To B&B or not to B&B, that is the question. The answer - why not? The Granite State offers a B&B for every taste. They vary with the personalities and whims of their owners. While staying at a small establishment you will have the attention of the owner - a great resource for finding the best restaurants and sights in the adjacent area.Here, we give you a few ideas to help you find the right one for you.SocializeThe Inn at Ellis River
17 Harriman Rd., Jackson
Fall asleep to the sound of the Ellis River nearby in beautifully appointed guest rooms all named after White Mountains waterfalls after a day of exploring quintessentially New England Jackson. Walk through a covered bridge to nearby golf courses, quaint shops and restaurants or simply stay close to home enjoying the inn's in-ground pool in warmer months and hot tub year-round. At the end of the day, the pub and game room beckons for a rousing game of pool or darts and refreshing libation.Horse HavenFarm by the River
2555 West Side Rd., North ConwayThis is the B&B for the horsey set or wannabes. The farm offers year-round horseback riding as well as carriage, wagon and sleigh rides in season. An original grant by King George of England, the property has panoramic mountain views as well as fishing and swimming at a private beach on the Saco River. Guests receive a special rate at the stable with 22 resident horses and can take advantage of "ride and stay" packages. The King room ($199) has a two-person jacuzzi with views of the horses and mountains beyond.Art LoversHayloft Inn at Blackmount
440 Clark Pound Rd., North HaverhillArt lovers can have their brush with New Hampshire royalty at the Hayloft. The inn is a new post-and-beam home overlooking the Vermont hills and features a Maxfield Parrish Gallery with prints and memorabilia from the early 20th-century artist/illustrator known for his neo-classical themes and a color palette saturated with light. Innkeeper Joyce Read is a native of Plainfield, where Parrish lived until his death at age 96. Her mother modeled for the artist as a young girl. The Sugar Loaf ($100) room has a king bed and pine floors.Fido WelcomeLazy Dog Inn
201 White Mountain Highway, ChocoruaThere are those people who wouldn't dream of leaving their pooch - even for a B&B getaway weekend. No need at Lazy Dog, which claims "to love your dog as much as you do." There are no weight or breed restrictions when it comes to canine guests at this 1845 farmhouse. All dogs have access to the climate controlled "Doggie Lodge," where day care is provided (included in the bill). There's also a fenced-inn play area and, the best news ever, your dog is welcome to stay with you in your guest room. The Sit and Stay Awhile ($190) is perfect for families, with two rooms sharing a bath.Rustic LuxuryBear Mountain Lodge
3249 Main Street, BethlehemInspired by their honeymoon in Alaska, Michael and Carol Kerivan created their own version of a log cabin lodge on 23 pristine acres with spectacular views of Mt. Washington from almost every room and the occasional sighting of black bear and moose. Think rustic meets luxury with warm cookies upon arrival, masterful breakfasts and outdoorsy-themed rooms with amenities such as slate steam showers and Gilchrist & Soames bath products. The Bear Mountain Lodge is a tad more pricey than many B&Bs, but it's all about those luxurious touches. The Moose Hollow Room ($165 to $235) has log interior walls, too. P.S. The Lodge has a nice elopement package.Get ConnectedBernerhof Inn
342 U.S. Route 302, GlenWe know - you want to get away but you don't really want to totally disconnect. The newly renovated Bernerhof Inn has all the B&B perks like whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and plush bedding, but it also has complimentary iPads to use during your stay, iPod docking stations in each room and free wifi access. Forget your computer? That's covered, too. There's also a European-style pub, where afternoon tea is offered, along with a wide selection of favorite and locally crafted beers and wines. Also, there are complimentary evening appetizers made with locally grown ingredients.Bette Your Lucky StarsSugar Hill Inn
Route 117, FranconiaYou can be the star of your own movie at this 1789 farmhouse where Bette Davis often stayed in the '30s and '40s. Davis was a summer resident of the town and was married for a time to a local innkeeper. You can reserve the Bette Davis Luxury Suite. The movie queen often stayed in the room, which has maple floors, a gas fireplace and windows on three sides with otherworldly mountain views. For a modern-day treat, stay in the Dream Cottage ($385), a separate building with cathedral ceilings, a fireplace and its own sauna. In the dining room, find some of the best food served in the region.Marry and HoneymoonNotchland Inn
