What to know about staying at a bed and breakfast.
Since taking over as innkeepers at Northern Comfort, we’ve loved getting to know all of our guests. Some are long-time friends of the Inn and familiar with how things work. We also have many new guests who are experiencing a B&B for the first time. In order to help everyone feel comfortable on arrival, we thought we’d share a bit about what it’s like to stay at Northern Comfort and how it might be a bit different from your previous experiences at homes-away-from-home, whether a large hotel or cozy Airbnb guest cottage.
After you book, before you arrive
Once you book with Northern Comfort, we will contact you to get a few details important for us to plan for your trip. Specifically, we need to know how many people are in your party, their names, any food allergies and your general plans — especially early departure plans that might affect breakfast.
If you book on the phone we will usually gather the information then. If you book via Airbnb, Booking.com or our website, we usually will send an email right away asking those questions. There is also an automated email that you will receive seven days prior to your arrival. This email is generated by the system, so if you feel that you’ve already provided the information, please ignore!
About the house and grounds
The main farmhouse is where our guests sleep, eat and relax. There are five guest rooms on the second floor as well as a master bath. The first floor is home to the B&B kitchen (our kitchen too!), the dining room with a table that seats 10, a cozy living room with a gas fireplace, a guest powder room and a sweet, pine-paneled sun room with tea and treats for you during our stay. Speaking of which…
We live here!
Jeff and I live right here at the inn. A few years ago, a private suite was added on to the first floor where we have our private quarters, laundry area, the farm office and Patty’s sewing room. Even though the innkeepers’ quarters are connected to the house, they are quite separate and we normally cannot hear guests while we are in our quarters.
We do not have a staffed front desk or reception area.
We do not have a staffed front desk like many hotels and larger inns. Our main phone number automatically forwards to Patty’s mobile phone, so you may occasionally call us and catch us while we are out working on the farm or running errands. During regular business hours, (Mon-Fri, 8-5) Patty is usually able to answer the phone right away, but may occasionally be on a call with other guests or clients.
Since we do not have a staffed front desk, our check-in time frame is very important to us. The farm (and house!) are large, so we make sure that one of us is close to the main entrance when expecting guests. If you’re delayed from the arrival time that you originally communicated to us, please let us know as soon as you can so we can adjust our schedules! If you like to text and that is easier for you, just let us know and we’ll make sure you have our texting information.
Breakfast at Northern Comfort
Breakfast at Northern Comfort is generally served at 9 a.m. Breakfast is a sit-down affair, with all guests gathered around the table. One of our favorite parts of running a B&B is listening to our guests getting to know each other over breakfast. Many mornings, we’ll brew up another pot of coffee once breakfast is over so that our guests can stay at the table and keep chatting.
We generally have coffee ready around 7:30 a.m. We brew regular coffee every morning. If you like decaf, just let us know and we’ll brew up a French press for you.
Breakfast consists of some sort of first course that we serve at 9. If guests are late, we might wait a few minutes but will go ahead and start service by 9:05, especially if there are other guests in the dining room. The first course is usually something like a yogurt parfait, freshly baked scones or mixed fruit with mint or chocolate balsamic sauce.
The main course follows the starter and is a traditional farmhouse breakfast. We alternate between sweet and savory breakfasts for multi-day guests and plan around that.
If you have a food allergy or medical reason to avoid certain foods such as gluten, please let us know and we will plan accordingly. If you prefer to avoid certain foods such as meat or gluten as a lifestyle/dietary choice, we’ll also try to accommodate. Special charges may apply and we may not be able to accommodate special requests, depending on other guest needs.
All of our meals are prepared in our farmhouse kitchen, so if you truly cannot tolerate certain foods we cannot guarantee there will not be cross-contamination.
You’ll probably meet some great new people.
One of the fun parts of staying at a B&B is getting to know the other guests. You’ll be tablemates at breakfast and often see each other in the evenings, hanging out in the living room or playing games in the dining room. If you’re shy (like Patty is) that’s perfectly fine, folks will leave you alone. We’ve noticed that our guests tend to find something in common pretty quickly — it’s our thought that people who are excited about staying on a historic farm will always find something in common.
