A few weeks back, my youngest daughter Jamie and I had the chance to travel to the small town of Chester, Vermont which touts itself as "The Vermont you've been hoping to find. The town with a heart located in the heart of Vermont." Honestly? They're right! I was just as enchanted with the town I was in as I was of the Bed & Breakfast where we spent the weekend - the Inn Victoria.
Located directly on Main Street, USA, er, Main Street in Chester, the Inn Victoria was built circa 1850 as the private residence of Doctor Abram Lowell whose name graces a nearby lake and State Park. Dr. Lowell conducted his medical practice in a small building next to the main house which is now known as Dr. Brown's cottage. The building is currently being used as a bicycle rental shop but is undergoing renovations to become a cozy family retreat that should be available for use towards the end of this year. Located just steps away from the main house you can just see it to the right of the picture above. Once renovations are done I've got no doubt that it's going to be just as lovely as the rest of the house is!
Around 1880, Dr. Lowell's son-in-law George Hilton enlarged the original house to include a third story and a mansard roof which is also known as a "French roof". A mansard roof has two slopes on each of the four sides with the lower slope steeper than the upper slope. The upper slope is usually not visible from the ground and dormer windows are often set in the lower slope which allows for additional living space. The roof design was first popularized by François Mansart (1598–1666) who was an accomplished architect of the French Baroque period. The design again became especially fashionable during the Second French Empire (1852–1870) of Napoléon III. The Inn Victoria, which was known for many years as the Hilton House, is the only example of this architectural style in the historic town of Chester.
The house originally became a bed and breakfast in 1988 and I get the feeling that's when it really came into its own. The inn itself is named after Queen Victoria who ruled over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for 63 years and 7 months beginning on June 20th, 1837 and ending at her death on January 22nd, 1901. Her reign is known as the "Victorian era" and it was a long period of prosperity for the British people.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, on February 10th, 1840 following her proposal to him on October 15th, 1839. Together they had nine children: Victoria Adelaide Mary, Albert Edward, Alice Maud Mary, Alfred Ernest Albert, Helena Augusta Victoria, Louise Caroline Alberta, Leopold George Duncan, and Beatrice Mary Victoria.
All of the guest rooms at the Inn Victoria are named after Queen Victoria's children with the exception of Mr. Brown's Cottage which is named for John Brown who was Queen Victoria's personal attendant following the death of Prince Albert at age 42. Just as an aside, if you'd like to see a good movie based on that relationship, watch Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench and Gerard Butler - it was quite good in my own humble opinion!
Anyway, history and movie suggestions aside, let's take a look inside the Inn Victoria, shall we? Walking across the beautiful front porch and through the welcoming front door, guests find themselves in a beautifully appointed living room area complete with comfy couches, gas fireplace, any number of books to pique your interest should you wish to settle down with one, and a piano that puts out some very beautiful music if you're lucky enough to be there when a guest decides to play a few tunes from H.M.S. Pinafore like I was!
Two dining areas aren't enough, though, as there's also the main dining room with a gleaming wooden table beneath a sparkling antique chandelier:
A separate sitting room provides comfortable seating, a 42"-inch flat-screen TV, and a small desk should you choose to sit down and write out some postcards.
This comfy chair in the corner of the room was my very favorite spot while Jamie took over the sofa in the opposite corner. With complimentary wireless internet and a 32"-inch flat-screen TV that got lots of channels, Jamie was really quite content and when it came time to call it a night there was plenty of room for both of us in the incredibly comfy queen-size antique bed. Matter of fact, I had that whole sleeping-on-a-cloud feeling again like I did in Maine - something that I could really get used to if only I were so lucky to have that kind of bed. I tell ya, I get more and more disenchanted with my own bed every time I sleep on a bed like the one in the Prince Alfred room. Of course, I don't have the luxurious bed linens that the Inn Victoria does nor do I think I'm going to start triple-sheeting my own bed anytime soon so I guess if I want that kind of comfort and feeling of being treated like royalty, I'm just going to have to go back up for another stay! Somehow I really don't see that as being a hardship at all!
In addition to the rooms that I've covered here, there are two more guest rooms that I didn't get a chance to see on the first floor of the inn that open out onto a beautiful back deck - the Princess Helena Room and the Prince Albert Room. Even though I didn't get the opportunity to poke my head in and look around, I've got no doubt that they are just as nice as the rest of the rooms that I did see as it would be downright impossible for them not to be! After all, the whole inn is lovely from the white wicker chairs on the front porch to the back deck with its hot tub.
I honestly don't believe that there is a single thing that Dan and Penny have forgotten when it comes to giving their guests the best of everything but I would be willing to bet that if you did think of something, they'd go out of their way to get it for you as that's just the type of people that they are. Warm, welcoming, and wonderful!
I know I've said it before and I'm sure I will no doubt say it again but if you just want someplace to hang your hat for a night then go stay at a hotel (which is not to say that there aren't some really good hotels out there as there are!) but if you want a truly amazing experience that will be the icing on the cake no matter what your reasons for traveling are, then stay at a bed & breakfast - especially a bed & breakfast like the Inn Victoria which is truly a royal gem in the town with a heart in the heart of Vermont!
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