2 Morey Rd. (off Route 302), Hart's LocationWith more than a mile of frontage on the Saco River and two swimming holes on the property, you might think water sports are the attraction at this 19th-century granite mansion on an 100-acre estate, but the draw for many is the elopement package. You can get married in the shadow of the White Mountains. Ed Butler, one of the innkeepers, is also a justice of the peace and is more than happy to officiate. A license may be obtained in as little as 45 minutes at the town clerk's office. Mr. Butler will waltz you through the process. For total privacy ask for one of their upscale cottages. The Willard ($325) offers views of Crawford Notch and you can bring your pet.Sweet RetreatCandlelite inn
5 Greenhouse Ln., BradfordYou won't need an alarm clock to wake up at the Candlelite. The smell of fresh-baked bread and muffins in Marilyn Gordon's kitchen will probably do the job. Situated in an 1897 guesthouse the inn has four rooms and two suites. Breakfast is served in a sunroom overlooking a small pond. When the weather is warm you can enjoy your breakfast on the porch or gazebo and you might get lucky and see a heron or moose at the adjoining pond. And the best part of the visit? Breakfast comes with dessert, say a blueberry cobbler or tart fresh from Gordon's kitchen. The mini-suite ($180) has a wood stove and access to a porch gazebo.Book Lovers Rest StopThe 1806 Inn at Mount Sunapee Bed & Breakfast
1424 Rte. 103, NewburyFor the bibliophile, a stay at a B&B means reading, reading and more reading. The 1806 Inn is owned by Karen and Bill Carruths, who ran a bookstore before they became innkeepers, and decided to use literature - specifically New England authors - as a theme for their five-room inn near Lake Sunapee State Beach. Stay in the Robert Frost room with mahogany four-poster canopy bed ($150) or the John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau rooms. Their books and biographies are available to read while you relax or enjoy a full country breakfast.Hike or SwimSculptured Rocks Farm Country Inn
363 Sculptured Rocks Rd., GrotonSculptured Rocks Farm is a homey B&B experience with comfy, non-fussy furnishings with friendly innkeepers in a Gothic Revival farmhouse built by saw mill owner Artemus Crosby in 1865 on the Cockermouth River. But one of its best features is its walking-distance proximity to Sculptured Rocks State Park. This is a rock formation sculpted by receding glaciers at the end of the Ice Age. It's like a real-life art installation and not a bad place to swim, either. The Chestnut Suite ($140) offers a claw-foot tub for relaxing deeply.Victorian RomanceRosewood Country Inn
67 Pleasant View Rd., BradfordMr. and Mrs. Edward Messer first opened their home for guests in 1896, and the inn has since earned a reputation as a hotbed for romance. The Rosewood has been selected most romantic B&B in America and one of the country's most romantic hideaways by a national B&B publication, and there's no doubt that the inn is a great place to hug and snuggle. Lovers can also go for a stroll in the flower garden or knoodle on a sunlit porch. But there are other forms of romance - let's call it retro romance - like the tea parties for baby or bridal showers or other events, or when the girls just want to get together. The Rosewood uses fresh-from-the-farm eggs and maple syrup made right from the inn's sugar bush for breakfast and they're particularly proud of their lemon ginger scones.View-tasticCoppertoppe Inn and Retreat Center
8 Range Rd., HebronFormerly the airy mountainside retreat of a restaurateur and an artist, the Coppertoppe was built only 12 years ago and got its name from its crimped copper roof. Its library is extensive. You can grab a book and relax on the porch with sweeping views of Newfound Lake or ramble through acres of gardens and forest. Hosts Bill Powers and Sheila Oranch have decorated without carpets and use washable materials designed to create an allergy-free environment, even though they take pets for an extra charge. Ask for the Garnet suite ($275), a grand space with sweeping views from the bed. The attached bath is the largest you will find at a B&B and features Italian marble, large whirlpool tub and a European-style shower - all with a stunning view.Find the LightLighthouse Inn B&B
