Be Our Guest: Find Top-Notch Hospitality at North Georgia’s B&Bs

Written By: Bre Humphries

ONCE SERVING AS A RESTING PLACE for weary travelers passing through a town, the bed and breakfast became popular in the United States after The Great Depression, as many homeowners opened their doors to guests to earn some extra income. Though the fad fizzled out, the bed and breakfast is once again gaining popularity. But today’s B&Bs are not mere stopovers on a traveler’s journey, but rather highly sought destinations in and of themselves.

Many of North Georgia’s B&B’s are still private homes that double as inns, and most innkeepers live on property, though a few have separate living quarters or employees who oversee their round-the-clock management.

“We love having guests in our home,” says Debi Hancock of Bent Tree Lodge in Jasper. “It’s actually our favorite part. We get to meet so many fascinating people … we’ve been a part of some friendships being formed.”

The camaraderie among guests is one factor that sets the B&B experience apart from your typical hotel. With warm, inviting common areas, and often scheduled happy hours, B&B guests often enjoy the social aspect of their stays. Paige Kunzer, manager of The Mountain Top Lodge in Dahlonega, recalls one group of guests who connected over wine and cheese in the lobby and ended up going out to dinner together.

“We want guests to come as strangers and leave as friends,” says Candice Treadway of ATH | B&B in Athens.

Some of North Georgia’s innkeepers intentionally set out to operate B&Bs while others stumbled into it more by chance, but one thing they all have in common: each is hospitality-minded and motivated by the opportunity to serve their guests.

“Lucy and I were very involved with the marriage ministry at our church,” says Ed Kivett of Glen Ella Springs in Clarkesville, speaking about their original idea to build a place for marriage retreats. “Our vision evolved into something broader … we see Glen Ella as an opportunity for people to spend time together and build their relationships.”

Likewise, Ellen and Joe Mirakovits of The Yellow Daisy in Dahlonega did not have any industry experience when they opened their inn, but they had perhaps the best hospitality resume you can hope for.

“We had always had people staying with us for various reasons—international students, people from church, people passing through,” she says. The leap from hostess to innkeeper was not all that far.

“We want guests to feel like they’re at home,” emphasizes Karen Kreager of Ellijay River House. “We want them to feel as comfortable and welcome as possible.” The boutique environment of a bed and

breakfast allows innkeepers like Kreager to offer a personalized experience for each guest, which plenty of attention to detail. “We put out fresh flowers, we serve dessert in the evenings … it’s the personal touch that makes this different from a hotel,” she says.

And innkeepers are intimately involved in their communities, making them great sources for area recommendations.

“I [think of myself as a] personal concierge because I know my town and I’m able to really give my guests specific information about things they might be interested in,” Mirakovits says. “That personal one-on-one service really energizes me.”

Of course, a key component at a B&B is the breakfast, promising the hearty satisfaction of a home-cooked meal with the full-service appeal of a meal you didn’t cook yourself.

“We’re not a restaurant,” says Nicole Hudson of The Overlook Inn in Chatsworth. “We see ourselves as a home. When mama or grandma cooks for you, you’re not going to leave the table hungry.”

So bring your appetite and leave your cares behind as you visit these homes and inns for the holidays.

*Please note, listed rates subject to change based on dates of stay.

ATH|B&B The Rushmore, Athens

The newest B&B on our list, Ath| B&B The Rushmore opened in September of this year. The updated space in Five Points carries quite the storied past; built in 1918, it was once home to a famed town caterer and later a fraternity house. UGA grads and high school sweethearts Candace and Cameron Treadway ventured into the B&B biz to introduce guests to their beloved college town. Along with prime proximity to the heart of Athens, guests enjoy macarons in their rooms upon arrival and an afternoon tea provided by Café on Lumpkin.

Common Areas: A garden-level common room with TV and games, dining room with stocked refrigerator for refreshments throughout the day, and front and back yards for outdoor enjoyment

Guest Rooms: Choose from 14 well-appointed suites with in-room bathrooms Breakfast Specialties: Favorites like scrambled eggs, scones, yogurt and bagels catered by Café on Lumpkin

Extras: Bridal packages; graduation weekend celebrations; tailgating packages for football season

Kid-friendly: Yes; a bunk-bed room is perfect for families with children, and a portable crib is available upon request

Rates: $200 – $500 Stayathbnb.com

Bent Tree Lodge, Jasper

Tucked into the woods at the base of Mount Oglethorpe, Bent Tree Lodge beckons guests visiting Ball Ground, Ellijay, Blue Ridge and Dahlonega. Named after the bent tree markers the Cherokee and Seminole Indians once used to point people toward different resources in the area, Bent Tree operates as both a resting place and road sign for exploring the area. Not only is Bent Tree centrally located to a host of local wineries, the Hancock’s will be opening their very own on-site winery—Cairn View—in early 2022.

