Kingsley Inn: A Night of Elegant Comfort

Small inns and bed & breakfasts are fast becoming my favorite type of accommodation. Often decorated with antiques and a Victorian flair, I feel like I’m being pampered in elegance in a B&B. I prefer a larger accommodation, though, rather than one with just three or four guestrooms. I don’t feel so awkward, like I’m intruding on someone’s private life. I’m also a stickler for a private bath. The Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison, Iowa, combines the best of an inn and a B&B. The Kingsley Inn is run like a B&B but has eighteen guestrooms, all beautifully decorated and all with private baths.

Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison IowaI had the pleasure of staying at the Kingsley Inn a few months back on a group press trip. Before we went to our rooms, proprietor Lori Illner filled us in on the background of Kingsley Inn and gave us a tour of the common areas and several guestrooms.

Kingsley Inn history

The Kingsley Inn is made up of two historic buildings. They originally housed a distillery, built in 1847, and an apothecary, built in 1858. Over the years the businesses evolved into various retail shops. However, the rooms upstairs were always living space, usually private.

The buildings were joined in 1910 and became a laundry that lasted until 1978. After that the building was vacant for some time before a development company purchased and rehabbed it. They used many reclaimed fixtures, including a walnut staircase, from other area buildings that were slated to be razed.

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Lori Illner and her partner purchased the building in late 2013. It had been vacated a few months prior to their purchase and was beginning to deteriorate from the summer humidity. They spent six months upgrading heating and cooling systems and rehabbing the rooms.

Kingsley Inn guestrooms

We started our tour on the third floor in one of the dormer queen rooms. These are the smaller of the Kingsley Inn rooms but larger than many hotel rooms I’ve stayed in.

Kingsley Inn, Fort Madison Iowa, dormer roomNext was the Governor’s Suite, a huge luxury suite. Originally built for owner accommodations, it’s now rented for extended stays, or special occasions. It’s has one bedroom (with a two-story closet!) and a large, elegant living area that’s perfect for private parties.

Governors Suite at Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison IowaThe second floor has a mix of standard queen or king rooms; deluxe rooms with a spa bath or fireplace; and a king suite with a spa bath. How thrilled I was to find that I was assigned a deluxe room with a spa bath.

Kingsley Inn deluxe room - Fort Madison Iowaspa bath in guest room - Kinglsley Inn, Fort Madison Iowa

Kingsley Inn common rooms

Besides the lobby on the first floor, there is also a club room to relax in or gather with other guests. The room is popular with rail fans who visit to view the Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains that run directly across the street. The club room is also rented out for meetings and wedding receptions.

Lobby of Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison Iowa
Kingsley Inn lobby
Kingsley Inn Club Room - Fort Madison Iowa
Club Room

A parlor and the adjoining breakfast room are on the second floor, making it convenient for guest access. Tea service is always available here, as are cookies and any pastries left from breakfast. Breakfast includes a hot dish as well as an assortment of fruit, yogurt and pastries, and is served starting at 7 a.m.

Kingsley Inn breakfast room - Fort Madison Iowa

Kingsley Inn ghosts?

Lori didn’t mention ghosts until I brought up the subject. No paranormal activity has ever been reported from inside the guest rooms. However, there have been some strange occurrences, including dogs that whine and scoot to the side when being walked down the hall. Then the dog’s human walks through a cold spot. On one occasion a guest was locked out of his room. The deadbolt lock, which can only be turned from inside—there is no key for it—was latched. A locksmith had to be called in to drill it out.

This was the first time I stayed alone in an accommodation that had any reported paranormal activity. I was somewhat sorry that I brought up the subject because I was a little freaked when I went to my room that night. I didn’t let that stop me, though, from taking advantage of the spa bath, just what I needed to relax after a busy day. Once my head hit the pillow, all ghostly thoughts disappeared, and I slept soundly through the night.

The Kingsley Inn is located at 707 Avenue H in Fort Madison, Iowa. Check rates here.

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Kingsley Inn - Fort Madison Iowa

Disclosures: My visit to southeast Iowa was hosted by the Iowa Tourism Office, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check rates here” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

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17 thoughts on “Kingsley Inn: A Night of Elegant Comfort

  • September 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm
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    You just *had* to ask about ghosts… 🙂

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    • September 9, 2015 at 8:36 pm
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      Of course I did!

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  • September 8, 2015 at 10:18 pm
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    I’ve always been hesitant to go to a B&B as I also would feel like Im staying in a strangers home, but that place looks awesome and I would now rethink my accommodation choices next time I go away.
    Great post
    Keep up the great work!

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    • September 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm
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      I used to always stay at chains because I knew what I would be getting, no surprises. But I really prefer small inns because they’re so unusual and I feel like I’m being pampered with such elegant decor and a delicious breakfast, not the heat-and-serve hot breakfast dishes you get at most chains. Now that there are so many review sites (and blogs), it’s easier to judge a place before you get there.

      Reply
  • September 12, 2015 at 9:48 am
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    We love staying at B&B’s when we can. We find them to be so charming with great service and a home-cooked breakfast never disappoints! This one looks like it has all the features for a wonderful stay.

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    • September 29, 2015 at 7:53 pm
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      The Kingsley Inn was all one can hope for in a B&B yet was large enough to be considered an inn.

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  • September 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm
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    Ghosts! Haha! That’s creepy! The previous owners of my house claimed there were ghosts here or that they’d seen some apparitions. I pay no mind to it. The B&B looks beautiful! Old timey and historical! Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.lifeismyoyster.com

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    • September 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm
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      I never used to believe in ghosts, but the more stories I hear, the more I’m beginning to wonder. I don’t want to find out for myself, though.

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    • September 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm
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      I really like staying in historical inns or hotels. They usually have so much more character than chains.

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    • September 29, 2015 at 7:58 pm
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      I like staying in historic inns and hotels. They usually have so much more character than the chains.

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  • September 13, 2015 at 8:05 am
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    This look SO lovely! I love Victorian era homes/hotels/restaurants/etc. Have you ever watched that Gordon Ramsey show Hotel Hell?! This reminds me of a place or two I’ve seen there (though this one obviously appears well taken care of). It’s nice to see a well-preserved place when so many lack the funds (or knowledge) to properly preserve such architecture!

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    • September 29, 2015 at 8:06 pm
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      Ha ha, no I haven’t seen Gordon Ramsey’s Hotel Hell. I’ll have to look for it. This owner caught the place just in time. Previous owners had renovated it, but after they closed, it sat vacant for several months over the summer in a very humid area, but the only real damage was some of the wallpaper had started to come off. If it had sat during the winter with no heat, who knows what kind of damage may have occurred. As it is, the new owner did replace all of the major utility systems, like heat, air and water—and she decorated it beautifully.

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  • September 13, 2015 at 9:11 am
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    Love that they did the building justice during the refurb. My kinda company! It looks spectacular!

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    • September 29, 2015 at 8:06 pm
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      I agree!

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  • September 18, 2015 at 6:48 am
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    This looks like a wonderful place to stay! I love historic places and this looks like it has lots of character. I like that it is right across from the train station. I’ve been wanting to do a train trip sometime soon. Thanks for sharing!

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    • September 29, 2015 at 8:17 pm
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      I believe the Amtrak station is a couple of miles down from the Kingsley Inn. Directly across the street is the an old depot-turned-museum. A couple miles still isn’t too bad, though. It would be a nice train trip there.

      Reply

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