Nestled in the corner of Fairhaven, set against the blue-grey expanse of Bellingham Bay, the quiet Fairhaven Village Inn waits patiently for its next guest. Situated next to other shopfronts in similar decor, it blends in—a credit to the Inn’s ability to immerse itself, and its guests, into the Fairhaven community. That seamless immersion is the genius of the Fairhaven Village Inn: it turns guests into community members the minute they arrive, and stays with them for days after they leave.
I feel the hospitality immediately as I saunter up to the front desk, behind which sits a fresh-cheeked young woman, hair done up in a tight bun, and a warm, close-lipped smile on her face. “Can I help you?” she asks, watching me fumble with my cellphone. I tell her that I have a reservation, and my eyes wander to the plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the counter. Suddenly I am in my kitchen at home, brandishing oven mitts and wiping sticky bits of dough from the stovetop. “You have Room 312,” she says, rousing me from my cookie trance to hand me a welcome packet: two keys and an envelope of coupons I can use at local businesses around Fairhaven. “Let me know if you need anything else,” she calls out as I begin to ascend the stairs.
I open the door into a large room with a bathroom, desk, TV, and the show-stopper: a huge, luxurious bed with crisp white linens—just a comfortable as it looks. From the bed, I notice the white light of the horizon peeking around the curtains. I brush them aside and open a sliding glass door onto a small deck equipped with table and chairs and boasting a stunning view of Bellingham Bay.
Later, I sit with the Inn’s owner, Connie Shannon, and learn that each of the rooms are similar to mine, except one suite that includes a family-style dining room table, fold-out living room sleeper, and a private King bedroom with a separate jetted tub.
As I chatted with Connie, it was clear how much she loves her job, despite telling me, “It was never my dream to own an inn.” For the last ten years since moving to Bellingham, that is what she and her husband Gene have done.
“We were planning on moving to Bellingham and my husband was looking for a building to own or build. We found this inn [which was built in the 1990s] and kept coming back to it. I knew that if we bought the inn then I’d need to run it. Luckily, I was really ready to do something new.”
Connie takes me on a tour of the beautiful inn, stopping first at the large guest library. The atmosphere is dark and rustic, like the interior of forest cabin, and the walls are lined with books and board games. I gawk at the fireplace and a peculiar green leather throne-like chair. “That’s where Santa sits during our Christmas events, “ Connie adds.
Next, Connie takes me up the stairs, an act in itself that stops me in my tracks. At every twist of the staircase there is a huge window overlooking the steely bay. As we climb, I pause and pick out different parts of the scene—the pristine mountains, the ebbing tides, the docked Alaskan ferry, the train tracks that weave alongside the bay shore. “This inn is so convenient for guests from all areas, with all of these transportation hubs nearby,” Connie explains.
On the way up we pass one of the hotel’s best features: a the large deck overlooking the bay. “During the summer, this is the spot to be,“ says Connie, gesturing to the beckoning horizon at the left, and the charming city of Fairhaven to the right. “We’ve had people ask from the sidewalk below, ‘How do we get up into your restaurant?’ They always look disappointed when we tell them that we don’t have a restaurant, and that the deck is just for guests of the Inn.” (The Inn does have a cozy kitchen and eating area where they serve continental breakfast for guests.)
I nod; it would be easy to feel disappointed to be left out of any part of this Inn. Once inside, you become a part of Fairhaven, a ward of two loving guardians, Connie and Gene, a more-than-welcome addition to the family.
For more information visit www.fairhavenvillageinn.com.