Inn Mates: A B&B Guide

Jessica DunhamOctober 2019
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When date night just won’t cut it, these romantic Arizona retreats and B&Bs will do the trick. From sublime seclusion to the newest B&B on the scene, there’s one for every fall fling. 

Photography by Eric Cox, Mirelle Inglefield, Craig Outhier & Katie Woodard

Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast – Most Secluded!

Nature-loving couples take note. Snuggled next to the cottonwood-shaded San Pedro River, one of the last undammed rivers of the Southwest, sits Casa de San Pedro. You’ll find the hacienda-style hideaway south of Tucson, in the heart of the bird migratory routes that stretch from Mexico to Canada. If you seek seclusion amid nature, this is it.

Each morning, owners Patrick Dome and Karl Schmitt greet you with coffee, tea and a well-plated breakfast in the dining room. Midday, retire to the great room to play cards or pack lunch and binoculars for a bird-watching hike in nearby Madera, Miller or Ramsey canyons. Sunset is best experienced from your private patio as winged creatures – colorful butterflies and delicate hummingbirds – flutter and dart about the bird feeders around the inn. By nightfall, situate yourself in front of the fireplace, glass of wine in hand.

All of the property’s guest rooms circle a lush courtyard with a bubbling fountain and come outfitted with hand-carved Mexican furniture. Some B&B innkeepers run the risk of being too involved in your stay, but not at Casa de San Pedro. Dome and Schmitt ably take care of guests without ever being intrusive, leaving you free to reconnect and unwind.

B&B Essentials

Rooms: 10 guest rooms and 1 suite with a kitchen
Breakfast highlights: Fair trade coffee and Dutch Babies – popovers served with a cherry, apricot, peach compote on top.
Cost: $179-$285/night
Contact: 8933 S. Yell Ln., Hereford, 888-257-2050, bedandbirds.com

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Watson Lake Inn – New!

If you believe breakfast is the most appealing aspect of a B&B, then book a room at Watson Lake Inn. Master chef Peter Gebauer owns this four-room guesthouse with his wife, Aimé. That means that you get breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.

Prior to his Arizona period, Gebauer worked in the kitchens of hotels around the world – Munich, Abu Dhabi, Cancun – and as a chef for Disney Cruise Lines. He’s cooked at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville and at the James Beard House in New York City, and has authored two cookbooks, Omnivore’s Travel and My Culinary Academy. So when Gebauer and his wife purchased a cabin in Prescott two years ago, flinging open their doors to guests was just a matter of muscle memory.

At Watson Lake Inn, Gebauer starts each day crafting a foodie’s fantasy breakfast: soft scrambled eggs, chocolate and orange muffins, zucchini bread, sliced fruit from the trees in the backyard. He invites you to pull up a stool in the kitchen to watch him dice, chop, stir, sauté, boil and roast. As soon as he’s cleaned up from the morning meal, he preps lunches for guests who’ve ordered picnics, which include cured meats, cheeses he’s made himself and breads he’s baked in-house. Come evening, arrange for Gebauer to cook a multi-course, private dinner. Cooking classes? Yup, he offers those, too, tailored to your interest and skill.

It’s morning at the inn. Fingers wrapped around a mug of just-brewed coffee, you push open the door to the back porch. The creak of the wooden planks is the only sound. The hulking boulders of the Granite Dells surround, and just beyond, mountain vistas and the canyon-edged shoreline of Watson Lake. You ease onto the porch swing, propping your feet on the railing. You breathe. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Now… what time is dinner again?

B&B Essentials

Rooms: 4
Breakfast highlights: Grilled peaches and housemade mozzarella; biscuits with prickly pear jam
Cost: $119-$219/night; additional fees for dinner and cooking classes
Contact: 3155 N. State Route 89, Prescott, 262-899-0200, watsonlakeinn.com

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The Canyon Wren Cabins – Red Rock Views!

“Remote” isn’t quite the right word to describe this cluster of cottages hugging a wooded, red-rock cliff overlooking Oak Creek in Sedona. State Route 89A winds by and, depending on where you are on the property, you might hear cars whooshing along. But there’s no Wi-Fi. No telephones. Spotty cellphone service and zero televisions. Just four homey cabins, each built for two. Remote indeed.

On the main floor of each cabin, a tidy kitchen opens up to a private garden oasis. In the living room, a love seat cozies up to a gas fireplace. Upstairs, you’ll find a loft bedroom and a balcony – some with views of Oak Creek, others shaded by peach or fig trees. Each retreat comes stocked with everything you need: dishes, utensils, towels, linens, even “romantic” board games.