Many of our past guests and people who find our website after searching for B&B’s are old hands at bed and breakfast stays and like the more intimate nature of staying at a place like Northern Comfort and like making new friends. Those guests often are fans of history and antiques with a good familiarity of making, canning, cooking and the like. Many of our new guests who book from Airbnb often have never stayed at a B&B before, but like the Airbnb platform that’s based on staying with ‘hosts’ in their private homes. So there’s usually something you will find to talk about with your fellow guests!
Coming and going during your stay.
Once you are checked in, you can treat Northern Comfort like it’s your home away from home. Don’t worry about staying out late, there are no expectations here! If there are other guests, please be mindful of that if you are coming home after midnight.
Each room has a key so that you can lock it when you head out. We also have keys available for the farmhouse so if you are planning on staying out late, please ask us for a house key before you leave.
If you get locked out, you will have our mobile numbers and can just call to get let in!
Where to eat, how to snack and libations.
Northern Comfort is about 30 minutes from most dining locations. We’ve compiled a guest dining guide that you can reference here. Please keep in mind that during the summer, it’s best to make a reservation, especially if you are planning on eating at one of the restaurants in Ely.
There is a convenience store, called the Trapline, about a mile from the B&B that keeps a good stock of snacks and munchies as well as a full off-sale liquor store.
If you have stocked up on your own wine or cocktails to enjoy during your stay, let us know. There is a wine opener in the tea room and we can provide glasses, ice, and other accessories
Please note that the innkeepers are required to manage all cleanup according to state regulations. As such, it’s best that we clear tables, wash dishes and load the dishwasher. We appreciate your help in cleaning up, but please just leave your used dishes in the dining room when finished and we will clear the table.
Furry (and feathered) friends.
Northern Comfort is home to a number of furry and feathered friends. Here’s the rundown:
We have a housecat named Biscuit who is frequently out in the yard romping, shying away from humans and hiding under cars. Biscuit is a ginger cat with obvious striping and white socks. He’s in rather good shape (as opposed to the barn cat). Biscuit’s a bit shy, so he might scamper away from you. Please note that Biscuit is not allowed into the main B&B so please do not let him through the front door! Also, Biscuit is still getting used to being outdoors and isn’t scared of cars. If he’s under your car and won’t move, please let Patty or Jeff know and they will bring out the kitten rake (i.e. garden rake we use to push him out from under cars.)
We cannot tell you how eager we are to remove the last two sentences from this section. He’ll learn, eventually!
We also have a barn cat named Mama Kitty who is often sunning herself on the dry sink on the small barn connected to the white barn. She also likes to dust bathe in the parking lot and occasionally visit anyone sitting in the gazebo. Mama Kitty is even more skittish than Biscuit!
Note that neither kitty is ever allowed in the main B&B.
We also have a basset hound named Peppermint who usually hangs out in our quarters or tethered in our private yard. We usually leave Peppermint crated in the barn studio/shop when we are gone, but occasionally leave her in our private quarters. She’s quite a character, so if you hear her warbling be assured that’s she’s just being a drama hound, not truly dying. We’ll bring her out to meet guests from time to time and she loves to say hi if she sees you in the yard. She’s a very friendly, sweet hound, but a bit on the overenthusiastic side (she loves to jump up to say ‘hi’).
As of spring of 2017, Northern Comfort is home to nine egg laying chickens. These featherheads live in the small barn closest to the gazebo. You might see them out in their fenced in run during your stay and if you’d like to see more of them, just let us know! The chickens are super fun and love showing off. They will start laying eggs in the fall of 2017 which will be for our personal use only (due to regulatory requirements).
Please note, if you go to make friends with the chickens on your own, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you go on to your next activity. While chickens aren’t toxic or disease carriers, it’ s good practice to wash your hands before and after interacting with them to be extra sure!