It’s All Inn There – Local Inns help visitors discover Ridgefield
by Sarah Gauthier Galluzzo
››I have lived in New England all my life and the quiet beauty of this corner of the world takes my breath away, but Ridgefield was never on my radar as a destination — until now. This bucolic town offers great places to stay, historic walking tours, fine dining, a vibrant art scene, and a hip, trendy vibe. There are two inns in town, The West Lane and The Fountain Inn, each offering a unique experience, adding to this town’s gracious and inviting character.
West Lane Inn
Celebrating its second year under new management, The West Lane Inn is ideal for families, couples, and business travelers looking for a special place to stay. The Inn has been painstakingly renovated by new owners Christine Carnicelli and Danille Petrie, fellow moms who first started brainstorming business ideas at their children’s bus stop.
Carnicelli has a background in corporate America, while Petrie has spent her career in hospitality. The combination of these two women is magical; they are enthusiastic, upbeat, and focused on providing guests with the best possible experience. “We each bring different skills to the table, but together, it just works,” Carnicelli says while Petrie nods in agreement.
Once a guest walks through the welcoming front porch of The West Lane Inn, they are greeted with a gorgeous chandelier. Original moldings, tiled fireplaces, and other small touches harken back to the early days when the Bissel family first built this home
The Inn serves breakfast daily (complimentary for guests and open to the public for a reasonable fee) with various choices, including fluffy scrambled eggs and freshly baked blueberry lemon scones from Elizabella’s Bake Shop on Bailey Avenue.
The second floor of this 14-room bed and breakfast offers rooms that capture a New England traditional ambiance, with floral wallpaper and classic furniture. Updates include new window and floor treatments. All the bathrooms on the third floor were recently expanded, and these guest rooms offer a more modern feel with vibrant patterned upholstered headboards and clean lines. Plush bath linens and high-end toiletries are standard.
Wonder how guests find their way to Ridgefield? Of course, there are the conventional ways, such as word of mouth, social media, and traditional advertising, but then there’s “Joe’s way.”
“We had a guest named ‘Joe,’ here from Long Island. He literally threw a dart at a map, and it hit Ridgefield, so he came here. He stayed in one of our traditional rooms, and he loved it so much he booked a stay in the same room again.” Petrie explained.
“There are so many draws to Ridgefield. There’s great hiking, the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Prospector Theatre, gourmet dining, shopping, the museums, excellent spas, and several wedding venues nearby,” Carnicelli added.
At The West Lane Inn, there are bikes for use, they offer several pet-friendly rooms, and children are welcome. There’s also a deep sense of commitment to the local community. This is made evident by the many events they help host in support of local schools
The Fountain Inn
Laurice Haynes is no stranger to Ridgefield either. She and her husband Doug raised five children in their 300-year-old home on 114 Main Street before moving to Sleepy Hollow and converting it into the Fountain Inn.
“After a year of putting this home on the market during a time when no one was buying such large homes, we thought we would see if we could make it as an inn. It’s been huge,” Haynes says with a warm smile.
Located across from the historic Cass Gilbert’s fountain, the inn opened this past May and is already booking up.
When asked if the transition from home to the inn was difficult, Haynes just offers another gracious smile.
“With five children, we’ve always had a very open home with a typical family dinner for ten every night and lots of out-of-town family sleeping overnight, so that lent itself beautifully. We have always enjoyed visiting bed and breakfasts on our travels. Now we handle the business side and our innkeepers help us carry out the day-to-day comfort and hospitality.”
Details matter to Haynes, and they always have. “As our home, it was important to us to reconstruct everything to be as close as it could be to the original.”
Paned windows with original glass panels, forged brass push button light switches, and reconstructed plaster moldings give one the impression that you’ve stepped back in time. But make no mistake about it, this bed and breakfast is crisp, bright, and fresh. They also offer complimentary breakfast daily, and each room boasts a beautiful view.
The four-guestroom inn runs a special where a family can rent out the entire space for a wedding party or other groups. In addition, they have a bridal suite and space available for baby showers, family functions, and business events.
Like the West Lane Inn, a sense of hospitality and community is evident in the culture of this establishment. Haynes talks about the local events — including the upcoming film festival — with a sense of pride. She also has memories to share.
“When my daughters were little girls, the three of them would stand by the fence waiting to see the brides next door at Keeler Tavern. And the security guard told them, ‘You don’t have to stand here and wait all day; I’ll call you over to see the bride.’ And he would do that. Sometimes the brides would invite the girls over for a slice of wedding cake,” Haynes said.
There is a warm welcome awaiting visitors to the artsy, eclectic, and historic town of Ridgefield, no matter which inn they choose for their stay.