Looking for all of the warmth and individuality of a small B&B with the amenities of a much larger hotel? The York Harbor Inn in York Harbor, Maine, is anything but small. It has 40 guest rooms (including seven in the adjacent Harbor Cliffs bed & breakfast owned by the inn), a restaurant, its own English pub and the Yorkshire Ballroom, which accommodates up to 200 people for weddings, banquets and business meetings. And yet, when you return from your escape to this historic, oceanside inn, the first thing you'll probably tell everyone you know is, "We found this great little place...."
How does the York Harbor Inn create this illusion of littleness? Much like more intimate bed & breakfasts, it features individually decorated rooms, some with fireplaces, Jacuzzi spas, four-poster and antique brass beds, and ocean view decks. There's even an "L.L. Bean Room" that innkeeper Garry Dominguez says has a "luxurious Maine hunting camp feel" with dark wood beams and its own spa tub--perhaps a perfect compromise for the couple that couldn't agree on whether to head for the woods or the sea.
Guest rooms are located in the main inn, the Yorkshire House, and the adjacent Harbor Cliffs B&B, providing an additional sense of staying at a smaller place.
The common areas of the inn also exude an aura of quiet drama that separate this inn from larger hotels that are less homey and seem more as if they were pressed from a mold. As you wander the inn complex, you'll discover the Cabin Room at the center of the main building. Once a sail loft used for refitting ships, the structure was moved to York Harbor from the Isles of Shoals in 1637--back in the days when it was easier to move a building than to rebuild. The inn has welcomed visitors for more than 100 years, its architecture and character ebbing and flowing with the changing economic conditions and the region's appeal to tourists. It has reached the pinnacle of its power to attract guests under the care of the Dominguez family, which purchased the inn in 1979.
When his two older brothers purchased the property, Garry Dominguez "started tending bar in the pub." Now, along with his wife, Nancy, he presides over an updated inn that nevertheless retains an air of yesteryear. Dominguez said that the Cellar Pub, which is now a lovely bar and casual dining area, was "almost primitive" when his family first took the reigns. A former combination pub and horse stable, "It still smelled like horses," he said. I can gladly attest to the fact that it no longer does, though we did see some horses there during our stay. More on that in a bit.