Fans of the hit HBO series “Sex and the City” say that Manhattan was the show’s fifth star. That Cleveland could ever be a leading lady in a romantic adventure seems less likely — unless you book a weekend at the Brownstone Inn Downtown. Owner/innkeeper Robin Yates, who moved to Cleveland from Manhattan in the 1960s, has a way of bringing out the city’s most glamorous side, sparking a love affair between you and this lakeside town that will last a lifetime.
“It’s really not about the rooms, or homemade chocolate waffles or anything like that here,” Yates says of his restored townhouse B&B. “People come here and fall in love with the city.”
But the charm of his 1874 brownstone shouldn’t be understated. Situated in an area of town once known as Millionaire’s Row, the inn’s Upper East Side-like persona still speaks to the dignified presence of former neighborhood residents, such as billionaire John D. Rockefeller. You can’t miss the
vibrant peacock blue doors at the top of the thick stone steps, or help but gape at the home’s turn-of-the-century elegance and 12-foot ceilings when you first step inside. “There’s a certain mystique a brownstone has,” agrees Yates. “It’s quiet as can be, even when it’s not.”
Guests are invited to relax on the comfortable sofas in the parlor and even play a note on the old working Jewett and Goodman pump-organ in the corner. Guest rooms are grand, and, like the rest of the townhouse, decorated with antiques. “Probably our most interesting piece is in the dining room,” says Yates. “It’s a 300-year-old antique sideboard made from seven different types of wood.”
Comfortable as it is, it’s likely you won’t spend much time here.
“With every guest, we sit down for breakfast and I help them plan their whole day if they want,” says Yates, adding that he often takes first-time visitors on a driving tour of the city before their bags are unpacked. “I just say, ‘Hop in the car and let me give you an overall view.’”
Give him a little direction and Yates will gladly customize an itinerary for you. “If it’s their first time in Cleveland, I’ll usually suggest dinner, then a Broadway show on PlayhouseSquare” (www.playhousesquare.com
). After the show, Yates likes to direct people to trendy local spots such as Nighttown (www.nighttowncleveland.com
), which he calls the best spot in Cleveland for a nightcap and live jazz, or the House of Blues (www.hob.com
). The next day, he’ll send them to the celebrated Cleveland Museum of Art (www.cma.org
), then on to the city’s ethnic enclave of Little Italy (www.littleitalycleveland.com
) for lunch.
By curtain call, you’ll be reeling from your big-city adventure minus the big-city price tag. Yates gives Cleveland all of the credit. “I love it here — it’s the best kept secret in the country,” he says.