Common Areas: An open-layout, twostory great room with fireplace and access to the kitchen, plus covered outdoor patio and an outdoor firepit

Guest Rooms: Four rooms in the main house with private bathrooms and TVs, with two additional guests suites opening soon in the winery

Breakfast Specialties: A rotation of ramekins filled with savory breakfast casseroles or sweet, seasonal French toast, plus private label coffee (Breakfast Blend, Chocolate Merlot and Bourbon Pecan)

Extras: Enhancements include customized beer and wine tours, day trip picnic baskets, catered dinners and in-suite massages; Chateau Meichtry and Biltmore Estates wine is available to purchase, alongside an Honor Bar with local craft beers, hard seltzer and wine by the glass

Kid-friendly: Yes, in the Farmhouse Suite with private entrance and sleeper sofa; all other guest rooms are double occupancy only

Rates: $165 – $225 benttreelodge.com

Glen-Ella Springs Inn, Clarkesville

This centuries-old inn is the perfect place to relax and reconnect with loved ones in a serene setting. Built in the late 1800s as an inn for guests from Charleston and Savannah visiting Talullah Gorge, Glen Ella has a long history of hospitality. Tourism slowed in the early 1900s and the inn changed hands a few times before sitting abandoned for more than 20 years. It reopened in 1987, and current owners Ed and Lucy Kivett came on board in 2008. In addition to offering lodging for travelers, Glen Ella’s acclaimed restaurant also serves award-winning Southern fare for dinner Tuesday through Saturday for both inn guests and the general public.

Common Areas: A gathering space with TV, lobby with cozy couches and fireplace, an outdoor dining terrace and outdoor spaces including a firepit, manicured meadows and garden, a pool and the Garden House stocked with complimentary snacks and drinks

Guest Rooms: Choose from penthouse suites, three-room suites, king and queen rooms, all with private en suite bathrooms and shared, wraparound porches

Breakfast Specialties: Two-cheese strata, caramel French toast, blueberry waffles

Extras: Packages include both romance and adventure options, such as Discover the Falls and Fly Fishing, with all the gear and guidance you need for the activity of your choice, plus add-ons like wine, cheese trays and even in-room massage

Kid-friendly: Yes, two family-friendly suites are separate from the other guests rooms

Rates: $175 – $275 for mid-week stays; $195 – $325 for weekends glenella.com

Ellijay River House, Ellijay

Innkeepers Karen and Keith Kreager knew they had stumbled upon a gem when they transformed this 1915 craftsman home into a B&B in 2019. Situated in the heart of downtown Ellijay, the location is unbeatable for guests who wish to walk to restaurants and shops less than a block away, and enjoy unparalleled access to the Ellijay River from the inn’s spacious backyard. The Kreager’s have tastefully redecorated the house while preserving many of its historic charms.

Common Areas: A cozy parlor and library with fireplace and common TV, plus inviting front porch, an expansive verandah, magnolia deck, two riverside decks, and the Bottle House, a unique setting for a toast or a photo opp Guest

Rooms: Four rooms with private baths, though some are located across the hall

Breakfast Specialties: Breakfast casserole, Belgian pecan waffles, eggs benedict; plus nightly desserts like Karen’s special pumpkin cake with orange cream cheese frosting

Extras: Though packages are not advertised, the Kreagers can customize your stay with add-ons like Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and itinerary planning

Kid-friendly: No Rates: $170 – $200 ellijayriverhouse.com

Mountain Laurel Creek Inn & Spa, Dahlonega

Walking up to Mountain Laurel Creek Inn and Spa is like stepping into a secret garden. Innkeepers Dennis Hoover and David Mulcahy have poured their passions for gardening, cooking and hospitality into transforming the small, two-bedroom house they started with in 1998 into the whimsical expanded oasis it is today—a relaxing, romantic retreat complete with a pub, a pool, and a full-service spa.

Common Areas: A communal TV room, dining room with vaulted ceilings, a wine bar, a pool and outdoor pavilion with gas fireplace and woodburning fire pit, plus 14 acres and a trail that leads to the creek

Guest Rooms: Three queen rooms and four king rooms, all with en suite bathrooms, gas fireplaces, jetted tubs and private balconies, plus the fully furnished Dancing Bear Cottage

Breakfast Specialties: Orange and cranberry croissant souffle (see the recipe on page 16); Dahlonega Golden Egg (sausage and eggs wrapped in phyllo)

Extras: Spa services and spa day passes; local beer and wine in the onsite Copper Penny Pub (tastings by appointment only)

Kid-friendly: No Rates: $209 – $240 mountainlaurelcreek.com

Mountain Top Lodge, Dahlonega

If you’re looking for a hideaway, this 15-acre enclave in the woods is the ticket to your escape. Though the property has operated as a B&B for 35 years, it was recently redesigned by new owners Heather and Tommy Breedlove to create a modern mountain refuge. With a background in private retreats, the Breedloves use their lodge to host everything from couples to group getaways. Here, you can get lost in nature, while also losing track of time; in fact, all clocks throughout the lodge are set differently to incite that very feeling.

