My wife and I picked last weekend to visit Galena, Illinois—and as it turns out, it was one of the area's busiest weekends. We were also only able to stay a single night. As if these factors weren't enough to severely limit our choices, we also had budgetary considerations. Thank goodness our online search led us to The Richards House! 15 minutes from downtown Galena—just over the bridge spanning the river—is this Victorian treasure on the National Registry of Historic Places in Dubuque, Iowa.
For our one-night stay, we were given use of the enormous and richly appointed Library Suite, outfitted with original fireplaces, stained glass, woodwork, and built-in bookcases. We slept in a majestic antique half-canopy bed, read in leather chairs before the bay window, and soaked in a decadent clawfoot tub.
The rest of the house was just as inviting. The front parlour is a music room housing a baby grand piano (and a large collection of DVDs to take back to your room, tucked into yet more built-in bookcases); the dining room boasts breakfasts of homemade cakes, waffles, and baked eggs with bacon; and all the other bedrooms we got a peek into were charmingly decorated with well-selected antiques. Not content to rest on their laurels, Michelle and Dave are continually making improvements: when we got there, the backyard was being worked on, and one of the bedrooms had just been repapered in a dazzling suite of vintage papers.
Then there are the hosts: Michelle is friendly, accommodating (she serves breakfast on your schedule, not on a fixed one), and more than happy to give tours of the place from top to bottom. While Dave was busily overseeing the work in back, we enjoyed the attention of the property's feline staff: Momma Cat, Oliver, Sassy, and Socks. They're beautiful animals, happy to be petted but not overly sociable and underfoot; and since they're not allowed in the guest rooms, my allergies didn't cause me a sniffle.
True, the Richards House isn't in the heart of Galena. And its exterior, which will be restored and painted in 2014, might put you in mind of Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations. But those minor setbacks pay huge dividends: once inside, you're rewarded with an outstanding B&B experience—for a fraction of the rates charged on the other side of the river. We look forward to staying there on our next Galena getaway, and we recommend you do the same.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.