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“Not for everyone, maybe, but perfect for us”
Review of The Keeper's House

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The Keeper's House
Ranked #1 of 1 Isle Au Haut B&B and Inns
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Level Contributor
34 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Not for everyone, maybe, but perfect for us”
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We've been coming to Isle au Haut for many years, we love the island and know how life is here. This was our first time at the Keeper's House however. The food is amazing. Breakfast, lunch and dinners were astounding (I love to cook, we qualify as certified *foodies* and every meal was perfect). But be aware, life on the Island is rustic. We stayed in the Oil House and appreciated the privacy it afforded. However... there is no electricity and visiting the privy requires a short walk. Yes, it's a privy but the artwork and craftsmanship on display will fail to diffuse the objections of only the most privileged and spoiled (if you expect a hairdryer or wifi, please don't bother)

It's a unique experience that you simply can't get anywhere else for any price. Bicycles and a rowboat (a Whitehall, no less) are available for exploring both land and sea.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank DSBAKKER
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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37 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
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English first
Princeton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2013

The three previous TripAdvisor reviews accurately capture the headlines: 1) the Keeper’s House is back in business with a new owner and team, and 2) the guest experience is excellent, despite the 6-year hiatus and very recent reopening (mid-June).

I agree with the comments in those reviews, so, rather than repeat what has already been covered, I will add a few observations.

Marshall and his team are deeply committed to both the island and to this property. Having only discovered Isle au Haut and the inn shortly before our visit, and having learned some of the history of both, I am thrilled that this unique place is once again delivering wonderful experiences to those fortunate enough to visit.

Although one reviewer mentioned that Acadia National Park covers roughly half of the island, it is worth elaborating. Guests can easily hike or bike to the park trails, which provide spectacular views, including rocky cliffs. Or have someone drive you around to the far side of the island (one road roughly “circles" the island) so that you only have to hike or bike back. Or arrange for them to pick you up again, at a designated time. The delicious picnic lunch provided by the Inn is perfect for these outings. Modern, clean bikes are also provided by the Inn. A long, narrow lake also serves as a popular swimming destination. Alternatively, settle into one of the several, iconic Adirondack chairs on the bluffs and read or simply enjoy the wonderful views to sea (mainland and islands in far distance). The inn features a small library, so plenty of reading material is available if you don’t bring enough. Take enough wine for your dinners and chair time. The staff will happily chill your white wine in the kitchen fridge (one bottle at a time). We saw dolphins swimming past the property.

The traveler photograph shown on the TripAdvisor page (as of today) is incorrectly identified as the Keeper’s House. It is a photograph of the converted Woodshed Cottage (reportedly, not available for rent this summer) as viewed when coming up from the boat house, and is directly behind the Keeper’s House. Be sure to visit the photo gallery on the inn’s web site for a more complete “picture” at www.keepershouse.com/photo-gallery.htm

I will attempt to upload several photographs taken during the 1st week of July 2013, including images of the boat house, the oil house (small, somewhat remote “cottage”), the owner’s collection of pristine, antique vehicles, images of the lighthouse, and a beautiful sunset and sunrise.

The property is “off the grid”, although the small town 1.5 miles away does have power and phones and internet. Cellular service on the entire island is spotty, relying on signals from the mainland. Adding to the ambiance, evening meals were by candlelight and oil lamps. An oil lamp provides light for the stairs at night, and LED headlamps (flashlights) are thoughtfully provided in the rooms.

Returning to prior TripAdvisor reviews: there is an anonymous review posted in October 2004, years before the inn’s hiatus (2007-2013). It should be moot by now, the themes are universal and worth addressing. Frankly, I was surprised to see that 24 people found it helpful.

- Complaining about the cost of the boat ride and parking is like complaining about airfare and airport parking in a review for a hotel in Europe, or in a review for a resort in the Bahamas. If you don’t want to pay for someone else to transport you across the ocean, then get yourself there on your own boat or sea plane. Being on an island is a lovely feature, not a drawback.

- It is a mistake to compare the Inn’s pricing to Bed & Breakfasts. A better comparison would be an all-inclusive, yet exclusive resort (few people, 3 meals/day included). Better still to make sure that comparison resort is also on an island, where all the provisions have to be brought in by boat, and the staff have to either live on the island or commute.