913 Scenic Dr., LaconiaThis inn was constructed in 1939 by shipbuilder Byron Hedblom, who brought the Mount Washington cruise ship to Lake Winnipesaukee and three working lighthouses to the Laconia property. The Lighthouse Inn is a quiet redoubt that seems miles away but is within walking distance of Weirs Beach. Innkeepers Mike Recht and Pat Cassidy have created a cozy getaway, and soufflés and baked French toast are featured on the breakfast menu that also includes fresh fruit and a cold cereal bar. Every afternoon Cassidy makes the best chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.Warm at HearthSix Chimeys and a Dream
5 South Mayhew Turnpike, HebronYou can party like it's 1799 at the Six Chimneys in a former stagecoach stop that has been welcoming guests since the Mayhew Turnpike opened and stage traffic began between Concord and the Connecticut River. Pike's Tavern, which overlooked Tenney Mountain, opened on the site about 1799 and catered to the stagecoach trade. The building contains such antique features as gunstock posts, hand-hewn beams, King's Pine floorboards, log beams with bark still on them, hand-wrought iron nails and, of course, six chimneys with working fireplaces and warming wood stoves. The innkeeper is a quilter and a ballroom dance instructor. She welcomes quilting and crafting groups. Ask for the Blue Room with private path ($170). Also, ask about dance lessons - there is room to dance at this inn.Culinary RetreatThe Wakefield Inn
2723 Wakefield Rd., WakefieldChef Janel Martin runs this tastefully appointed inn, and during shoulder seasons offers cooking classes, from party hors d'oeuvres to Thanksgiving Boot Camp. This April's cooking retreat (three nights, four classes and chef's jacket, $495 ppdo or $185 for non-participating companion) features spring's bounty prepared with traditional French technique. In the summer Chef Martin serves her locally inspired dinner to the public Thursday through Saturday nights.Hi-tech HistoryAle House Inn
121 Bow St., PortsmouthIf you're not the frou-frou lacy curtain, antique quilt, bone china B&Ber and want your weekend getaway modern, simple, urban and elegant, the Ale House Inn might be your place. Like the Port City itself, the inn has deep historical roots. It's situated in a 130-year-old former brewery warehouse and the beautiful bones of that building - brick, hand-hewn wooden floors and thick walls - serve as inspiration for the simple and elegant furnishings. Each contemporary-styled room has a complimentary iPad and its within-walking-distance location to Seacoast Repertory Theatre and Portsmouth's downtown shopping and cultural offerings can't be beat. The deluxe king room ($299) comes with exclusive access to fine dining at the 100 Club, a members-only club on Market Street.Antique HavenFreedom House Bed & Breakfast and Antiques
17 Old Portland Rd., FreedomIf antiquing and history are a big part of your B&B getaway, you don't even have to leave the grounds of the 1860-built Freedom House that has an on-site antique shop in a barn filled with treasures like vintage beaded purses, cunning dollhouses and furniture. This is a small and reasonably priced B&B with a charming garden and four guest rooms with shared baths ($105) decorated in - what else? - antiques. And if you do decide to leave the premises, it doesn't get any more quaint than the village of Freedom. If you're visiting between Memorial and Labor days, check out the Allard House and Works Museum up the street.Art HistoryAround the Corner B&B
72 High St., ExeterFor B&B-ing art lovers, Around The Corner is a Colonial-style home built in 1930 filled with paintings, prints and other objets d'art. Owner/operator Rita Russell has also named for and decorated in the spirit of painters such as Claude Monet ($145) with soft pastels, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. All the guest rooms have books about the artist and his workGubernatorial EleganceThe Governor's House
32 Miller Ave., PortsmouthImagine spending the night at the governor's mansion. The Governor's House, the 1917 Georgian Colonial home of New Hampshire Gov. Charles Dale, who served as head of the Granite State from 1945 to 1949, is a Seacoast B&B that just oozes elegance and history. For fun you can play Dale's 1930 Baldwin baby grand piano, take advantage of the house bicycles for getting around downtown Portsmouth or catch the Coast Trolley, which stops at the front door of the inn. At night after a bath you can dry yourself with Frette Italian towels and bathrobes while enjoying evening wine and cheese time. The Governor's Room offers a private deck. ($239)Tn-Town GrandeurAsh Street Inn
