary items.

Rose Gronemeyer, a retired special ed teacher from Sacred Heart School in St. Louis, helped mastermind the non-profit and oversees the village. The residents who run the bed and breakfast also participate in sports, dances and various activities in the surrounding community.

“When I was teaching, some parents would ask me, ‘What’s going to happen to my child once their education is complete?’” explains Rose. “So we began raising funds and eventually built the village.”

The main lodge’s three rooms include apartment-style accommodations on the lower level where my husband and I stayed. We had access to the common area with floor-to-ceiling windows, a burning fireplace, TV and DVD player plus a mini fridge, sink and microwave. It’s a perfect spot for families. On the main level, there’s a handicap-accessible bedroom and The Lodge restaurant. Upstairs, a spacious, loft-style room features a sitting area with terrific views. Outside the lodge, a fire pit, porches and pavilion are an added bonus.

The restaurant opens for lunch Wednesday through Sunday; dinner is served Friday and Saturday nights. Menus on each table allow diners to check off their choices. Residents take orders back to the kitchen, fill drinks and make sure customers are happy. Prime rib is always popular for dinner, potato cheese soup is a longstanding house specialty, and there’s a daily special or two.

“People appreciate this peaceful place and the kindness of the residents who live and work here,” says Rose. “It’s a bonus that we have such a beautiful location. Our overnight guests can sit around the outdoor fire pit and enjoy watching the barges that travel the river.”

Several annual fundraisers support this non-profit community. During eagle viewing season in January, “Soup and Chili Days” features homemade soups and desserts for a donation. In April, there’s a fundraiser trivia night, and a dinner auction takes place in March in Wentzville. In September, “The Village Country Picnic” makes a fun family outing with pony rides, discounts on antiques, a silent auction and more. The Lodge serves barbequed pulled pork, hot dogs, grilled chicken and all the fixings.

Visit VillageOfTheBlueRose for more information.