Above: Aurora Inn Parlor, wallpaper from Stroheim & Roman, as is the fabric on the two side chairs.
We’re suckers for an old-fashioned bed and breakfast—the quaint touches, incredible hospitality, and rustic comfort make us incredibly warm and fuzzy inside, but we also can’t deny our penchant for luxe design and out-there embellishments. However, at the Inns of Aurora in upstate New York, we don’t have to choose—the two mesh together to provide an experience that’s both upscale and countryside chic.
Alex Schloop, the Creative Director at the Inns, defines the property as elegant and personalized, which is particularly fitting given its history. Constructed in the 1800s, the property boasted chic touches and was once a part of Wells College, the village’s most famous institution. But after the disintegration of the property, Pleasant Rowland—founder of the American Girl brand and alum of Wells College—rebought the properties and began their complete renovation.
The Inns are also different from other properties because they’re all not connected to each other in a single property—in fact, they take up most of the village, with the wellness center only a few minutes walk away. And with each area of the property having a completely different vibe and feel, it’s hard to see how they’re all connected. But they all have one very important thing in common: Pleasant Rowland.
“Even though she has no formal design background, Pleasant cultivated her own eye through her travels,” says Schloop. Each of the spaces has its own character and style, and also its own history and background. So, she made sure to approach each space differently.”
Above: Aurora Inn Room Two, wallpaper from Cowtan & Tout, mirror from Milling Road, throw blanket from Textillery.
The Aurora Inn
Built in 1833 by Colonel E.B. Morgan, the Aurora Inn is by far the grandest home at the Inns—and the most similar to a classic bed and breakfast. Built in a Federalist style and paying homage to its 19th-century roots, the renovation made sure to add a touch of personalized luxury to each room, all while keeping the antique charm present.
Above: Aurora Inn Bathroom, all done in honed Crema Marfil marble, robes from Frette.
Each of the 10 luxury rooms in the property include warm dark wood, imported fabrics, and an exquisite art collection. “It’s more upscale and classic American,” says Schloop. Most of the rooms also include personal balconies, with rocking chairs and fireplaces—perfect for outdoor relaxing at any time of year.
Guests enjoy complimentary scones and coffee every morning as well, allowing them to experience personalized touches reminiscent of much smaller hotels. “I think good design in a space informs your behavior. It was important to have a space that makes you feel luxurious enough that you can have a nice dinner at your honeymoon, but also feel like you’re relaxing,” says Schloop.
Above, toiletries from William Roam’s Sense collection.
Above: E.B. Morgan House Room Five, wallpaper is “Ode to Spring” from Brunschwig & Fils, painting by Raimonds Straprans.
E.B. Morgan House
A historic stone mansion once owned by Colonel Edwin Barber Morgan, co-founder of the New York Times and American Express, E.B. Morgan House is more dramatic than the other houses, boasting a vast collection of modern art, private marbled baths, and an intimate porch that hosts wine and cheese nights so that guests can mingle. But there’s also a grand dining room with a massive chandelier, white marble fireplace, and fine art, proving that bold prints and refined Italian architecture can complement each other perfectly in the space.
Above, E.B. Morgan House Dining Room, sconces and chandelier from a small shop in England now closed; maker unknown, dining chair fabric from Manuel Canovas, plates and crystal are from MacKenzie-Childs—a retired pattern called Chelsea Lustre.
The seven stylish bedrooms are definitely more whimsical, and the parlor exudes a warm playfulness. The bright wallpaper and sunny accents immediately put guests at ease, and the butler’s pantry—where guests can help themselves to snacks and drinks—include ceramic cups and saucers from MacKenzie Childs. And of course, the touch of luxury is seen in everything from the handpicked shampoos and gels in the bathroom (all organic, naturally), and the red-toned library.
Above, E.B. Morgan House Library, drape fabric from Scalamandre, chair and loveseat fabric by Brunschwig & Fils.
Above: Rowland House Room Five, headboard and accent fabric from Quadrille, wall treatment by Phillip Jeffries.
Nautical, young, and more eclectic than the other homes, Rowland House has smaller rooms with a lot more personality—which makes sense, given its renovation in 2013. Ideal for younger guests who enjoy a more casual atmosphere, the home features a gorgeous view of Cayuga Lake, a tiny little boathouse to take in the scenery, and a playful, modern touch in terms of color scheme and design.
The bottom reading room, parlor, and dining room have darker touches of blue and red, while all the modern art in the home comes from Pleasant Rowland’s personal collection. Guests also have access to a kitchen, boardroom, library, and twin patios, all boasting colorful themes and cheerful accents—which have been chosen purposefully and carefully. “Pleasant is so detail-oriented, we have delayed opening several properties if we haven’t found just the right thing to place in a room,” says Schloop.
Above: Rowland House Room Eight, custom headboard and chair upholstery in MacKenzie-Childs Flower Market, hand-painted walls in MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check by local artist Kari Ganoung Ruiz, side table is MacKenzie-Childs’ Tiny Table.
Above: Wallcourt Hall Lobby, art by Marion Colley, floor tiles are Paccha-Zigzag from Ann Sacks.
The largest home on the property, Wallcourt Hall was a Wells College dorm earlier, as well as a studio space for MacKenzie-Childs. “Sadly, the interior had gone past the point where we could restore it, so we used that opportunity to do something fun and modern, fresh and young,” says Schloop. Following this extensive renovation, the property is more like a boutique hotel, with modern accents and imported Italian textiles—but with a level of comfort to it.
Above: Wallcourt Hall Living Room: Painting by Burton Phillips, couch and chairs from A. Rudin with fabric by Dedar, vase by Frances Palmer Pottery, black & white inlay table from Wisteria.
The living room, for instance, boasts black and white prints and designs, with pops of red to give the home a less formal feel. The bathrooms are painted with MacKenzie-Childs polka dots, and the lobby area is covered in grand modern art and eclectic light fixtures. “Pleasant really wanted the mood of each property to be completely different,” said Schloop. “But all still gorgeous, with a lot of attention to detail. You don’t have to be uncomfortable to enjoy beautiful things.”
Above: The Loft, mats by Manduka; watercolor bolsters, straps, and blocks by Halfmoon.
Also of note is the newly-created wellness area—known as The Loft—where guests can really unwind. The bright, sunny walls and high ceilings at the loft allow for a calming experience, and guests can enjoy a number of healthy activities here, including tea-making and restorative yoga. “The theme of the space was very important here,” says Schloop. “The yoga bolsters have a beautiful image on them, and the green theme is very powerful. We wanted to create an atmosphere of harmony, which would be relaxing, calming, and soothing.”