If you really want to discover the mix of handsome neighborhoods and evocative port districts that make this New England city such a looker, a bed and breakfast in Portland, Maine, could be the way to go. They offer all sorts, from local tips on the best lobster shacks to immersive settings in centuries-past buildings…
A neighborhood guide to booking B&Bs in Portland, Maine
At its heart, Portland is a city woven from countless neighborhoods. From the salt-washed quays and great maritime museums of Downtown to oodles of enchanting harbor areas and leafy quarters laced with historic Victorian facades that filter away and straddle the coast. The pointers below reveal some of the best for finding endearing Portland B&Bs.
The West End is always a doozy
Visions of centuries-old mansions and faux-Gothic public buildings abound in the West End. In fact, this buzzy corner of Downtown is likely to be the Portland you've been dreaming of, with all its Historic Register homes and honorific statues along the Western Promenade. It's also the place where you can ferret out bed and breakfasts steeped in heritage – think aged coach houses and inns that have been running for 200 years.
The enchantments of the Old Port
Learn your shanty songs and channel your inner seadog, because the Old Port is the salty home of Portland's sailor taverns and boat-bobbing jetties. Wiggling and winding in a mesh of cobblestone streets, it's a place to gorge on lobster and purchase New England artworks in the galleries. It's also laden with unforgettable B&Bs, oozing maritime character and history.
Go out along the coast to Falmouth Foreside
You'll wake to the creak of the mainsail, the slosh of the Atlantic, the clunk of lobster cages, and the fresh salt airs of the ocean in Falmouth Foreside. Spilling down to a wide bay through a haze of yacht clubs and lantern-lit cottages, it's got its own beachfront and chimney-topped pubs aplenty. There are also loveable guest houses in town, just a few minutes' drive across the Presumpscot River from the hurly burly of Portland's center.
What's the character of Portland bed and breakfasts?
Like all places in New England, the B&Bs of Portland have an unmistakable style of their own. It comes through in the muted hues of white and blue, their touches of seafaring history, their rich heritage, and in the unique and welcoming vibe they roll to…
A hearty Maine welcome
Because bed and breakfasts in Portland tend to have just a handful of rooms, not 100s like your usual chain hotel, there's much more scope for proprietors to personalize the service. You'll usually get a warm greeting that might include a welcome drink and a chat about local history. And you can often organize bespoke packages, from couples' massage sessions to tours of the Old Port and Downtown.
The influence of the ocean
It's no secret that Portland is intimately linked to the Atlantic – the clue's in the name: PORT-land. Seafaring and shipbuilding have defined it since it was first founded, so don't be surprised to see those themes running through every pore of your guest house. From old schooner wheels to blue and white suite interiors, it's often palpable.
Romance, pampering, and luxury are available
Start the day with platters of fresh fruits and blueberry-topped waffles cooked by hand. Then enjoy a massage session and a steam in the on-site hot tub. Then indulge in some wine tasting or epicurean foodie tours of the local lobster kitchens. Finally, return to your sumptuous suite in a centuries-old shipbuilder's inn. These are the unforgettable experiences on offer in romantic and sumptuous Portland bed and breakfasts.
Scoring cheap Portland B&Bs
With so many independent art galleries and Casco Bay sailing adventures to add to the itinerary, it's easy to see why you might want to keep costs low on the accommodation front. Cue the tips below, which can even help cut the price of elegant bed and breakfasts in Portland, Maine.
Choose to visit in the spring, winter, or fall
The crowds come to Maine and New England in the summertime. It's peak sailing season. It's when the sun's a-shining and the beaches are bustling. And it's when Portland's B&Bs pack out to bursting. You could consider other times of year, which are cheaper, and each have their own charms. There's the winter wonderland of snow-doused December and January, for example. Or there's flower-blooming spring. And the fall forests look wonderful as they change colors.
Booking early is key
There's loads to be said for booking your bed and breakfast in Portland as early as you can, particularly if you want to visit the lobster eateries and lighthouses between June and August. Getting in there before everyone else ensures you'll have the pick of the top-rated stays at the most enticing prices.