Video: Recreating A Medieval Inn

Recently we reported on the discovery of King Richard III’s remains at a grave in Leicester, England. Now historians have recreated the medieval inn where he stayed the night before being killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The Blue Boar Inn was the new, posh place to stay in late-15th-century Leicester, and so it was a natural choice for the king to rest there before facing his enemy Henry Tudor in the decisive battle of the War of the Roses.

The Guardian reports on several legends related to the inn, including that it was originally called the White Boar Inn. White boars were featured on Richard III’s coat of arms, as shown below in this Wikimedia Commons image. When the owner of the inn heard that Richard had fallen in battle and Henry Tudor had won the day, he quickly painted the boar on his sign blue and renamed the inn. Another story relates that a bag of gold was found hidden in a secret compartment in the king’s bed a century after the battle. This wasn’t the stroke of good fortune it should have been. Someone murdered the landlady to get the treasure.

By the early 19th century, the Blue Boar Inn had become a tourist attraction but that didn’t save it from being demolished in 1836. Luckily a local architect made detailed sketches of the inn along with measurements. The video explains how these were used to create a computer animation and a scale model, allowing a glimpse into what it was like to stay at an inn 500 years ago.

Oddly, the site is still used as an inn. A Travelodge stands there today.

Innkeeper Challenges Guests to Take on Her Job

Over the years, innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder has overheard plenty of comments about how much fun it must be to run the cozy bed and breakfast where she works in Logan, Ohio. Since so many people have wondered how grand of a time it must be work at the inn, she’s decided to take the day off and let a guest step in and run the place.

The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, located near Hocking Hills State Park, is now on the hunt for a friendly, energetic person to take over innkeeper duties on Sunday, June 3. Anyone who thinks they are up for the job-a task that includes checking in guests and taking phone messages, among other duties-is encouraged to contact Grinsfelder by email at ellen [at] innatcedarfalls [dot] com. In return for their service, one “lucky” applicant will receive a free overnight stay that evening. We’re looking forward to hearing whether or not the chosen one still feels like they got the better end of the bargain after Grinsfelder returns.

Photo of Innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder courtesy The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

Five steps to a romantic New Hampshire getaway

Put the stress and pressure of the workday behind you. This is exactly what was on my mind a few weeks ago. I needed to get away from the daily grind for a bit, and the back roads of New England were calling. I wanted something quiet, remote and relaxing. New Hampshire came to mind immediately.

It had been a while since my last trip to New Hampshire – close to 20 years since my last visit to the White Mountains. So, I had to reacquaint myself with the local options. In the process of doing so, I found five crucial steps to planning a great romantic getaway to the Granite State.

When you’re planning your long weekend (or longer) in New Hampshire (or western Massachusetts, Vermont or Maine), keep the following in mind:

1. Invest some time in picking the right room: for me, this was probably the most important part of planning my getaway. I wanted to find an inn (not a bed and breakfast or a hotel) that had a fireplace and an in-room Jacuzzi. I wouldn’t compromise on these criteria … and I wanted them at less than $200 a night (all in). Since the New England Inns and Resorts Association website allows you to search member properties based on these elements, that’s where I went to do my homework and book, finding the Christmas Farm Inn, in Jackson, NH. It wound up being exactly what I was looking form.

2. Remember the New Hampshire state liquor stores: wine is not expensive! The state liquor stores have a wide selection of wines, and they’re a bit cheaper (in most cases) than they are in nearby Boston and not-so-nearby New York. Pick up a few bottles, depending on the length of your stay, for in-room enjoyment. Think about it: (a) wine by the fireplace, (b) wine in the Jacuzzi, (c) wine on the deck and (d) wine in bed. This really is a no-brainer.

3. Get a sense of the cuisine ahead of time: if you’re visiting northern New Hampshire from a city, be ready for some differences. The restaurants close a lot earlier, especially off season. So, hitting the local restaurant at 10:30 PM just isn’t an option – you’ll starve! Plan to eat earlier dinners, leaving more time for chilled wine in the Jacuzzi back at your room (there’s an upside to everything). While there are some interesting options in the area (such as Wine Thyme in North Conway, NH), upscale alternatives aren’t as common as they are in New York or Boston. Be ready to de-prioritize culinary and focus on the “romantic” part of “romantic getaway.”

