For our recent trip to Vermont, we decided that since we were staying at a big, fancy ski resort in Stowe, we’d choose something more intimate for our time in Burlington. The Willard Street Inn was recommended to me by a friend who had attended the University of Vermont, which is just down the street from the historic inn.
We were charmed to roll into Burlington late Sunday afternoon to find the inn right there in the center of a residential neighborhood. Flanked on one side by Champlain College (yes there are college students, but no they are not loud (they do have a thing for hacky-sack though…)) & the other side by regular homes, the inn fits into the neighborhood perfectly. A little history: the inn was built in 1881 for Charles Woodhouse, a prominent businessman & Vermont State Senator. Throughout the years, the home served a number of purposes, even serving as a retirement home for a period of time. In 1996, the inn was beautifully restored to its original glory. The current innkeepers, Katie & Larry, bought the building in 2006 – their children help run the property!
The building looks grand & old when you pull into the parking lot, but the real surprise is waiting in the backyard! Not only do Katie & Larry maintain an extensive flower & vegetable garden (all on their own – it takes two hours just to cut the grass!), the view of the building from the backyard is beautiful. We enjoyed sitting in one of the many pairs of adirondack chairs scattered around the garden, enjoying the crisp evening air, a chilled bottle of white wine (they have a fridge for guests to store things) & a few homemade cookies (there’s a new cookie every day – we loved the ranger cookies, made with Larry’s mother’s old recipe!).
Breakfast – always the highlight of any B&B stay – is served in the solarium. The black & white checkerboard floor, bistro tables & windows bathed in morning sunlight give the room more of a french cafe feel than a middle-of-Vermont feel (this is a good thing). The menu changes daily, but always includes a sweet dish, a savory dish & their homemade granola.
The first morning, we shared the sweet & savory dishes, chowing down on eggs benedict & apple cinnamon pancakes, along with a giant basket of homemade scones & muffins.
The second morning, we had an early (5:45am!) departure in order to catch our flight to DC. Instead of sending us off hungry, the inn packaged up their homemade granola & some yogurt for us, & off we went, breakfast-in-tow. How nice is that? I don’t know ANY hotel chain that sends you on your pre-dawn way with homemade breakfast in hand.
We stayed in two rooms during our stay (I’ll explain why in a minute): Room #3, Martha’s Memories, & Room #12, the Tower Room. Both rooms have very distinct personalities. Room #3 has its original coal burning fireplace & is decorated very much in a traditional B&B style (floral wallpaper, canopy bed, etc). However, the bathroom is delightfully modern & it’s the only room in the inn with a jacuzzi tub.
Room #12 is located – literally – in the tower of the inn, which is visible from the beautiful backyard gardens. The tower’s sitting area has an electric fireplace & it’s an absolutely blissful place to sit with a glass of wine & a magazine to watch the sun set over Lake Champlain. The only downside to room #12 is that it doesn’t have a bathroom attached to the room – it’s right across the hall (& is a private bath just for that room). This seemed like a bummer at first, but then we thought: we walk down the hall to go to the bathroom at home, what is the big deal doing it here?
The rooms have ever modern amenity you need, including bathrobes & complimentary wifi. In addition, a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are delivered to your room daily.
The Willard Street Inn combines the best of an inn & a B&B. It’s large enough that you don’t have to socialize with the other guests if you don’t want to, but small enough that you see the same people repeatedly & there are multiple opportunities for interaction, if desired. Bookcases line many of the public spaces, which give it a homey feel. We chatted with Larry, one of the innkeepers, at breakfast one morning & he was delightful, as innkeepers usually are. When we return to Burlington, I’d absolutely consider the Willard Street Inn again.
Know, if you go…
- Normally the inn requires a minimum stay during the summer, which wouldn’t have worked for our trip (we only needed two nights). However, when I looked at their availability online, I noticed that they had two different rooms, each vacant for one night of our stay. After a quick chat with the innkeeper, Katie, she agreed to give us one vacant room one night & the other vacant room the second night. It was a win-win: we got to experience two completely different rooms & the property & the inn didn’t lose money by those rooms staying empty for the single nights they hadn’t been booked. They even moved all our luggage for us. Moral of the story? It never hurts to ask!
- The inn is conveniently located to the downtown pedestrian mall in Burlington. It’s just a short 15 minute walk (downhill on the way there, uphill on the way back – just so you can burn off dinner!). We walked down one evening for dinner, but decided to drive the second night due to a chance of rain. There are a few public (free!) lots & we had no trouble finding a place to park.
- In addition to the homemade cookies, the inn always has fresh coffee, tea & a cold beverage available (lemonade the summer weekend we were there).
- Don’t know what to do while in town? They have tons of resources available to help you make the most of your time in Burlington, including some easy day trips. We took a driving tour one day, hitting all the major factories & touristy fun things on Route 7.