Merry Christmas!

We’re dreaming of a wet Christmas. Not like the ones we used to know. With the tree tops dripping, and children listening, to hear sleigh bells in the rain. — We wish you a Merry (despite the lack of snow) Christmas! — George and Linda

George

Described as a “luxury boutique inn,” The Danforth, in Portland, is all of that and much more, starting with the beautiful brick exterior. A stunningly beautiful federal-style building constructed in 1823, the inn was extensively renovated this year by new owners Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest.

Raymond and Oscar own the Camden Harbour Inn and Natalie’s restaurant, both of which we visited and wrote about in 2011. Raymond and Oscar offer the very best in comfort, friendliness, and yes, pampering. Oh yes, they know how to pamper their guests!

As soon as you enter the inn, you are likely to encounter Ibby, the manager, who is as friendly and gracious a host as you will ever hope to find. Ibby made our stay especially nice.

The inn is a short walk from downtown Portland, but once you get there, you won’t want to leave, particularly given the amazing restaurant on the first floor, Tempo Dulu, which we will tell you about soon. Our room was in the John Calvin Stevens-designed 1901 addition to the inn, and was spacious and light-filled, with a new bathroom featuring a tile-and-granite-accented floor. Most rooms, including ours, have fireplaces and lots of amenities.

With just nine rooms, you’ll find the inn quiet and comfortable, with lovely sitting rooms on each floor, an outside balcony that must be really nice in the summer, and an interesting rooftop cupola with views of the city and the ocean. The bathroom was so elegant that I found myself cleaning up, not wanting to dirty it. Every piece of art and furniture in our room must have been carefully selected.

Ibby owned a 20-room inn in New Hampshire for 25 years, so she knows hospitality. She even served us breakfast, and oh, what a breakfast it was, including the most unusual eggs Benedict I’ve ever had. It was “Indonesian” style and beautifully presented. As Ibby noted, “You eat with your eyes.” The spicy sauce, perfectly cooked soft eggs and crispy toast made this a breakfast to remember.

Linda

The Danforth has some history behind it. Wealthy families have inhabited this historic house on Federal Street, and later it was owned by the Catholic Diocese to house priests. The Danforth became an inn in 1993 and now has a new look since Raymond and Oscar took ownership last year.

One walk through the door and you are likely to be impressed. The architectural features such as its cupola, tall ceilings, distinguished windows and exquisite moldings are sure to catch your eye. It has been fully repainted and rooms have been tastefully refurbished. There are nine rooms here, each one different from the others.

Our room, the Back Bay, had modern decor in shades of taupe and off-white. The first thing I noticed when I entered was just a hint of some wonderful, light fragrance. Collectibles and artwork add color to the room, robes await in the closet and there was a comfortable sitting area as well.

I fell in love with the red-and-black glass sink bowl that was a piece of art in itself. There was a roomy walk-in shower with round stones in the floor. Fluffy towels abound and, well, this is comfort to the max.

It took me a while to get to the coffee downstairs in the morning because everywhere I looked there was another fantastic painting or piece of art I had to check out. All were modern, clean and tasteful. I discovered the nice seating downstairs in the bar area, with a giant moss-covered light fixture that is stunning.

I delivered George a coffee, then took mine, with a novel, to enjoy the inviting sitting room on our floor. The room seemed expansive because it was all off-white — the floor, the ceiling, the walls and the furniture. The lightness of that room obscured the fact that it was a foggy December morning. One can’t help but feel calm and restful in that room.

An elegant breakfast is included in your stay. When I say elegant, I mean it. Our menus had our names on them, and there were three choices of entrees. An amuse-bouche of warm spiced cranberry apple juice and strawberries started us off. While soothing music played in the background, Ibby served us coffee and brought us the largest glass of orange juice I’ve seen.

Like everything else at The Danforth, the eggs Benedict were extraordinary. Wheat sourdough toast was topped with bok choy, poached eggs and spicy sweet chili hollandaise sauce. It was a light and spicy version, and I doubt that anyone misses the meat in this one.

If you have a special occasion coming up in the new year, keep The Danforth in mind as your place to stay. Everyone deserves to be pampered.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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