On a trip this past summer to the New England coast, we found ourselves in some top romantic Maine inns with their friendly innkeepers, charming rooms, and comfortable spaces to kick back after a day’s exploring. These inns aren’t just for summer travel, however. Since crowds dissipate in the cooler months, readers might find them even more desirable during the off-season when these New England accommodations may require less advance notice when booking.
The following aren’t the only excellent romantic Maine inns, of course. Still, you cannot go wrong with any of them, especially for their cozy atmospheres, opportunity to chat (or not) with other guests, and comfortable rooms. And don’t forget to check out my blog on the best lobster rolls on the Maine coast when planning your vacation.
Best Breakfast: Captain Swift Inn
Most Ideally Located: Yellow House Inn
Inn That Best Reflects Colonial America: The Nathaniel Lord Mansion
Friendliest Innkeepers: Shelly and Jeff at the Captain Swift Inn
All of the below include breakfast, free WiFi, afternoon snacks and/or drinks, and all-day coffee. Be forewarned that you will have to carry your own luggage to upper floor rooms. If that’s an issue, book a guaranteed room on the first floor.
Because of the remote nature of Maine, all three had televisions streaming Hulu Live, plus any subscriptions you could sign into with your own account. While we found that annoying (Hulu Live is an abomination), we also didn’t book a vacation to watch TV.
Bar Harbor: Yellow House Inn
Located down a long, unpaved driveway off Main Street that leads to “The Field,” Yellow House Inn offers both the convenience of walking access to restaurants and shops as well as a quiet retreat for lounging and sleeping. It faces two other inns, the Ullikana Inn and Bass Cottage Inn, both of which get equally excellent reviews. We choseYellow House because of the specific rooms available and the room rates. Plus, we just liked the look of it.
We stayed in the Agamont on the second floor with its king bed. Even though the room didn’t have a desk — few people other than my husband like to work during vacations, anyway — it had a spacious floor plan, two upholstered chairs, a ladderback chair, two small dressers, a flat screen TV, dual nightstands, and a bathroom with both shower and clawfoot bathtub.
Innkeeper Sarah’s friendliness and hard work make Yellow House Inn an inviting vacation getaway. It offers a limited continental breakfast, including a fresh-baked bakery item, overnight oats, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs. If you leave too early in the day for Sarah to stock it, the kitchen has an always-available selection of Clif bars and other snacks. Brewed coffee is available for breakfast, and you can make an espresso in the kitchen at any time, day or night.
Inside, the public areas include a parlor with a fireplace, an indoor dining room, and an always-open kitchen complete with refrigerator and freezer available to guests. Just mark your stored food with your last name.
Except for the gravel parking lot, the property is beautifully landscaped. You can sit by the firepit, lounge on the wrap-around porch, or settle into the parlor to take advantage of the Happy Hour with wine and fresh-baked cookies.
Out of all the inns we visited on the Maine coast, Yellow House was the most convenient to the best restaurants in town, with no driving necessary, while still acting as a retreat from all the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor.
Camden: Captain Swift Inn
Of the three inns we visited, only the Captain Swift Inn qualifies as a true B&B. New innkeepers Shelly and Jeff not only prepare a huge three-course breakfast for guests, but they also make themselves available throughout the day, lending a personal touch to any stay. Rooms in the historic house are impeccably clean and well-maintained. The innkeepers obsess about and rely on their app and installed technology a little too much — and I say this as a tech junkie myself — but otherwise they provide a comfortable retreat.
We stayed in the second floor Annie F. Kimball with its king bed and fireplace. The spacious room includes two upholstered chairs, a flat-screen TV, a small desk, and an amazing walk-in closet. Since it overlooks the main street heading into Camden, it can get noisy, especially early in the morning when the fishermen head to the marina. The staircase leading to this room is narrow, steep, and treacherous, so use care when carrying up your luggage.
The bathroom has a spa shower, tiled floors, and a small shelf on which you can place your toiletries. Although this may sound like a strange compliment, I especially appreciated the high-quality toilet paper. Too often, even in luxury hotels and inns, you get the same thin, rough stuff you’d find in public restrooms. Not in the Captain Swift Inn.
The public spaces maintain an antique décor while keeping everything cozy. The Captain Swift has two living rooms, an indoor dining room, a coffee station, a refrigerator stocked with beverages, and an entry room off the kitchen.
The real star of the Captain Swift Inn is the breakfast. The night before, guests select the components of two of the three courses while Shelly determines the main course, either savory (egg-based) or sweet. The grilled peach with raspberry sorbet served as our second course was out of this world.
Kennebunkport: The Nathaniel Lord Mansion
The beautifully appointed Nathaniel Lord Mansion, part of the Kennebunkport Captains Collection, ended up as the most traditional we visited, both in décor and set-up. The antique décor, complete with creaky floors, harkens back to colonial New England. Unlike the above two, it operates more like a hotel with a real check-in desk, larger staff, and sixteen rooms. Note: the inn is alternately known as the Lord Mansion and the Captain Lord Mansion.
Each room has a working fireplace. Our third-floor king room boasted a spacious floor plan, complete with a sitting area in one corner. We got a kick out of the high king bed that required a step stool, even for my husband, to get into. The dim lighting at night frustrated us since it made it difficult to do much of anything; however, by day the room was bright and cheery. The tiny bathroom didn’t seem to go with the otherwise large room; however, because of the historic nature of the inn, it did not surprise us.
The Lord Mansion’s continental breakfast is served in the kitchen and laid out on two tables for guests to help themselves. You then carry your breakfast into the parlor and hope to snag a table. Although I felt the inn needed more room for breakfast, the guests rotated frequently enough so that at least one spot ended up open for the next guests to sit down. The fireplace would be especially welcome during the spring and fall, but even in early July, the morning temperature allowed for it.
We liked the location of the inn because of the easy five-minute walk to town while still being located in a quiet neighborhood.
Although all three of these inns on the Maine Coast offer comfortable and romantic accommodations, none are full service hotels. They don’t have amentities such as restaurants, pools, bars, or concierge desks. Despite that, innkeepers and staff make great sources of advice for local attractions, eateries, and general information. All pay attention to the details that make a stay memorable.