The Pomegranate Inn — funky, whimsical, eclectic, fun, beautiful, sophisticated and surprising — is the art museum of your wildest dreams.
Not only can you feast your eyes on sumptuous prints, paintings, textiles, mosaics, sculpture, antique furniture, rugs, murals, mirrors, lamps, and fetching objets d’art, you can live, read, nosh, daydream, and sleep in their midst.
Did you ever think an innkeeper could curate fantasy and imagination in the name of comfort and hospitality? Or blend classical art with contemporary, East with West, throwing in a bit of vintage chic to stunning effect, making you feel like you were house-sitting an artsy friend’s very cool digs?
This distinctive gem of a boutique inn, located on a quiet residential street in Portland’s West End, doesn’t feel like a typical small city hotel, and it’s certainly not your grandmother’s Victorian lace doily B&B. The Pomegranate is Alice in Wonderland meets Aubrey Beardsley and Matisse meets Duncan Phyfe and Architectural Digest with a twist of the Eastern Han Dynasty. And that’s just one room.
The instant you step into the foyer of this 1884 Italianate mansion, with its black-and-white checkered floors, marigold walls, leopard print stair runner, and serene Persephone tempting you with a frisky pomegranate, you’re so grateful your imaginary artsy friend had to go out of town, leaving you to bask in this sensual celebration of color, texture, patterns, and shapes.
You cannot stop looking, looking at the tangerine throw pillows, the green faux-marble mantel and columns, the floor lamp with dogwood branch legs. And haven’t you always wanted a black-and-white striped barber pole in your dining room?
The entire inn is a work of art showcasing contemporary artists from Maine and around the world. Nothing stuffy or fussy here. Well, neither is your invisible friend. You love her taste. Her choice of pieces and placement feels random, yet it all goes together. It just works.
Each of the eight guest rooms is its own visual feast with either handpainted walls (magenta hydrangeas on robin’s egg blue, massive vines, blue irises, birds) or floral wallpaper. We chose Room #8 (gold dots), the original master suite in the house.
Light, airy, and spacious — we felt right at home with the comfy bed, gas fireplace, Orientalish sitting room and familiar touches — same hexagonal tile floors and subway tile walls that we have in our master bath, and believe it or not — the other half of a deer’s antler to match the half Len found in our woods (which he’s using as a hat rack). It was definitely a sign we were in the right place.
Speaking of the bathroom, I’m assuming it was designed for tall people. I giggled when all I could see when looking in the mirror above the sink was my forehead. Ah, just as well. No chance of scaring myself when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning.
The bathtub and vocal plumbing reminded me of our England B&B experiences, part and parcel of staying in refurbished older homes. Nothing to complain about, though.
And breakfast? We were lucky we stayed two nights to enjoy two yummy 3-course meals prepared and served by resident innkeepers Erin and henrY (didn’t get to ask him about the unconventional spelling of his name).
Again, a communal table but a relaxed vibe — a young couple who had attended college in Maine were in town for a wedding, a friendly woman from North Carolina with smiling eyes.
Both mornings I had the omelets while Len went for pancakes and French toast. Portion sizes were just right.
Both afternoons we enjoyed sitting in the lounge, listening to Billie Holiday with cups of tea and homemade cookies — gluten free peanut butter and chocolate chip. Mmmm!
Cornelius insisted on posing with as many pomegranates as he could find downstairs, and prepared this little gallery just for you (click on any image for full-size carousel view):
The Pomegranate definitely wakes you up and seduces your inner bohemian. It’s a haven for artistic inspiration with something new and different to discover around every corner, on every available surface.
Erin and henrY were friendly and helpful hosts (and good cooks), adding to the inn’s youngish, creative vibe, which pretty much characterizes the city of Portland itself.
From what I understand, the Pomegranate changed hands earlier this year, and is no longer owned by its original owner Isabel Smiles, my not-so-imaginary vacationing “friend” who’s actually an antiques dealer/art collector and designer — the person responsible for the look of this amazing place. Anyone who stays here “knows” her, though, and can’t help but love her quirky, gregarious style lit with polish and panache. It’s said she designed the inn with the hope that it would be totally unlike the guests’ own homes.
Guests I envision staying at the Pomegranate Inn: Martha Stewart (she reportedly has), Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin (he has too), Isadora Duncan, Maira Kalman, Melissa Sweet, Carlton Varney, Susan Branch, Joni Mitchell, Betsey Johnson, George Sand, Mata Hari, Claude Monet, Stevie Nicks, Diane Keaton, Winslow Homer, you, definitely you.
Nice touches: Jazz-baby background music, plush robes, free bottled water in the room, guest fridge downstairs, good baking aromas emanating from the kitchen, pomegranate poem posted in the main floor bathroom, quiet atmosphere, unintrusive service, lock box for valuables.
THE POMEGRANATE INN
49 Neal Street
Portland, ME 04102
* * *
You can see we enjoyed our stays at all three B&B’s in Southern Maine. Each had its own personality (country charm, tight ship perfection, art connoisseur), and we are definitely spoiled for a good homemade breakfast wherever we stay from now on. Another big plus — all these B&Bs were non-smoking, in accordance with Maine state law.
Did we have a favorite? Len liked Captain Jefferds, but as for me . . . I want to keep looking :).
* * *
♥ Up Next: A Little Taste of Portland
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.