Common Areas: Hospitality Kitchen with honor bar, den with gas-burning stove, Loft Library, communal TV room, the Fox & Owl bar, a wraparound front porch, and back patio with gas burning fire pits and Adirondack chairs

Guest Rooms: 16 bedrooms with en suite baths, (12 in the main lodge, and four in the separate Hillside Lodge) plus two private cabins

Breakfast Specialties: Mountain Man breakfast (scrambled eggs, gouda grits, sausage and homemade buttermilk biscuits with pepper gravy); cinnamon apple stuffed Belgian waffle French toast

Extras: Picnic baskets for area excursions; wedding packages; retreat planning services

Kid-friendly: Only kids 12 and up

Rates: $129 – $269; cabins starting at $300 themountaintoplodge.com

The Overlook Inn, Chatsworth

At the tip top of Fort Mountain, you’ll find The Overlook Inn, a destination that invites guests to come hang their hats for a while. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Cohutta Mountain Range in the common Council Room offer a breathtaking backdrop for meals or mingling with other guests. (Be sure to pop in at 5 p.m. on weekends for a social hour with wine and cheese). The B&B has been welcoming guests since 2000 but changed hands in 2020; new owners Nicole and Bill Hudson have been working to add their own personal touch. Though it sits secluded on the only road that runs up and down the mountain, The Overlook is still conveniently located to area attractions in Chatsworth and nearby Ellijay.

Common Areas: The Council Room with large stone fireplace and cozy sitting areas, plus an outdoor patio with firepit and arbor

Guest Rooms: Six rooms with private baths (some en suite, some across the hall) and varying features like hot tubs, jacuzzis, and/or screened-in porches

Breakfast Specialties: Stuffed French toast, blueberry pancakes, breakfast burritos; each three-course breakfast menu includes daily options

Extras: A couples’ romance package, wine & cheese platters, and a three-course fireside dinner option suited to your dietary needs

Kid-friendly: No children under 12 Rates: $169 – $239, subject to change during holidays and peak season theoverlookinn.com

Stovall House, Sautee-Nachoochee

Perched on a knoll with 27 acres of picturesque pasture bordered by Chickamauga Creek, Stovall House offers “million-dollar views” just five miles from downtown Helen. The 184-year-old house has operated as a B&B since the early ’80s, but current owners Jeff and Erin Sidwell brought it back to life after a period of disrepair in 2019. Eventually, the couple hopes to build an event venue, but for now, it’s a relaxing retreat surrounded by centuries-old white oak and black walnut trees.

Common Areas: A classic Southern parlor, wraparound porch with rocking chairs, an outdoor fire pit and plenty of space to roam

Guest Rooms: Five rooms with private baths and TVs, plus a sleeping porch

Breakfast Specialties: Salmon frittatas, ricotta and cream cheese blintzes, crème brulee French toast, all made with locally sourced eggs and, when possible, local meat, plus all organic fruits and veggies.

Extras: No specific packages, but the Sidwell’s partner with local vendors for wine tours and can assist with restaurant recommendations and itinerary planning

Kid-friendly: Yes; an enclosed sleeping porch with two twin trundle beds is perfect for families staying in the Blue or Green rooms stovallhouse.com

Yellow Daisy Bed and Breakfast, Dahlonega

This quaint cottage is within walking distance of Historic Downtown Dahlonega—a huge selling point at any time of year, but particularly during the town’s Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration. The original farmhouse was built in 1915, updated in 2002, and renovated once more to its current iteration as a B&B by Joe and Ellen Mirakovits in 2018.

Common Areas: Several cozy indoor spaces, including a den with fireplace, second story parlor and a living room with TV, plus outdoor fire pits, screened in porches, and a large front porch with swings

Guest Rooms: Four regular rooms with en suite bathrooms, plus a separate Gardenia Suite with self-catering kitchen, TV and living area

Breakfast Specialties: Personalized quiches with an assortment of fillings catered to each guest’s taste; pumpkin pecan French toast; freshly baked breads in flavors like blueberry almond and zucchini chocolate chip

Extras: No specified packages, but the sky’s the limit with Mirakovits’ personalized concierge service—simply let her know what you’d like to do and she’ll make it happen

Kid-friendly: No yellowdaisybnb.com

White Birch Inn, Clayton

Part boutique hotel, part bed and breakfast, this charming inn is a luxurious spot to rest your head after exploring Rabun County. At once rustic and sophisticated, the 100-year-old, two-story building was revitalized in 2012 with striking structural features like distressed wood beams and poplar bark shingles by Chuck and Brenda Patterson, an architect and interior designer, respectively. Freshen up in your unique guest room after a day of fishing or vineyard-hopping, then stroll to dinner in Downtown Clayton.

Common Areas: The stunning Laurel Bar, stocked with an array of bourbon, a comfortable guest lounge, a screened-in porch, a deck overlooking the park, and a small gym

Guest Rooms: Six rooms dedicated to indigenous trees, all with en suite bathrooms and TVs

Breakfast Specialties: A la carte breakfast features options like yogurt parfaits, eggs your way, Belgian waffles and freshly baked goods

Extras: Packages catering to romance and adventure, as well as an on-site massage package

Kid-friendly: No

Rates: $165 – $405

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