5-star B&Bs: How innkeepers wow you

How do so many Michigan bed and breakfasts earn their status as 5-star B&Bs?

The innkeepers themselves are the essential ingredient, according to Dave from Midland, MI. In a TripAdvisor review about a Michigan bed and breakfast, Dave wrote: “We have stayed an a number of B&Bs over the past years. It has been our experience that the quality of the hosts makes all the difference in how much we enjoy being at a particular B&B.”

A case in point is a recent Google review by Josh H about Saravilla B&B in Alma. The review starts simply: “Kelly the innkeeper has hospitality in his bones!”

Innkeepers who have the hospitality gene cater to guests so effortlessly that they don’t realize they’re doing anything unusual. But guests notice, even the small things.

Take the Lewis House B&B in Whitehall, shown in the photo atop this post. While a review by Dominic Lopez mentions the beauty of the house and the “stunning” views of White Lake, it was the extra attention by innkeeper Debi that was top of his mind. He wrote: “We appreciated how accommodating our hosts were. We were late to arrive our first night and Debi stayed up to acquaint us with the home and the town, which was very considerate.”

Knob Hill B&B innkeeper Diana Phillips treats a guest from Sacramento to cocktails at 501 Bar and Grill in Flint.
For innkeeper Diana Phillips (right) of Knob Hill B&B in Flint, hospitality extended to treating a guest from Sacramento to cocktails at a local bar and grill.

Thirty miles down the Lake Michigan shore in Grand Haven, Washington Street Inn earned this comment by a reviewer named Rick W: “The hosts, Tony and Michelle, are wonderful people who welcome you into their home as a cherished friend.” Given that Tony and Michelle started their popular B&B in 1987, imagine how many hundreds of other people might also count themselves as cherished friends.

Reviewers Michelle and Wayne expressed almost the same sentiment about Millpond Inn in Clarkston. Their review described the B&B as “home away from home. Joan provides the warmth and genuine hospitality that is rarely found in today’s fast-paced world. From the beautiful,  tranquil garden to the most delicious homemade breakfasts, no detail is forgotten. Joan and Buck made our stay such a pleasure. Thanks for making us feel part of the inn family!”

You can’t fake the warmth of genuine hospitality

The chemistry often produced in the presence of people gifted in the arts of hospitality cannot be manufactured or faked.

First-time B&B-goer Marianne from Rochester Hills wrote this about Always a Holiday! B&B, East Tawas: “Brenda … has a knack of finding out what will make YOUR visit pleasant, from food choices to breakfast time and everything in between. While very friendly and interesting to talk to, she is also unobtrusive and yet available at all times.”

A reviewer from Ontario whose handle is MrGarr said when he couldn’t find suitable lodging in Frankenmuth, he realized how close Flint is and booked a room at Knob Hill B&B. “Allan checked us in upon arrival,  but both (he and Diana) were in contact with us to ensure things were on track. A short check-in with Allan turned into an afternoon visit by the fire with a glass of wine. He is quite a character and is well travelled. Diana greeted us in the morning and we instantly understood why the this couple clicks. These two intellects are a perfect match and are just great people.”

How ‘the wedding fairy’ wowed them

Some 5-star B&Bs earn stars for unique gestures of hospitality. Four examples, as expressed in reviews…

Bride and groom walk in the woods at Morris Estate
Alyssa and James B posted this photo from their wedding at The Morris Estate.

A guest at Candlelite Inn B&B, Ludington reported: “At one point I asked if they had Sprite or 7Up. They didn’t, but within ten minutes, (there was a) knock on my door with two 7Ups.” Innkeeper Melanie or a helper had run out to get them.

Another reviewer had rented nine rooms at Hankerd Inn in Pleasant Lake for a wedding, including a cottage where the bride and bridesmaids dressed for the wedding. “You cannot imagine our surprise and delight to return from the reception to find that the wedding fairy had come in while we were gone and straightened up a cottage left in a whirlwind!”

On a scouting trip to check out a possible barn location for their nuptials, Alyssa and James B instead discovered the little white chapel on The Morris Estate in Niles. Holding their summer 2019 wedding there was, Alyssa wrote, “the best decision we’ve made yet! Adara was our wedding planner…. We live about three hours out of town, so we were both nervous about the planning. They all made it seamless! Adara was so amazing with helping us stay on track and in being very responsive. Several times (when) I was having nerves about something, James knew if we called and I spoke with Adara I would feel better, and I did!”

