The Suite Life
Many LGBTQ-Friendly B&Bs, Guest Houses, Inns and Hotels Call Connecticut Home
By Dawn Ennis
When you and your honey want a romantic, relaxing getaway, nothing spoils the mood more than finding out the welcome mat isn’t out for same-sex couples and transgender travelers. Hey, it’s 2019, people! And, besides, it’s the law in Connecticut.
Same-sex marriage has been legal here since 2008, and that has spawned what’s estimated to be a $40 million stimulus for businesses. Yet some bed and breakfasts still subtly suggest through their ads or their websites that their rooms are strictly for straight couples.
After some digging, we found more than a dozen accepting and affirming innkeepers and hoteliers across Connecticut that cater to the LGBTQ community. Some of the owners are gay and lesbian themselves.
976 Boston Post Road, Westbrook
In March 2019, Meri Wick and her husband Marcus Little took over as innkeepers of the Westbrook Inn, which was built by a sea captain in America’s centennial year, 1876. A sprawling property located along the Patchogue River and just two blocks from the beach, this B&B offers kayaking, biking and other activities by day, nine antique-appointed rooms by night, and a sumptuous breakfast every morning, throughout all four seasons.
As you enter, sunlight pours in from a rainbow-colored stained glass window halfway up the stairway. Wick says she and her family are eager to welcome more guests who are lesbian, gay, bi or trans.
“We have had wonderful guests that have already stayed with us who are of the LGBT community,” Wick says. “My nephew is part of that community and actually is doing some work for us to help us understand how we can best serve that community.”
Back in the day, actors traveling between Boston and New York would spend a night at the Westbrook Inn, and one of TV’s original Brady Bunch “girls” recently did so, Wick says. The property is not only LGBTQ-friendly, it’s pet-friendly, too.
Wick, whose career before this was in sales, marketing and human resources for beer companies, has infused the Westbrook Inn with both a vintage feel and modern comforts and conveniences, such as high-speed WiFi and modern adjustable beds adorned with luxurious, triple-sheeted linens. A classic clawfoot tub is quite popular.
“We are looking to introduce people to the experience who maybe haven’t felt comfortable going in the past or have never gone in the past. And I think that the concept that you are in a dusty, grandma’s place is what we’re looking to dispel,” she says. “We have many spaces for people to find privacy, even when they’re here with other guests and hopefully they feel like family. That’s our motto. We want them to enter as guests and leave as friends.”
Room rates range from $139 to $245 night.
Seth Cheney House
139 Hartford Road, Manchester
Real estate broker Vincent Breglia and his husband Gordon Siegel split their time between Provincetown and their Manchester B&B, the Seth Cheney House, formerly the Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast.
The Cheneys were successful silk manufacturers in the mid to late 1800s and built their 13 mansion homes in a 70-acre park-like area in what is now the Historic District of Manchester.
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes, the Seth Cheney House boasts five guest suites, including modern upgraded beds, renovated bathrooms – most en suite, some with porches and fireplaces.
Breglia met his husband in P-town on Valentine’s Day 25 years ago, and when they bought the Seth Cheney House, he said, they decided they wanted it to be a place where other couples could have their special day. They’re celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary this year.
“There’s not a lot of gay venues for people in the area to get married like we did, in my backyard. We had a beautiful wedding of like 25 to 40 people, and that’s kind of what I wanted here as well. I have hosted a few of them.”
Breglia, who worked to elect and re-elect President Barack Obama, said despite owning the Seth Cheney House for two years, he was stunned to find absolutely zero support from the local chamber of commerce and other business owners.
“I lived in Manchester when I was 20 and I wanted to come back here and do something Pride-friendly, keeping our community together. And I love old homes, I love doing historic renovations,” Breglia says. “It’s been nice to come back here, for me.”
Rooms range from $200 to $275 per night.
Inn at Middletown
70 Main St., Middletown
If historic homes aren’t your style, but you want to avoid the run of the mill, how about bedding down for the night in a boutique hotel? We’re talking upscale, LGBTQ-friendly, like the Inn at Middletown.
What started in 1810 as a bank president’s mansion evolved into an armory for the Connecticut National Guard and is now a luxury landmark inn that flies the rainbow flag proudly.
“Historically, we have done a lot of same-sex marriages here,” general manager Gary Nagler says on a tour of the inn’s spacious suites, pool, workout room and intimate banquet halls. “To me, a customer is a customer, and I think that’s what makes us special.”
He says he prides himself on staffing his hotel with employees who don’t have to be trained in how to be nice. “If you look at our TripAdvisor scores and the comments people write about us,” he says, “it’s always the staff, the staff, the staff.”
Nagler has been G.M. of the Inn at Middletown for 11 years, and came up through the ranks in the hospitality industry as an executive chef starting in New Orleans. He cooked up an extensive renovation two years ago, according to catering sales manager Rachael Puccino.
Deluxe mattresses in the 100 guest rooms and suites feature 300-count linens and plush pillows. You’ll find spa-style double shower heads in the bathrooms and multiple charging outlets throughout every room, along with in-room refrigerators and coffee makers; the executive suites sport shoe buffers.
The inn is located just two blocks from Wesleyan University and is centrally located to everything Middletown has to offer.
“We have tons of great shops and restaurants and everything up and down Main Street,” Puccino says. “But we also have a restaurant on site as well so this is a busy place.”
Rate varies by season. Call 860-854-6300 for info.
If you’d like to shop around, check out the website purpleroofs.com, which is a popular resource. Four of the B&Bs on our list, marked with an asterisk (*), offer discounts if you mention the site when you book. Unfortunately, some of the Purple Roof listings are outdated, with wrong or disconnected numbers for inns that have gone out of business.
An alternative is Global Gay Lodging with more than 30 choices, many of which made our list. There’s also Link Pink and Gay Cities, but their listings were bare-boned.
Or, you can always consult an LGBTQ-friendly travel agent. We found Laurie Scott of Wide Horizons Travel through the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. You can reach Wide Horizons at (860) 510-6740.
All are welcome at these Connecticut
INNs and B&Bs
Bushnell House Inn
106 South Main St., Westbrook, CT 06498
Captain Grant’s 1754
109-111 Route 2A, Preston
Daniel Rust House B&B
2011 Main St., Coventry
296 Boston St., Guilford
House of 1833*
72 North Stonington Road, Mystic
(860) 536-6325 or (800) FOR-1833
Inn at Harbor Hill Marina
60 Grand St., Niantic
Maron Hotel and Suites*
42 Lake Ave. Extension, Danbury
Mermaid Inn of Mystic*
2 Broadway Ave., Mystic
209 Main St., Deep River
Scranton Seahorse Inn*
818 Boston Post Road, Madison
Stanton House Inn
76 Maple Ave., Greenwich
Taylor’s Corner Bed & Breakfast
880 Route 171, Woodstock
The Wallingford Victorian Inn
245 N. Main St., Wallingford