4. Fight the urge to stay in your room: the whole point of a romantic getaway is to enjoy the person you’re with … which sometimes leads to longer mornings in bed and the temptation not to wander too far from the room (hint, hint). Keep the spirit without becoming a hermit by packing a lunch and a bottle of wine before heading over to Rocky Gorge in White Mountain National Forest. Sit on the rocks as the river rushes by, and sip on a glass of Pinot Noir if the air is crisp (Gruener if it isn’t). Circle the nearby lake for a bit of privacy; the trail is easy to walk and won’t draw as much traffic as Rocky Gorge.

5. Take in a sunset: for a fantastic sunset, head over to Cathedral Ledge. It isn’t far from the Conway, NH area, so you won’t lose much time to the drive. In summer, the later sunset might leave you scrambling to find dinner afterward, so choose a restaurant that’s nearby to make sure you aren’t scrounging after enjoying a bit of natural beauty.

Skip the hotels on your next business trip and stay at a local inn

Once upon a time, I was addicted to travel reward programs. I see it now and laugh, but until seven years ago, I was hooked. I couldn’t let go of my HHonors card, and I lamented that, at the end of 2001, I was one night away from Diamond on Hilton and two away from Platinum on Starwood. Looking back, I see how ludicrous the whole thing is. And it has taken until this week to see how much more attractive the alternative is.

A decade ago, I had a great alternative to traditional hotel stays dropped in my lap, but I was too consumed by points-lust to realize it. I was on a project in central New Jersey and was in Bernardsville for a team dinner. On the street, we ran into a person from another project team on the sidewalk as she was walking into a small inn. She explained to us that she was happy to give up the points – the experience she had at that property was worth it.

We all laughed about her unicorns-and-rainbows perspective as we finished our walk to the restaurant, and for a few years, I found the notion so absurd that it became burned in my memory. That’s why it came back to me Tuesday, as I checked into the Cowpers Inn in Palo Alto.The small bed and breakfast, a few blocks from the conference I was attending, isn’t luxurious, but it’s comfortable and charming. I had plenty of space, a sufficient bed and free internet access. The room didn’t have a desk, which was the only flaw I could find for a frequent business traveler. That didn’t matter much anyway, as I spent little time in the room while in town. Looking back on the stay, I see the cost savings for your company, the charming accommodations and the pleasant management as having enhanced my stay, and I’ll book next year when I attend the same conference.

The greater lesson, however, is that business travelers have options. Rather than become a slave to the loyalty programs, you can assert your independence while enjoying your business trip more. Get out of the chains and into a small B&B the next time you go out on the road, or if you’re in a city, stay at a small independent hotel. They’ll get to know you, and the treatment you receive will be far superior to anything a large hotel can provide.

And if you hit the same destination regularly, that small inn will start to feel like a true home away from home.

San Francisco’s Pelican Inn: A slice of rural England in California

Nothing beats a crisp, cold beer after a long hike through the woods, and in northern San Francisco that can be found at a place called the Pelican Inn. Located at the edge of Muir Beach and adjacent to the Muir Woods National Monument, the Pelican Inn is well positioned among a variety of trail heads and nature preserves to make access easier for the wandering adventure traveler.

More unique than its location, however, is the style of the Pelican Inn. It’s as if someone — some great creature dug its hands deep into the soil of English countryside, pulled up a quaint little inn from a small, cozy town and dropped it back into the earth fifteen miles north of San Francisco. Positioned at the corner of the property and looking towards the sprawling lawn with scattered clumps of visitors, one could easily transport from the sleepy shores of Muir Beach across the Atlantic Ocean and into some distant borough of northern England.

Inside, the Pelican Inn offers a full range of English fare and character, from a wide range of beers and snacks for passers-by to a small dining room and several inn-style hotel rooms for those staying longer.

To get there, take the 101 north out of San Francisco and then the 1, or Shoreline Highway west to Muir Beach.

Rooms start at $190/night. Pelican Inn: 10 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965

[image via Erin Drewitz]