- Complaining that the oil house cottage had “no running water” is odd. The main house has 3 bedrooms on the second floor that share one bathroom, and a loft with its own bathroom. The oil house “cottage” is the converted oil storage shed (the lighthouse is now solar-powered) and comfortably houses a bed, a side table and a small dresser. It also features the only private patio. Having no bathroom amenities in the oil house is both clearly documented, and more than compensated for by the very private setting near the water. My sunrise photographs are taken from this area. Having stayed in both the main house and the oil house during our July visit, I can say that both are wonderful options, and that choosing between them was difficult. Guests who stayed in the cottage while we were in the main house also raved about the setting.

- The reviewer's feeling of being “ripped off” suggests unrealistic expectations. I left after 4 nights with exactly the opposite feeling: our stay was a very good value, and I look forward to visiting again (despite our 10+ hour drive to get there).

We had never heard of this inn three months ago, and our only connection to it is our truly wonderful experience in July. We have traveled to many getaways around the world, a number of them on islands, and we selected this inn in the hopes that it might join our list of “special places”. I am happy to say that it has!

Finally, if you are curious about the history of this inn, I recommend “Island Lighthouse Inn" by Jeffrey Burke. It chronicles Jeff and Judi's fascinating journey, which gave us The Keeper’s House Inn. For more information about the island, consider reading “The Lobster Chronicles” by Linda Greenlaw. If the TripAdvisor reviews aren’t enough to make you book your stay, then skim these books to get yourself across the finish line. And, once you have your reservation, read the books before arriving. You will feel as if you’ve stepped right into these (overlapping) stories as soon as you board the mail boat in Stonington.

Room Tip: All rooms in main house and the oil shed cottage have wonderful views. Rooms in main house are larg...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Isle_and_fun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 11, 2013

In my opinion there is no better way to experience Maine island life than a trip to Isle Au Haut with a stay at The Keepers House.
If you are looking for Holiday Inn experience you'll be heading to the wrong place. If you can enjoy simple things like great food, friendly people and an island that is nearly completely undeveloped you'll enjoy your stay with Marshall and his staff.
The staff was very friendly and was able to meet our every need.
The inn is off the grid and has only one bathroom. It sounds much worse than it actually is, everything worked out very well an staff keep the inn very clean and tidy.
The intimacy of the inn is unreal and creates a very special atmosphere. The dining room has four tables in it but for breakfast and dinner we found ourselves in conversations throughout the room.
Three excellent meals a day were provided in the nightly room rate and you have 24 hour access to the kitchen just like home. The staff worked around my food allergy without a problem and made me three gluten free meals.
The stay was great, the island was great, we're planning to return again next year.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank B S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amherst, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 4, 2013

Isle Au Haut is the best kept secret with an interesting history ranging from lobsterers to a summer location for the Boston elite. If you want the ultimate get away experience where you unplug, hike, enjoy all that Penobscot Bay, and a small part of Acadia National Park has to offer, then this is your location. The Inn complete with lighthouse is quaint with 4 spacious bedrooms and two shared bathrooms. The Inn also has a Pilot House on the property that one can opt to stay in as well with its own porch. The staff are friendly and helpful when needed. Three meals a day are served which were very good (the island has no restaurants). The mail boat out of Stonington (which has overnight parking right at the dock) will take you right to the dock at the Inn. There is a small general store on the island with limited hours so it is best to come prepared. The experience was just wonderful and Marshall and his staff (Tracy and Julie) were the best!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank mlbosco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Maine
Level Contributor
389 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 304 helpful votes
Reviewed July 1, 2013

After a 5 (or is it 6?) year hiatus, The Keeper's House is back in business, beautifully run, and a VERY special place. To begin, it was a very special occasion which brought my wife and me there; our 10th wedding anniversary and I had NO idea where we were headed (until, literally, getting on the ferry to Isle au Haut; and even then I had no clue as to our final destination) as this was a surprise my wife had planned months ago. We arrive via the "famous" Mail Boat and a short but extremely pleasant 30-40 minute later arrive on magical Isle au Haut. Only we don't get off at the town landing but get delivered at the boat house of The Keeper's House and are greeted, warmly, by Tracy (who manages the place along with his charming and lovely wife Julie). Tracy helps with what luggage we have - back packs actually - and walks us up to the Main House where we meet the Innkeeper himself - what I can only call, especially after spending (sporadically but always welcoming) 4 days with him, a gentleman AND a scholar of the highest order - Dr. Marshall Chapman.