Canyon Wren used to operate as a traditional bed-and-breakfast, but the owners, Milena Pfeifer (pictured below) and Mike Smith, recently decided to skip the food offerings and let guests just be. The couple lives on the grounds and are on call for whatever you need, including tips for dinner in Sedona or suggestions for scenic hikes. But most couples stay secreted away during their visit – warmly ensconced in their cabin, fire crackling in the hearth, iPhones on silent.

B&B Essentials

Rooms: 4
Breakfast highlights: It’s BYOB. Our suggestion: Stock up on groceries at Indian Gardens Market, which also doubles as a coffee bar and café serving breakfast and lunch.
Cost: $165-$185/night
Contact: 6425 N. State Route 89A, Sedona, 928-282-6900, canyonwrencabins.com

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Breakfast Bonus!
Briar Patch Inn

If the “breakfast” half of the B&B equation is nonnegotiable, do yourself a solid and book a cabin at Sedona’s Briar Patch Inn. Less a B&B than a paradisiacal nature resort that happens to serve breakfast, the 19-cabin compound sits under a canopy of cottonwoods on the burbling banks of Oak Creek, and the moment you step into its sylvan embrace, you won’t want to leave. On the topic of breakfast: It’s spectacular at the Briar. A typical morning will find you smearing strawberry jam on fresh South African linseed bread, blowing the steam off hot forkfuls of fluffy vegetable frittata, and gulping down the resort’s excellent coffee, all while being serenaded by guitar and violin. And by the creek, of course. 3190 N. State Route 89A, Sedona, 928-282-2342, briarpatchinn.com

England House B&B – Most Luxurious!

You’d think that dining and sleeping on meticulously restored French antiques would be, to put it mildly, less than comfortable. Think again. The magic of a stay at the England House B&B in Flagstaff lies in how the owners manage to make you feel completely at home amidst grand luxury hundreds of years old.

The furnishings in each of the four elegant guest rooms date back to Louis XV. (These are the real deals, not replicas. In one room, you’ll find a stately bed frame, its wood polished to a gleam; in another, a hand-carved armoire.) No detail is forgotten. Fresh flowers on your bedside table. Sheets stretched taut across a plush mattress, ironed daily to a military crispness. The aroma of freshly ground gourmet coffee as you step into the sun-lit enclosed porch on the back lawn.

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Another virtue: Its location in the hopping historical section of Flagstaff, an easy stroll to fashionable haunts like Shift and Mother Road Brewing Co., and to the cooling pines of Flagstaff City Park and its network of hiking trails.

Procuring their materials from local quarries, stonecutter William England and his wife, Barbara Michelbach-England, built the Victorian home in 1902; since then, it’s changed owners six times, including recently, when Laurel and Richard Dunn handed over the keys to a pair of couples who promise to continue its august hospitality traditions. “I’ve always felt like a caretaker of the house,” says Laurel Dunn. “It’s not ‘mine.’ I’m just looking after it until it’s time for someone else to take over.”

B&B Essentials

Breakfast highlights: Fluffy egg and cheese soufflés
Cost: $149-$219/night
Contact: 614 W. Santa Fe Ave., Flagstaff, 928-214-7350, englandhousebandb.com

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Cottage Bed & Breakfast – Most Historical!

There’s only one room at the Cottage Bed & Breakfast, so reserve early if you’d like to spend a night at this historical 129-year-old property in Graham County south of Globe. The room makes its home at the Olney House, so named for the less-famous sheriff – as in, he was no Wyatt Earp – who enforced territorial law in southern Arizona before the turn of the century.

George Olney built the Western Colonial Revival-style structure in 1890 as his home, and its stately façade strikes an imposing presence in small-town Safford. In latter years, the Olney House was the sole accommodation on a 100-mile segment of the Old West Highway.

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Today, it’s no longer an isolated way station. In fact, thanks to owner Ruth Dannenbrink’s talents in the kitchen, the on-site Commercial Bakery acts as a beacon for locals and passersby, beckoning the masses with heady aromas of fresh-out-of-the-oven goodies. She runs the little café out of the main house’s original kitchen, baking artisan breads, chewy cookies, decadent cheesecakes and flaky pastries both savory and sweet.

From the main house, a red brick path lined with flowering plants leads to the charming cottage – your very own guest quarters. Simply furnished yet delightfully private, this space for two offers a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette.

B&B Essentials

Rooms: 1
Breakfast highlights: Any of the pastries. We like the spinach and feta croissants.
Cost: $130/night
Contact: 1104 S. Central Ave., Safford, 928-428-5118, cottagebedandbreakfast.com

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