From its perfectly poised location on Bellingham's bay, in the historic Fairhaven district, the Chrysalis Inn sparkles like a crown jewel. Waves lap onto its rocky foreground, and pylons from a once-booming cannery now act as perches for stoic herons. Beyond is the blue ocean, where sailboats breeze by and San Juan Islands dot the horizon.
The essence of the Northwest is brought indoors through sweeping windows and reflected in the interior decor. China slate floors in the lobby lead to 43 ultra-romantic rooms and suites. All feature fine linens, down duvets, gas fireplaces, two-person tubs, ocean-view window seats, and Internet access for those mixing romance with business. Eight treatment rooms in the Chrysalis Spa offer massages, facials, and other blissful body treatments.
The Fino wine bar is the place to mingle at sunset and sample distinctive wines from around the world. While the dinner menu tempts your palette with regional culinary treasures, the view from the windowed wall will keep you focused on the Pacific Northwest. At sunrise, return here for a complimentary buffet breakfast before prying yourself away from this exquisite destination.
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For Wayne and Deanna Robinson, their home, just south of Tacoma, is literally their castle. The unique three-story Gothic Tudor, surrounded by old-growth trees and English perennial gardens, shimmers in stately splendor from its lakeside location. The four-acre estate, and original home to Chester A. Thorne in 1908, has a history as colorful as its red-brick exterior. It has been a past favorite haunt for dignitaries and presidents, and more recently, for celebrities during the filming of Stephen King's Rose Red.
The Robinsons have lovingly restored Thornewood Castle into a gracious country inn. Guests are transported back to a romantic era of old-world charm during their stay. Gothic archways and medieval stained glass windows emit a fantastical feel while light floods through them to 27,000 square feet of living space and 54 rooms. Plush Oriental carpets adorn gleaming hardwood floors, wall sconces cast a soft light on richly paneled walls, and handsome decor flows through from the Great Hall, Ballroom, and Music room to eight opulent upper-floor guest quarters. Some boast fireplaces and antique tubs, others offer modern jetted Jacuzzis. All view the palatial gardens, and all are divinely regal.
Bountiful breakfasts are also an important part of the stay. If you visit on the first Thursday of the month, be sure to partake in afternoon high tea. This four-course extravaganza is a lovers' delight.
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Travel writer Jane Cassie is president of the British Columbia Association of Travel Writers.