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.
I 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.
Don’t miss a Midwest Wanderer post. For a FREE subscription, enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe2 box to the right and click Subscribe.
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.
Next 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.
The 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 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.
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 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.
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.
Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm. – Connie