Charming Small Hotel Guides

CASTINE IS NOW A PRETTY, sleepy village but it was the home of the English fleet during the war with the French in Canada in the 1760s; the Maine Maritime Academy continues the nautical tradition. The inn, built in 1894, was bought by Jack Burke and Julie VandeGraaf in 2000; they totally transformed it, putting the accent on informality and relaxation. Jack was in the Foreign Service and his collection of political memorabilia from his travels is a feature. The focus is Passports Pub, like an old colonial club, with floor to ceiling photographs of 20th century world leaders peering down at the rattan chairs. Classical jazz, another hobby, plays along in the background.

Julie ran a patisserie in Philadelphia, so her territory is the deep pink dining room. Breakfasts come with fresh fruit, eggs and home made sausage, as well as Julie’s pastries. Dinner is served by candlelight, with flowers from the abundant garden. Fresh local seafood is used in the bouillabaisse, Maine crab cakes, and lobster and scallop pie. Extra touches include jugs of coffee outside your door at 7am and Bermuda bicycles, complete with baskets, so you can pedal out to the lighthouse with a picnic. 

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