For an Inn which has been out of operation for as many years as The Keeper's House has been, it's a testament to the love, dedication, and attention to workmanship - attention to everything - which makes one feel like The Keeper's House hasn't missed a beat all these years.

We stayed at the Oil House - a charming one (small) room off the Main House - and we couldn't possibly be happier. The bedding was comfortable as was the bed and the views simply stunning. The room has a built-in heater which Tracy fired up for us - not that we needed it - and supplied with towels, candles (yes, candles) and shown where the outhouse was (yes, outhouse). Let's be clear here - and this is essentially true of the whole island much less The Keeper's House - we might be talking an extremely well-run Inn, and we are, but we are talking the seclusion of Isle au Haut and a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, adventure.

We're talking "off the grid". If you are in constant need of being on your cell phone or sending or receiving mail: YOU'VE COME TO THE WRONG PLACE!

I myself am not necessarily of the "out-house-set" but found it to be perfectly suitable and we always had the Main House as a secondary, or primary, option.

Readers of mine know I tend not to elaborate too much - "special in every way" sums it up quite nicely if you ask me, and even if you didn't - but will add that the 3 meals a day (included in the price) were FANTASTIC! Breakfast and dinner were spectacular (the bag lunch provided splendid) - thank you Eileen! - and the service throughout was nothing less than perfect! (And that's saying something).

Here's how I will sum it [all] up at the risk of repeating myself: Isle au Haut is a very special place and The Keeper's House is A VERY SPECIAL PLACE RUN BY EXTRA SPECIAL PEOPLE. It's start at the very top - and I guarantee you you'll agree with me once you spend any time with Dr, Chapman (who, if you're lucky, will play the guitar and/or banjo, after dinner) - and goes from there.

Congratulations The Keeper's House and thank you very much!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank theghostwriter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed July 10, 2005

Although the price was high, it was such a unique experience that my wife and I thought it was worth it. We caught an earlier boat over than they recommened and used the extra time to explore some of the hiking trails in Acadia National Park on the island. The food was excellent, with all three meals provided because there are no other options for dining on the island. Part of the higher cost is simply because of their isolation, although that is also much of the allure. Another benefit is that they are totally environmentally friendly, generating their own electricity and fresh water and treating their waste. I think it's worth a little extra to support people making the effort to try to live (and run a business) that way.

Contrary to the experience of the previous review, however, we found that they *did* have running water (including hot water) and sufficient light for reading (although we didn't stay up all that late to use it). We would have loved to stay longer except that our itinerary didn't permit it. Highly recommended for anyone desiring a tiny taste of small island life or proximity to a working lighthouse.

  • Stayed June 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
23 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marshall C, Owner at The Keeper's House, responded to this review, July 8, 2013
Ownership changed in 2012.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 17, 2004

While it was a unique and interesting experience, and in a lovely setting, this was undoubtedly the most overpriced bed & breakfast we've ever stayed in. It was NOT worth $300 a night. Half that maybe, if that $150 included the cost of getting to and from the island by mail boat and parking at the dock (which costs a total of $82 for 2 people). The "gourmet" food was Ok, but I've had better and not for that price. If an inn is going to list reading as things to do while you're there (or you'd better be a hiker, or there really is nothing to do) then they should provide enough light to read by even if that is by gas lamp or candle. For those who retire early, it would be fine. But anyone who's a night owl or likes to stay up and read, you will be disappointed.

We are used to camping and "roughing it", but the Oil House has no running water (other than ice cold in a jug) and an outhouse (which we expected). For a shower you had to use the ones in the main house (not too bad unless you don't like walking 100 yards to take a shower). It was not worth $300 a night. And unfortunately the final feeling we came away with was that we felt ripped off.

  • Stayed October 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
28 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marshall C, Owner at The Keeper's House, responded to this review, July 8, 2013
Ownership changed in 2012.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Keeper's House

Property: The Keeper's House
Address: PO Box 26, Isle Au Haut, ME 04645-0026
Location: United States > Maine > DownEast and Acadia Maine > Isle Au Haut
Amenities:
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Isle Au Haut
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
One of the few funtioning lighthouse inns in the US and the only bed and breakfast on the Isle Au Haut in Maine. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Keeper's House Isle Au Haut, Maine

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