ESSENCE – The Inn Crowd
Plan the perfect weekend getaway at one of these Black-owned bed-and-breakfasts
By Rachel Jones
When most people visualize a bed-and-breakfast, the word quaint comes to mind, complete with images of a front-porch swing, polished antique cupboards and cheese grits simmering on the stove. For those seeking a peaceful escape, or travelers tired of impersonal chain hotels, the bed-and-breakfast inn is an intriguing blend of comfort and elegance. At a B&B, guest can enjoy genteel surroundings at properties that usually have no more than ten rooms and at a price that typically includes a full-breakfast service and an afternoon tea or a happy hour.
These days the bed-and-breakfast experience is becoming as diverse as the people who own them. We found five African-American-owned inns, opened in the last four years, that offer a range of attractions, from sun and sand on Martha’s Vineyard to a sophisticated literary escape in the nation’s capital. The owners say African-Americans seek out their inns because there’s a welcoming vibe that extends beyond the food or the Afrocentric touches. For many guests, it’s their first time sampling the B&B experience, and they say they feel right at home.
Rooms at the Inn
Five bed-and-breakfast inns where you’ll find gracious hospitality:
1708 16th St., N.W.
Washington DC 20009
866-466-3855 (toll-free); Akwaaba.com
Atmosphere: Owner Monique Greenwood calls her D.C inn a “literary-themed haven”. The beautifully decorated rooms in this stately nineteenth-century row house instantly evoke the spirit of famous Black authors, including Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, Octavia E. Butler and Walter Mosely. (Our favorite is the Zora Neal Hurston Suite, pictured on the following page.) Greenwood has skillfully mixed gorgeous antiques, bargains from Ikea and vibrant African bric-a-brac to create an atmosphere both refined and cozy. The literary angle attracts book lovers and book clubs, and a basement suite is available to writers who are completing book projects.
Meals: Akwaaba’s full breakfast ranges from chicken and waffles to biscuits and salmon cakes to heart-healthy turkey bacon-nothing too fancy, but culturally familiar.
Attractions: The location, near the famed Dupont Circle and U Street neighborhoods, is within walking distance of the national headquarters of Delta Sigma Theta, Jack & Jill of America and the National Baptist Convention. Howard University is also nearby. U Street offers the legendary Lincoln Theatre and numerous Black-owned shops and restaurants.
Room Rates: From $150 to $190 a night.
Discover Comfort with Class Exploring Inns of Color
Brought to You by: Mercury
After a hard week of work, you deserve a weekend getaway – a time to open new doors and discover new ways to reward yourself. Traveling in an all-new Mercury Mariner with its sophisticated styling and enjoyable ride is the perfect way to discover America’s diverse bed-and-breakfast inns. Just settle into the comfort of this SUV and transport yourself to a world that pampers you like royalty while maintaining all the warmth of home. These African-American owned B&Bs offer elegant accommodations, mouthwatering cuisine and old-world charm. With a wide variety of getaway packages, these inns are the ideal destination for a rejuvenating road trip or a romantic weekend.
Akwaaba by the Sea
West Cape May, New Jersey
The very name of this bed and breakfast graciously invites you to stay. Akwaaba means “welcome” in a language spoken in Ghana, West Africa. From the moment you step into this charming 1850s Victorian, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back to a simpler, more leisurely time. Each guest room is named after a prominent African-American from Cape May and furnished with Victorian antiques blended with a fine collection of African artifacts. Begin your day with a scrumptious southern breakfast (we’re talking good stuff like crab cakes, cornbread and cheese grits). Then head out to explore scenic Cape May, America’s oldest seaside resort. The beach, quaint shops and four-star restaurants are only a few blocks away.
Win a Weekend Getaway of Discovery & Comfort!
Visit www.Essence.com and enter the Comfort with Class Sweepstakes for a chance to win: A gift certificate to a featured bed-and-breakfast for a fabulous weekend stay and the use of an all-new 2005 Mercury Mariner SUV, to complement your stay.