Overlooking Frenchman's Bay at Inn at Bay Ledge in Bar Harbor, Maine

Essential Bar Harbor: 3 Classic Inns in the Heart of Small Town Maine

Working lobster boats, old-fashioned ice cream shops and the unrivaled beauty of Acadia National Park … there are few places as quintessentially “New England” as Bar Harbor, Maine.

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Its small town vibe represents the best blend of what a tourist destination should be and the welcome, laid-back Maine hospitality that earned the state its moniker of “Vacationland”.

When Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North America offered to host our recent stay in three of their best Bar Harbor bed and breakfast inns, how could we refuse? They personally inspect each member property and we were not at all surprised to find ourselves among some of the most unique luxurious accommodations in town.

The Inn at Bay Ledge (Bar Harbor)

A mere five minute drive from the town center, tucked along a sleepy residential street, The Inn at Bay Ledge is a truly stunning bed and breakfast. The only tell-tale sign that it’s not just another house is a discreet front awning bearing the hotel’s name. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Inside, guests will find eight rooms of varying sizes and a unique, cozy decor – seven of the eight with waterviews. We were excitedly informed that our particular room was occupied by Jenna Bush on her recent honeymoon.

All guest rooms feature: king or queen four-poster or canopy beds; designer linens, down comforters and feather beds throughout; and private baths – some with whirlpools.

Views from all second floor rooms are enhanced by private decks overlooking Frenchman Bay and the distant mountains of Acadia National Park beyond. First floor rooms have the same spectacular views through picture windows.

Room at Inn at Bay Ledge, Bar Harbor, Maine
Inn at Bay Ledge, Bar Harbor

Amenities are typical of many Select Registry bed and breakfasts: warm, inviting service; quaint, picture-perfect decor; a luxurious, home-cooked breakfast; and afternoon tea service. The Inn at Bay Ledge is unique in that it also offers a sauna and steamroom – a rare and welcome bonus.

Walking through to the back of the house, guests are greeted with a large, wicker-appointed, old-fashioned back porch and Adirondack chairs overlooking a perfectly manicured backyard. Just below the sun porch, an inground pool offers guests a bit of reprieve on the (very) rare warm summer days in Bar Harbor. It’s clear the proprietors have taken great pains to ensure that the entire yard is quiet, relaxing and luxurious.

Overlooking Frenchman's Bay at Inn at Bay Ledge in Bar Harbor, Maine
Overlooking Frenchman's Bay at Inn at Bay Ledge, Bar Harbor

Step down towards the water to reveal that the Inn actually sits atop an 80 foot cliff with a wooden staircase leading down to a private pebble beach. A cozy sitting area at the top of the cliff offers a dramatic, uninterrupted view of Frenchman’s Bay and the Porcupine Islands.

Rates: from $100 nightly (off-season) / from $150 nightly (peak)

Manor House Inn (Bar Harbor)

A bit closer to town – a mere five minute walk along the tree lined West Street National Historic District – sits the Manor House Inn. With Acadia National Park only a mile away, it’s one of the most conveniently located inns in all of Bar Harbor.

Garden at Manor House Inn, Bar Harbor, Maine
Garden at Manor House Inn, Bar Harbor © TravelPod

The entire inn consists of the original three story 1887 Boscobel Mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1897 Chauffeurs’ Cottage, two Garden Cottages and the Acadia Cottage at Manor House Inn.

Walking up the front steps, it’s hard not to feel like you’re coming home – there’s an immediate sense of warmth and comfort. The classic architecture evokes a quiet, simplistic beauty that makes for a perfect photo opportunity, as indicated by the many stares (and camera snaps) we received while relaxing on the large, wicker-appointed front porch.

Before heading into town for an afternoon of sight-seeing, grab an iced tea or lemonade along with a few freshly baked cookies and crumb cake. It was unseasonably hot during our stay – the perfect time for relaxing on the front porch.

We were kindly taken to our accommodations in room 5 – the former master suite and the largest room in the entire house. Along with an ornate bed and working wood-burning fireplace, the room offers plenty of seating including a large chaise lounge near the corner window overlooking the street. The decor is classic, quaint Victorian with well-placed modern accents.

Dining Room at Manor House Inn, Bar Harbor, Maine
Dining Room at Manor House Inn, Bar Harbor © TripAdvisor

Even with its location along one of Bar Harbor’s main streets, our room was quiet and relaxing. Guests awake every morning to a hearty home cooked breakfast buffet in the Mansion, where they can enjoy a table in the dining room or wander into the sunny breakfast garden.

Innkeepers Stacey and Ken have both grown up in Bar Harbor and are happy to help guests plan their vacation days enjoying Acadia’s scenic beauty with a mountain hike or seaside picnic, a bike ride on the Carriage trails of Acadia, a breathtaking whale watch, or kayak tour of Maine’s gorgeous rockbound Downeast Coast.

Rates: from $88 nightly (off-season) / from $155 nightly (peak)

Ullikana Inn (Bar Harbor)

In the heart of Bar Harbor, Ullikana Inn is a quiet, romantic haven overlooking the water. The property consists of two distinct and separate homes – the main house and (the appropriately named) Yellow House. Both were built in the late 19th century in the classic English Tudor style and are surrounded by picturesque, old-fashioned gardens.

Dusk at Ullikana Inn, Bar Harbor, Maine

Caretaker Gay showed us to the Rockaway Room located across the perfectly manicured lawns of the Yellow House with a sweeping view of the grounds. Inside, the decor is classic, with tasteful, clever artistic accents. It’s all a bit like sleeping in a life-size doll house.

All rooms at Ullikana Inn offer: luxurious beds and bedding, private baths, many have fireplaces and private terraces with beautiful water views.

The large wraparound porch provides a dozen comfy rocking chairs and unobstructed views to the modern, intriguing art installation on the surrounding lawn.

We were delighted to indulge in the Inn’s evening wine and cheese service served on the quiet back veranda overlooking Frenchman’s Bay. For cooler summer nights, the innkeepers keep a fire going in the library inside to relax with a classic book or magazine.

Every morning, guests are provided a delightful homemade gourmet breakfast (included in the room rates of course) on the terrace. Specialties include Lemon Soufflé Pancakes with Warm Berry Sauce, Crêpes aux Pommes, Italian omelets, fruit dishes, and freshly baked muffins.

Rates: inquire online or by phone (207-288-9552)

We’re hard-pressed to pick a favorite among these three. Suffice to say, if you’re ever in Bar Harbor, we can wholeheartedly recommend inquiring with Select Registry about any of their accommodations in town.

Founding Editor

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