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Four Suburban Inns Offer Quiet Elegance

By Belinda Lichty Clarke

Opportunities abound for Chicagoland planners looking to add a little rustic charm to their next meeting or corporate dinner hosted at a historic suburban inn.

“Our serene environment brings relaxation to everyone who visits,” says Lisa Landers, CMP, director of sales and marketing for the European-inspired Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva. “CEOs have mentioned to me that our hotel was chosen for specific meetings because they had difficult news to deliver or sensitive material to share, and our environment keeps people calmer than, say, a big-city hotel might.”

Herrington Inn and Spa, Geneva

The AAA Four-Diamond Herrington Inn and Spa, located on the Fox River, is an elegant oasis less than an hour from O’Hare International Airport and about an hour from downtown. Originally built as Geneva’s first dairy in the 1800s, the inn continues to honor those beginnings with a signature turndown service of milk and cookies delivered to each guest nightly.

“The word I have used to describe the Inn is ‘magical,’” says Landers. “The holidays are truly special with all of our decorations. The fall and winter are lovely with the double-sided fireplace on in the lobby, and summer and spring [are great times to] enjoy the flower gardens throughout the property.”

Each of the 61 guest rooms has a balcony, patio and fireplace, and many rooms are located right on the river. Atwater’s Restaurant provides guests with a seasonally inspired menu and views of the lush courtyard and the river. For groups of up to eight guests, the gazebo, which is private dining space located on the river, is in high demand, says Landers.

The 3,000-square-foot Pump House banquet and meeting space features exposed brick and abundant natural light, and the River Room has four floor-to-ceiling windowed doors leading out to the Plaza Patio.  “This space is wonderful for a snazzy barbecue with yard games, s’more stations, pig roasts or cocktails and appetizers before enjoying an elegant dinner in the River Room,” says Landers.

Inn at 835 Boutique Hotel, Springfield

Perhaps one of Springfield’s best-kept secrets, the Inn at 835 Boutique Hotel is a historic gem adjacent to downtown Springfield. The building’s original owner, Miss Bell Miller, was a local businesswoman and florist to Springfield’s high society who started her business in the early 1890s when she was in her 20s. Her small business flourished; she built greenhouses that took up a city block, and later went on to construct this luxurious apartment building at 835 South Second Street.

Today, the apartment building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been fully renovated without detracting from the original luxury that Miller created, according to Julie Downs, director of sales for the property. The inn features 11 guest rooms, with two spacious suites in the Bell House located behind the building. With a total of 8,500 square feet of entertaining space, the parlors in the original building can accommodate up to 125 guests for a reception or 75 for dinner. The Conservatory, a relatively new addition to the Inn, can accommodate 250-300 guests.

“Our unique B&B is one of a kind, filled with charm and elegance,” says Downs. “The first-floor common area and event space offer the charm of a bygone era with a mix of antique and modern furnishings. And we have in-house catering for food and beverage needs with a professional team of catering and event staff.”

Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest

If you love all things British, the Deer Path Inn is a great way to experience old English charm. Established in 1929, Deer Path Inn is an “English-inspired respite that has welcomed guests with personalized, high-touch service and grand English traditions for almost 90 years,” says Matt Barba, innkeeper.

The hotel closed for renovations in 2015 and reopened on Jan. 1, 2016 with revived interiors, an updated ballroom and restaurant expansions including a new indoor/outdoor glass conservatory. The building is modeled after a mid-15th century manor house in Kent, England, featuring Tudor-style architecture. 

Several dining options are available on-site. The English Room is the main restaurant and includes an adjacent indoor/outdoor glass conservatory that can be used for private events. Alfresco dining is available in the Garden Courtyard. The White Hart Pub serves traditional English pub fare in a casual setting. The Bar’s gold-hued bar room and cozy lounge patio offers a sophisticated yet relaxed ambiance, Barba says. 

Planners can also reserve the hidden wine cellar located behind The Bar. Surrounded by more than 500 varieties of rare wine, guests can enjoy wine tasting or elegant dinner with wine pairings.

Harrison House Bed & Breakfast, Naperville

Located in downtown Naperville but on a peaceful residential block, the Harrison House has operated as a bed and breakfast since 1987 in a historic Victorian home. 

Constructed around 1904, the house has six guest rooms, each with its own private bathroom. The rooms are tastefully decorated with period antiques and fixtures, all reminiscent of a bygone era.

Innkeeper Debbie Browning pays particular attention to the specific needs of each guest. “We establish close relationships, [enjoy a lot of] repeat business and are passionate about our guests’ experiences here,” she says. 

The main dining room, with a stamped tin ceiling and views of the gardens out a large bay window, seats up to 18 people. During warmer months, guests can enjoy breakfast outside at tables for another 12 guests. 

“All the dishes are prepared in our kitchen by us so we can ensure only the freshest, organic ingredients are used in the food preparations,” says Browning.