We’ve all been impacted by the Coronavirus and I know it produces anxiety. Some of us have had our wings clipped regarding travel and visiting friends. Are you like me? I don’t always feel the need to leave the house until I can’t leave the house, for some reason. I’ve heard that some of you are missing us just as we are missing you. That makes me think that I should offer some ways for you to feel like you’re away from home staying in our luxury Bed & Breakfast – while in reality, we’re all limited to the rooms we reside in every day.
We did not travel for Spring Break – or even across town for dinner – last week. Instead, when not working, I’ve been living like a guest at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast in Jacksonville, Illinois! Workshop presenters have often coached us to stay in our own suites so that we experience what our guests experience, identifying any gaps. I’ve always left that to Mary and Kelly, but now that I’m “safe at home,” I’m doing my own quality control, and truthfully, I’m enjoying it! I’ve learned that I like being a guest in Blessings on State!
What Should You Do to Make Your Stay at Home Feel More Luxurious?
Refresh your bath towels – and your robe
We live in a luxury Bed & Breakfast, but I confess that I haven’t bought new towels for our family since we opened. I always buy top-of-the-line goods for our guest suites and we get the hand-me-downs when they start to show wear. So… we do use quality towels, but only after they’re retired from service. This week I’ve been using the newer guest towels and… the fluffiest robe, ever! It feels so luxurious, and I’m loving it! Did you get a new robe for Christmas? Are you holding on to new towels for when your guests arrive? Don’t wait. Use them today!
INSIDER TIP: We’re big fans of the Turkish Towel Company and if you would like to order fluffy new towels or robes, I can help you make that happen!
Use the good stuff
Forget about saving it “for our guests.” I shared a room with my sister until I was in the sixth grade. I begged for the “guest room,” offering to move out whenever we had guests, and finally – finally! – my parents gave in! As innkeepers, we have our own space and our guest suites are “de-personalized.” The guest nightstand has a clock, but it doesn’t also include my phone, my list of things to do, my reading glasses, and six other items. Take a few minutes to clear your space. Hide that to-do list! Put out a picture, or a flower, or something else that will make you smile. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. If you have a guest room, sleep in there tonight. Change it up!
Use luxury amenities
My mom always had items that she would only put out when guests came to stay. Do you? Maybe you have the little bottles of luxurious shampoo and lotion left from your last stay with us, or an unopened bottle of your favorite conditioner. Use them. Take the time to soak in relaxing bath salts. Open a fresh toothbrush. Go ahead! Enjoy the amenities of a luxury Bed & Breakfast and make yourself feel extra special.
Set up turndown service
At least a couple of hours before bedtime, turn-down your bed just as we do at Blessings on State. Go all out and put a couple of chocolates on your pillow!
INSIDER TIP: Don’t forget that you put chocolates out on your pillow! My mom used to tease that she didn’t get chocolates at turn-down like the guests did, so, one night I put a full-size Hershey chocolate bar on her pillow. I was really puzzled when she started in about the chocolates the next morning. I went up to her room and found the partially melted Hershey bar on her pillow – with a perfect indentation of the back of her head! Thankfully, the foil wrapper held the chocolate, but… don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Sleep on your best sheets
When we first opened, I purchased the best sheets I could afford at a major department store. Over the years, as we needed replacements, the department stores stepped up their hotel linen game, and then we were introduced to Comphy® sheets at an innkeeping conference. That ended our department store purchases. I decided that since we are a luxury Bed & Breakfast we needed to invest in the best linens we could find. Our guests love them! Friends and guests have purchased them, but – no surprise – for a while, we were still sleeping on – drumroll, please – retired hotel sheets from the department store. One day I decided to put new Comphy® sheets on our bed and now that’s all we use!
INSIDER TIP: Is it time for you to purchase new sheets? I can help you with that!
Set the table with your family china
Yes. The good stuff! Bring out a tablecloth and use the pretties. If you’ve stayed here, you know we love to set an inviting table. We most often use a charger, a dinner plate, a bread plate, a luncheon plate with a crystal fruit cup, fine crystal, and silver. Step up your table setting game for a more luxurious feeling. Kelly shares some table setting tips and tablescapes on our Blessings on State YouTube page.
INSIDER TIP: There’s something about dining on fine china that just makes you feel special. We change tablescapes with the seasons. Dollar Tree often sells colorful seasonal chargers (cover plates) for – you guessed it – $1 each. You don’t have to have a china or other high-priced charger to dress up your tabletop.
Light the candles and prepare a memorable meal
One of my guests once suggested that we install dimmers since we don’t allow candles with live flames in our B&B. So, we did. And since then, I’ve found some pretty terrific candles that flicker and look real. You make your own rules. Go ahead and light those candles and eat breakfast (or dinner) by candlelight!
INSIDER TIP: Meals don’t have to take hours of preparation to dine like you’re staying in a luxury Bed & Breakfast. One of our guest favorite breakfasts is Chicago Style Waffles, and you could even use a good boxed mix to prepare yours. We serve waffles with colorful fruit, whipped cream and ice cream. Ice cream for breakfast? Oh, yeah!
We still have some local Jacksonville restaurants that are preparing fine meals for curbside pick-up or delivery, especially on the weekend. I finally decided to stay safe at home and just order gift certificates for what I would normally spend, but if you’re comfortable with it, Lonzerotti’s and K’s Creek are still doing weekend service, I believe. We all need to do our best to support our local businesses.
Set up accessible coffee, tea, and snacks for bedtime or sleeping in
Set up a table in the hallway or someplace close to your bedroom where you can just take a few steps to get to your favorite hot beverages and snacks. You could even set up an ice bucket for cold beverages. It feels luxurious to just take a few steps to have access to all your favorite snacks. And, I’d include a special basket of Hershey milk chocolates to top things off. They always make my day!
Take a walk or do some porch sittin’
Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is located in Jacksonville’s west end historic district and many people take walks in our neighborhood. In fact, we’re on one of Jacksonville’s historic homes walking tours, and the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau shares the maps on their web site. How long has it been since you’ve walked around your neighborhood, in the adjacent woods, or along your country lane? Sit on your front step. Wave at your neighbors. I love to sit on our wraparound front porch and wave at the walkers as they pass by. It offers a sense of closeness as I keep my distance.
Relax and enjoy your stay at home
One of the things our guests enjoy most is visiting – talking, sharing, and getting to know one another. Whether they’re spending time visiting with us, or alone together, staying in a luxurious B&B offers the opportunity for undivided attention. Take time for that in your own home. Whether you’re going for a walk or sitting on a sofa, take time to listen and really hear one another. Get to know each other all over again. Relieve some of the coronavirus-stress by telling a few “remember when’s.” Laugh. Make eye contact. Be together.
All is not well with the B&B since we currently have no business. Zero. Zip. I love, love, love being an innkeeper and I really miss having guests. To maintain Jacksonville’s only luxury Bed & Breakfast, we rely on guest revenue to pay our bills. Please don’t forget us. The one thing that brings me the most peace is my faith that the Lord is in control. I believe that this, too, will pass, and we’ll once again have the experience of hosting guests that become our friends. My faith gives me peace in my heart and I’ve been able to sleep. Well… other than those nights when the young one lands in our bed to talk half the night!
There’s a Bible verse that says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep.” (Psalm 4:8) Take some steps to prepare yourself to lie down in peace, and trust the Lord to help you sleep. Say your prayers, read a comforting devotion, and clear your mind so that you can have a restful night. Please pray for us. We’re praying for you, that we all stay safe at home.
About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Jacksonville, Illinois Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. Stay a couple of nights, or come for an extended stay. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville Illinois lodging.