Small decisions and details add up at 5-star B&Bs

Very large custom-tile shower with multiple shower heads at Spring Lighthouse.
From this incredible shower in the Michigan Suite at The Spring Lighthouse in Elk Rapids, guests have a view of Lake Michigan. Suite also has a balcony, kitchenette, and even a washer and dryer.

Some 5-star B&Bs’ reviews stem from decisions the owners made long before opening their properties to guests.

Thoughtful features of their room wowed some recent guests at Elk Rapids’ The Spring Lighthouse, which opened in 2019. Their review said: “We had business in the area and it was cold, drizzly, etc. Our room was wonderful. Heated towel bars, heated bathroom floor, huge shower and double sink vanity. Bed linens were soft and snuggly. Room had three walls of windows …” Who doesn’t want those things?

Huron House in Oscoda has long been known as a destination for lovers and certainly its location on a Lake Huron beach is a significant factor. But appreciation for the rooms’ romantic details is another theme running through hundreds of its five-star reviews. For example, a reviewer named Gemini, who stayed in February 2020, fell in love with his room’s private hot tub. “Watching the stars and the snow fall at night while drinking wine in the hot tub!!! Seriously Amazing. Can’t wait to go back.”

What’s on the table fuels many 5-star reviews

Artful plated breakfast at one of MBBA’s 5-star B&Bs, Judson Heath Colonial Inn features an egg dish
A guest visiting Judson Heath Colonial Inn in Saugatuck from East Lansing posted this photo in a TripAdviser review.

Sometimes the road to winning guests’ hearts leads through their stomachs.

The many five-star reviews of Judson Heath Colonial Inn in Saugatuck often cite the food. All 10 TripAdviser reviews posted in September and October 2019 raved about the breakfasts. Comments included “Fantastic breakfasts!” “Probably the best bed and breakfast food I have ever had.” “The best food we have ever eaten at a bed and breakfast.” “Hats off to Jenn, who should be rated a 5-star chef.”

Guests also heap culinary kudos on Leonard at Logan House in Grand Rapids: “Ruth was not only very accommodating, but man, can she make a breakfast! Creative spins on classics. Very fresh and absolutely fantastic!”

A man from Bloomingdale, MI, wrote this about Voyager’s Inn B&B in Three Rivers: “Yummy breakfasts and the special part is Caryn made them gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free for my wife’s food allergies (celiac).”

Lake view and pastoral setting at A Dove Nest B&B contribute to its being among 5-star B&Bs
The secret sauce of 5-star B&Bs often includes setting, view, warmth of the innkeepers, cleanliness, quality of food and more. This photo of English Lake at A Dove Nest B&B was posted by a guest who reviewed the inn.

The secret sauce found in 5-star B&Bs

Most often the secret sauce that makes for 5-star B&Bs is a combination of ingredients: innkeepers, setting, food, comforts, and amenities.

For example, one succinct TripAdviser review summed up what almost all reviewers say about Dapple-Gray B&B near Copper Harbor: “Beautiful log inn full of amazing antiques. Home-cooked breakfasts, spacious modern rooms, plenty of comfy common areas, gorgeous views of Lake Superior, and three personable miniature donkeys. Doesn’t get much better than Dapple-Gray.”

That secret sauce also can be found at is A Dove Nest B&B, Kingston, according to Mary B after her second stay in September 2019: “Perfect getaway romantic retreat. Beautiful home, immaculately clean. Friendly, helpful, warm owner/hostess. Lovely views, fantastic breakfasts. Top quality, romantic, attention to detail. Nature views with lots of deer. Evening snacks of cookies and fruit.”

And we loved this August 2019 review by Dan about The House on the Hill B&B, Ellsworth, which he described as “a luxury B&B at a bargain price.” Dan wrote: “Best B&B we ever stayed in! Beautiful setting. Best bed we ever slept in! Best breakfast we ever had! Best hostess we ever had! No, I am not related to the owners.”

Best this. Best that. Any time you want to experience 5-star B&Bs in Michigan, start your search here. Pick a city. Any city. It would be hard to go wrong.

All Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association (MBBA) member inn are periodically inspected and approved by independent, trained reviewers. And what is MBBA’s promise to guests? That “you can rest assured of quality lodging, warm hospitality, enjoyable breakfasts and an exceptional experience.”

You really do deserve the best. Seek out Michigan’s 5-star B&Bs.