There is a good reason that Orlando had to grow southward when Disney became the 800 million pound gorilla of the region: because Winter Park and Maitland abut it on the north side. They are snug and decidedly non-Disney-fied. That is, they represent Old Florida in many ways-- the best ways. Their zoning rules are so tight that very few lodging establishments have been able to get traction in their areas, that is, in the areas that really count. I have felt for years that the Thurston House B&B represented the pinnacle of the select few good lodging choices in Winter Park and Maitland. I tried for multiple years in a row to get a room there, but as they only have 3 rooms, any event worth traveling to the Orlando area found them booked up months in advance.
I must have tripped into a cancellation when making plans to go to the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts festival this March-- we were able to get a room! Couldn't wait. The wait was worth it. The gracious hosts, the Ballards, are originally from Massachusetts, and the appurtenances of their Maitland establishment are classics of New England's historic homestead culture.
The home is hidden away on a small lake, next to a woods, just the way a "suburban getaway" ought to be. Large screened-in porches with comfortable chairs; charming gardens; a hidden second-story porch with a hammock; stained glass, art and furniture that can steal your attention when you are not expecting it-- the list just goes on and on. I can best describe the lodging room as one that pampers you-- comfort and elegance, with all the little extras.
Carole's breakfasts were different each day, and every day brought another surprising dish that was as good as it was unique. We could not have felt more welcome, comfortable and at-home than this. I grew up in the area, so knew what dining and sightseeing attractions (non-Disney!) we wanted, but Carole was at the ready with good suggestions and helpful comments on our choices.
Such quality doesn't come cheap, but for this special trip we felt that the rate was within reason, especially considering that the few other select choices had some not easily dismiss-able disadvantages. We would go back there at the drop of a hat, a feather, a hint-- what have you!
All three rooms are excellent, on second floor (no elevator), differing mainly in size and view.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.