Madison Bed and Breakfasts
By Mel Grau
Madison is one of the most romantic cities in Wisconsin, striking a balance between big city glamour and small town charm. The city’s B&Bs—proud products of the capital’s history, local food culture and penchant for sustainability—achieve the same equilibrium. Whether you plan to stay in or go out, experience romance your way at these five local bed and breakfasts.
A Romantic Affair - The Livingston Inn
The Livingston Inn mansion is a historic landmark. At 160-years-old, the Gothic Revival-style building once housed two Madison mayors. It was certainly designed for the dignified; visitors will enjoy nine fireplaces, 11-foot ceilings, stately rooms and lake access.
"Couples can sit on our private pier and watch the sun set over Lake Mendota, enjoy early morning coffee with homemade biscotti in our conservatory or even make the short walk downtown to enjoy live music or the farmer’s market," said co-owner Peggy Furlan, offering advice for a romantic weekend.
Peace & Love – Arbor House
If The Livingston Inn is iconic of Madison grandeur, Arbor House represents Madison’s earthy side. Also a historic landmark, part of the B&B served as a Plough House at the turn of the 20th century. Frontier life reigned, and the unofficial motto of the boisterous tavern was “Plough Inn and Stagger Out.”
Sitting on the edge of Madison’s Arboretum, the Arbor House maintained its traditional tie to nature but bucked its rowdy past. Now an award-winning business for its green practices and ecological design, the Arbor House offers couples serenity in sustainability. Breakfast can be made gluten-free or vegan, but it always features local farm food.
Rustic Romance – The Speckled Hen
Secluded from city sounds, The Speckled Hen sits on 50-acres of farmland, orchards, gardens and forests. Llamas and sheep lazily graze the pastures, while the farmhouse provides recluse for couples looking for a country getaway. One of the most rave-worthy features of the B&B is the farm-to-table breakfasts that of course include delicious eggs (laid by the signature hens).
According to the owners, The Speckled Hen caters to couples; nearly two-thirds of guests are celebrating anniversaries. They can commemorate their romance by sipping wine in the gazebo, roasting marshmallows over the fireplace or simply enjoying breakfast by candlelight.
Love Poems – Mendota Lake House
Built in the early 1900s, the Mendota Lake House is a wonderful example of the organic architecture inherent to the Arts and Crafts movement. The Mendota Lake House represents its natural surroundings, but it’s also a nod to the famed Frank Lloyd Wright-style Madison monuments of Monona Terrace and Union South.
Romance is symbolized in each room, named after poets like Tennessee Williams and Walt Whitman. Breakfast here is continental, though the great coffee and homemade granola adds to the welcome simplicity of the place. Hailed as the couples' extended stay hotspot, the Mendota Lake House will please even if you’re on a budget.