For those unfamiliar with New Jersey’s Cape May, this resort town located on the southern peninsula which bears the same name is best known for its Victorian-era architecture and old-fashioned ambiance. It’s a place where vacationers can stroll along the beach or take a tandem bike ride down the coast. This crowning jewel of the Garden State is one of the most-visited beaches in the country, while the entire town itself has achieved National Historical Landmark status thanks to its dedication to the preservation of the area’s oldest and most beloved buildings, many of which now operate as bed and breakfasts.
The Queen Victoria
This ten-time award winner for best bed and breakfast in Cape May consists of four separate yet equally luxurious buildings located in the heart of the popular seaside resort town and a mere stone’s throw from all of the area’s activities. The historic Queen Victoria building boasts nine guest rooms, each with ensuite baths and featuring stunning architecture that melds classic Victorian-era styles such as French, Edwardian, and Italianate while the Queen’s Cottage offers four private rooms, including a pair of first-floor suites complete with whirlpool tubs.
Meanwhile, guests of Prince Albert Hall can look out onto the English garden from the third-floor roof deck or take their tea or breakfast on the front porch during the warmer months. The kitchen of this building is also known to churn out an array of baked goods, from cakes and cookies to breads and scones, providing an aromatic feast for visitors of this grand Victorian featuring gingerbread décor. The House of Royals, the eldest of the Queen Victoria properties, houses ten elegantly-appointed rooms with private baths and marble flooring. In total, there are thirty-five rooms available between the properties, with each building serving a breakfast buffet and stocking complimentary snacks and beverages.
John Wesley Inn
As one of the original Stockton Row Cottages, the John Wesley Inn carries with it a rich history steeped in Victorian-era tradition and celebrating the grand architectural influences of the period. Built in 1869, the cottages are all that remain of the Stockton Hotel complex, which was demolished in 1911. While the original hotel housed enough rooms to accommodate over 475 guests, the John Wesley Inn features a quaint seven rooms, each equipped with private bath and fireplace. In addition, the property also offers two Carriage House apartments, which are located in a separate building and boast two levels of living space complete with full kitchens. Every room, including the Carriage House apartments, comes complete with modern creature comforts such as LCD televisions, DVD players, and iPod docking stations. The inn is owned and operated by the Pontins, who personally prepare each morning’s breakfast, which is served buffet style in the grand dining room beneath the light of an antique brass chandelier and accompanied by elegant linens and cutlery.
The Southern Mansion
Enjoy a taste of southern hospitality at this award-winning inn. This recipient of AAA’s Four Diamond Award features 24 rooms, from the elegant Standard Suites to the awe-inspiring Master Suite, a 750 square-foot space that boasts an ornate, carved mantelpiece and antiques fit for a museum. Each room offers modern amenities, such as cable TV, wireless internet access, and private ensuite bathrooms.
The entire mansion was restored to its late 19th-century glory over the course of a multi-phase renovation project that lasted several years and added an entirely new wing to the property, including ten additional guest suites and a second ballroom. Willow Creek Winery – a Southern Mansion-affiliated property – occupies 50 acres of the inland Cape and includes a 12,000 square-foot tasting room where guests can sample some of the garden state’s finest selections, including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir.
Angel of the Sea
Somewhat ironically, Angel of the Sea was originally built on a piece of property well inland. It wasn’t until the original owner decided that he desired an ocean view that the home was moved to a more appropriate location. The impressive undertaking took an entire winter to complete and required dividing the massive dwelling into two sections, creating two separate buildings upon completion of the journey. Since then, Angel of the Sea has operated as everything from a restaurant to a hotel. Today it stands as one of the Cape’s most iconic bed and breakfasts.
Each of the inn’s 27 guest rooms includes their own private bath and is ornamented with gingerbread detailing. Many rooms, such as the Fireside King or Cape May Queen, provide direct access to the unit’s porches and offer ocean views. A gourmet breakfast is served each morning in the elegant dining room or, during the warmer months, on the first-floor porch overlooking the sea. There is also an afternoon tea time, as well as an evening wine tasting accompanied by a cheese buffet. Guests looking to make use of the beach during their stay will find all that they need awaiting them, including beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas – all provided by the accommodating staff of Angel of the Sea.
Though it may sound like something straight out of It’s a Wonderful Life, this luxurious bed and breakfast’s moniker was actually derived by combining the surnames of two couples who jointly purchased the inn back in the 1960s, the Bedsworths and the Fords. Today, this completely renovated, three-story ode to Victorian yesteryear offers ten meticulously-decorated rooms, each with private baths and modern amenities. Guests are welcome to take their tea in the parlor and bask in the glow of the fireplace while enjoying one of the tomes from the bookcases, or retire to the verandah, where they can soak in the sea breeze as they kick back in one of the rocking chairs. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the inn is the dining room mural, a hand-painted landscape featuring area landmarks that sprawls the entirety of the room. Bedford Inn is located steps from the beach and near both Cape May State Park and the Cape May Lighthouse, which is one of the area’s iconic landmarks included in the mural.