Snowy days make for magical get-aways at these quaint fairytale Michigan inns.
CASTLE IN THE COUNTRY
Step into a cozy Victorian world at the Castle in the Country on the outskirts of Allegan, between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Just 30 miles from the Lake Michigan shoreline, this sprawling 65-acre estate features the original 1906 former summer home of John H. and Caroline Wurtz, as well as a new modern farmhouse featuring an inviting sitting area, book nook and spa.
Between the two buildings, 10 distinct guest rooms and suites pay homage to noble figures like Sir Lancelot, King Arthur, Lady Guinevere and Romeo and Juliet. Each features a two-person jetted tub, king bed and gas fireplace. The 600-square-foot Kingdom Suite boasts a wood burning fireplace and Jacuzzi in the separate seating area, while the private bath offers a two-person shower with rainfall heads.
After a scratch made breakfast, guests are encouraged to borrow snowshoes and enjoy a trek along the property’s three-mile Enchanted Forest or venture to the nearby Allegan State Game Area where designated trails are open for cross country skiing, hiking and even horseback riding.
The adjacent Fennville Farm Unit also provides great opportunities to see wildlife, including bald eagles and snowy owls. Private 40-minute horse-drawn sleigh rides through the serene countryside, reminiscent of days gone by, are available at Wild West Ranch in Fennville.
Back at the Castle, guest rooms invite quite relaxation, reading and even napping, while the outdoor deck serves as a gathering place with a fire table to keep the chill at bay. For a more intimate experience, reserve a couple hours in the temperature-controlled igloo, complete with a fireplace, romantic lighting, comfy seating and blankets, as well as local wine and a plentiful charcuterie board.
For something above and beyond, the Royal Treatment Package enhances any two-night stay, with in-room breakfast; a 60-minute on-site full body couple’s massage; a picnic basket packed with snacks and a bottle of local wine; and a $60 dinner voucher for an area restaurant like Salt of the Earth in nearby Fennville. The spa is also open for stand-alone treatments, schedule permitting.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking downtown Kalamazoo, Henderson Castle has shown as a crown jewel of the community since it was completed in 1895. The 11,000-square-foot, 25-room Queen Anne style home was built for industrialist Frank Henderson and his wife, Mary, and was crafted from Lake Superior sandstone and brick.
The interior showcases a rich blend of bird’s eye maple, mahogany, birch, American sycamore and quartered oak, with adornments like lead and stained-glass windows, crystal chandeliers and heated marble floors.
This iconic edifice now operates as an elegant 12-guest-room boutique bed-and-breakfast, where romantic dreams become reality. Frank Henderson’s private quarters in the south tower have been converted into the Italian Suite, featuring antique furniture throughout the boudoir and adjoining sitting area, as well as a 13-head shower in the majestic lavatory.
Tucked into the third-floor turret, the Queen’s Tower room features an antique bed discovered during castle renovations and an outdoor balcony with views of downtown. The exotic Tibetan Room is graced with a hand-painted tin ceiling inset with optic lights that gradually change color, and a hand-painted tile mural in the bathroom evokes an Asian vibe.
For a more private stay, the Cottage Suite B in the former carriage house includes a spacious seating area and whirlpool tub — ideal for a cold winter night.
Fine dining can be found in the French-inspired H Prime Chophouse, headed by Chef Francois Louis Moyet, who acquired the inn in 2011. Indulge on puff pastry wrapped imported French brie, caviar and aged steaks drizzled with bearnaise, bordelaise, au poivre or beurre blanc sauces.
Savory desserts such as crème brûlée or pot de crème are a decadent way to cap off the evening. Craft cocktails and an array of wines—including six made with estate-grown grapes— area available in the Spirits Lounge.
A variety of elevated experiences can be found within the castle walls. Moyet, who also has a degree in naturopathic medicine, features calming Swedish massages and facials—utilizing an all-natural Henderson Castle skin care line—in the on-site Spa & Naturopathic Wellness Center. A new year-round swim spa, rooftop hot tub and steam room are among the other rejuvenating amenities for castle guests.
“With its beautiful décor and historic charm, Henderson Castle is a great destination for a cozy winter getaway,” says Dana Wagner, Director of Marketing and Communications at Discover Kalamazoo, the local visitors’ bureau. “Each room is unique and full of luxurious comfort, inviting you to step away into an enchanting world.”
Just a few minutes from the castle, downtown Kalamazoo is home to several museums, theaters, restaurants, breweries and distilleries, while those looking to spend time outside can explore the Lillian Anderson Arboretum, Kalamazoo Nature Center or Kal-Haven Trail.
THE HISTORIC WEBSTER HOUSE
Civil War veteran, lawyer and probate judge Thomas E. Webster commissioned the construction of his stately brick Bay City mansion in 1886. Today, it stands as the community’s treasured bed-and-breakfasts aptly named The Historic Webster House.
A regal ambience is noticeable throughout every level of this historic inn. The main floor common areas have been carefully restored with period wall coverings, custom draperies of Scalamandre fabrics and faux painting, which all complement the antique furniture and décor.
Anchored by an Eastlake fireplace, the welcoming parlor is a popular place to warm up with a cup of tea or a glass of wine on a chilly winter day. Bradbury and Bradbury custom wallpaper gives an Asian flair to the breakfast room, where guests enjoy delicious meals every morning.
Each of the inn’s six guest rooms is unique. The most distinctive, in style, size and location, is The Keep Room—a five-room king suite which sprawls the entire lower level. This retreat space features a massive, polished stone wall, electric fireplace and private seating area, along with an impressive ensuite bath with a double head rain shower, spa/dry sauna and large two-person whirlpool tub.
“The Webster House is an elegant step back in time,” says Susan Becker of nearby Freeland, who has made a staycation out of her four visits with her husband, Walter. “We keep going back because it is so close to home.”
Each visit means the chance to experience a different room at the inn. “We have stayed in three different rooms, all gorgeous,” Becker notes. “The Keep Room is our favorite; it’s a luxurious retreat. We also like the breakfast in bed option, where it is brought right to your room.”
Other guest spaces include The Webster Room, The Magistrate’s Room and The Judge’s Chambers, all on the third floor, and The Signature two-room suite on the second floor, complete with a whirlpool soaking tub and infrared sauna.
With any room, there is the option to add spa services like a one-hour relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage or other aromatherapy treatments.
For those who want to explore the great outdoors, the nearby Chippewa Nature Center offers 19 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Just 20 minutes west, the Canopy Walk at the Whiting Forest (adjacent to Midland’s Dow Gardens) is not to be missed. Open year-round, this 1,400-foot elevated pathway is touted as the longest in the country. An additional three miles of trails, including 1.5 miles of ADA accessible pathways, bridges and boardwalks, make this a popular destination no matter the season. If time permits, check out the Mid-Century Modern home and studio of famed architect Alden B. Dow.
After a day of exploring, stop by Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie, which recently opened a location in downtown Bay City near the riverfront. In addition to fine wines, craft beers and flavorful cocktails, the menu offers a diverse range of meats, cheeses, wraps, salads, small plates and hearty entrees. Musicians play live several nights a week.
Reprinted from the winter 2023-2024 issue of Michigan BLUE magazine