118 Ash St., ManchesterB&Bs don't always have to be situated in the country. The Ash Street Inn offers a great urban getaway for the tourist and the business person who wants a little more luxury and personal attention than an airport hotel can provide. The 1885 Queen Anne-style house was built by 19th-century entrepreneur Abraham Olzendam as a gift to his son but has all modern amenities. There's a full breakfast in the dining parlor and, for a little extra, afternoon tea with fresh-baked scones, clotted cream and tea sandwiches. Room 205 ($159) features a four-poster bed and gas fireplace.Home Sweet Home HillHome Hill Inn
703 River Rd., PlainfieldAnyone for tennis? Croquet? The Home Hill Inn has courts for both. And you can relax after the game with a stone massage, Swedish massage or herbal body wrap. The 19th-century Federal-style mansion overlooks the Connecticut River Valley not far from the former home of fantastical painter Maxfield Parrish. The Inn has fireplaces in most of its single rooms and two-room suites, which are decorated in antiques. Its dining room is a well-known and well-loved entity onto itself, overseen by Chef Bennett Zapletal, a committed locavore who grew up on a small farm in nearby Cornish. The menu is known for the creative use of seasonally fresh and local products as well as homemade bread, pasta, ice cream, cheese and sausage. Rates range from $170-$250.Garden of DelightsStepping Stones B&B
6 Bennington Battle Trail, WiltonSerious gardeners know to bring a liner for their trunk just in case they bring home some cuttings from this rural retreat. Hostess Ann Carlsmith holds a certificate in landscape design from Radcliffe College and it shows. Guests are invited to follow garden paths that meander in all directions and there's always something in bloom. This month you might expect to find sweeps of crocuses, scilla and early bouquets blossom throughout the house. The Queen Room ($85) has a private bath.Speak BritishBirchwood Inn
40 Route 45, TempleThe Birchwood is exactly the kind of accommodation you might expect to find in the Monadnock Region had the Brits won the Revolutionary War. The inn, built in 1775, overlooks the town green and the whitewashed church and town buildings of the rural hilltop enclave of Temple. But it's the British pub and the enchanting British innkeepers that draws the crowd. You can hoist a pint in the London Tavern and sample simple, authentic British fare like bangers and mash, fishermen's pie and spotted dick. And, as expatriate innkeepers Andrew Cook and Nick Finnis point out, English soil is only seven and a half hours away.Fresh and LocalInn at Valley Farms
633 Wentworth Rd., WalpoleGet in touch with your inner farmhand at this Monadnock Region retreat on a 105-acre kid-friendly organic farm where you can get up close and personal with a number of animals. You may collect fresh, warm eggs from the hen house, visit pastured pigs and gawk at the grass-fed beef herd and cashmere goats (Miss May loves to give kisses). Guests are encouraged to visit an on-site interpretive center to learn about the farm's sustainable farming practices. The former dairy farm is now operated by the Caserta family. Visitors enjoy a three-course candlelit breakfast featuring fresh eggs and produce from the organic gardens. If you prefer to make your own breakfast, the inn also has a few housekeeping cottages ideal for families. The Sunnyside Farmhouse ($185/night in April) will come stocked with farm-fresh milk and eggs, and feel free to pick your own produce from the garden in season.Ps and Qs of B&BsJust what is the proper bed and breakfast etiquette? After all, you're not checking into a Holiday Inn; this is someone's home. We asked Mary White, founder of BnBFinder.com, the questions we think all B&Bers have had at one time or another.Q. What if we're uncomfortable eating breakfast with strangers?
A. Most B&Bs offer restaurant-style seating, though private in-room dining is not unheard of. Still, before you rule out a shared breakfast table, consider the perks of sitting with travelers on similar trips. Who knows, you could meet your next boss, friend or date. If you prefer a private setting, however, talk with the owner in advance about possible
arrangements.Q. Can we check in early or check out later than the specified time?
A. Check-in times and check-out times are generally pretty flexible at B&Bs. If you arrive early and the room is vacant, there's a good chance you'll be able to check in. If you are checking in very late, it would be common courtesy to let the owner know.Q. When we go to a hotel, we always tip the chambermaid. Do we tip at a B&B?
A. In a small B&B (four rooms or less), the owner does everything from cook the breakfast to clean the rooms and customarily does not get tipped.
This article appears in the April 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine