The Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven, Michigan, is perhaps best known for its annual Coast Guard festival, held each summer at the end of July. But “Coast Guard City, USA” is home to a number of festivals and events from spring to fall, including September’s Salmon Festival, and convenient to May’s Tulip Time (in neighboring Holland). And there is arguably no better place to stay to enjoy it all than the Harbor House Inn, ideally located right on the waterfront, yet just two blocks from the heart of Grand Haven’s historic downtown, with its restaurants, shops and galleries housed in meticulously preserved buildings.
The Victorian-style Harbor House Bed and Breakfast may look like it was built in the 19th century, but it was actually constructed in 1987. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the main house, with its 15 deluxe and premium rooms, has been joined by two annexes: the Harbor Cottage and the Captain’s Cottage, both containing larger rooms and suites perfect for families. All rooms and suites are air conditioned and have private bathrooms, telephones, hair dryers, ironing boards/irons, wireless internet access, flat screen cable TV’s and DVD players. Most of the rooms offer whirlpool tubs — some double-sized — and/or fireplaces; many also come with porches, decks, or balconies suitable for sitting outside. Each room has either a king or queen bed; a king-sized bed can be split into twin beds when requested in advance. Amenities by Gilchrist & Soames add an elegant touch.
Two common areas in the main house serve guests from all three residences. The living room, with couches by the fireplace, is also where the buffet “continental plus” breakfast is served: juice, coffee, bagels, English muffins, hot and cold cereals, cake, hard-boiled eggs, hard cheeses and seasonal fresh fruit. Guests may dine at indoor tables, or outdoors on the screened veranda.
Adjacent to the living/dining room is the cozy library, also equipped with a fireplace, easy chairs and a table for playing cards and board games. Guests are invited to choose from magazines, hardback and paperback books, DVD’s and board games, with selections of each suitable for adult and children. Menus from local restaurants are also available for perusal.
Pervading the common areas at welcome intervals during the day are the tantalizing smells of homemade cookies baking in the kitchen. These and other goodies are set out for guests to snack on and enjoy throughout the morning, afternoon and evening, along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate. A microwave oven (handy for popping the complimentary popcorn) and small refrigerator are also situated in a common area for guests’ convenience. The Harbor House Inn’s original caramels are a special treat guests will find placed by their bedside.
The owners do not live on site, but the manager and staff are always friendly and helpful. The lobby area is stocked with pamphlets detailing the region’s many attractions, such as the west Michigan Wine and Beer Trail. One of the summer’s most popular local attractions, however, can be enjoyed nightly right from the comfort of the inn’s porch: the Grand River Channel’s famous musical fountain — geysers of swaying water lit up in ever-changing colors to the strains of popular melodies.
Published rates: $99-$280.
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was hosted by Harbor House Inn for purposes of review.