Travelogue – (conducting a B&B showdown in) Provincetown
We’re back in the USA for the final leg of our adventure. After a brutal head-winds-all-the-way flight from Prague to JFK, we jumped on a connector flight up to Boston and then drove out to Provincetown – located on the tip of Cape Cod. What a couple of days that was. Aside from waking up at 3:00 am every morning (uh, night), we’re adjusting well and enjoying this final portion of our journey.
We’ve heard about Cape Cod so much that – when presented with a little gap in our itinerary – we knew it was the perfect chance to squeeze in a visit. Those Portugese fisherman, who first came here in the 17th Century, sure knew how to pick a place to hunker down. It’s part rugged, part pretty and brimming with charm. A wise guy, and our new best friend, described it to us a place for misfit toys. We totally get the love-fest for the Cape and ultra-friendly P-town (as it’s called) and understand why people from all over make this stunning spot a yearly tradition.
Let the showdown commence.
With such short notice, we had a difficult time deciding where to stay. There are so many choices. In P-town, you’re likely to end up at an intimate B&B/guest house, so the decision is an especially important one. There’s no monster-sized hotel anonymity when you stay in a place with only a handful of rooms. Because we were also scouting out the area for a future, longer visit, we thought we’d whittle down the myriad choices to two and stay at both.
Planning a trip to P-town? Read on, and you’ll see that we’ve saved you from all of the heavy lifting of choosing a guest house. First off, you can’t go wrong with either of our finalists; you’ll be well taken care of at both places. But we’re not guys who shy away from burdensome choices, so we did pick a favorite.
Stop #1: White Porch Inn
The minute we walked into the White Porch Inn, we had that “we done good” feeling. It was mid-afternoon, so the property was cleared out and we were able to selfishly explore it on our own. As we walked around the common areas before registering, an overwhelming sense of comfort descended upon us. It’s a place that you just want to be. It’s like the house you envision that your favorite, rich (but friendly and accessible) relatives own.
Everything was just right – very nice but not off-putting or fussy, as guest houses can sometimes be. After climbing the steep staircase, we made our way to our room. It definitely delivered the “beach chic” vibe the website promises. High quality furnishings in lots of soothing and warm earth tones. We took the opportunity to poke around and check out some of the eight other rooms – five more in the main house and three next door in the carriage house; all are named after Cape lighthouses. Charm factor = 10.
Clearly, Tom (the owner) and Matt (the manager) are unwaveringly dedicated to keeping the inn top-notch and inviting. Enjoying a cup of coffee – and getting some work done (cuz love don’t pay da bills) – in the living area, we overheard them talking about upcoming tweaks and adjustments that would raise the bar even higher for the busy season ahead.
After a great half-night of sleep (remember, we’re on Prague time), we overdid it with way too much coffee as well as the inn’s thoughtful and complete breakfast. Feeling like we were back in Europe, we enjoyed a spread of yogurt, granola, fresh fruit – the works; certainly something to suit every taste. Then, Miro knocked out a killer vegetarian omelet before we headed out for a long run to check out the outdoorsy side of P-town. We gaped at shades of blue, tan and green that we hadn’t seen before. With so much water around the thin strip of land, the quality of light treats you to a breathtaking combination of colors.
Adrenaline pumping from our experience jogging around the area, we made quick work of scrambling back to the inn and packing up.
Stop #2: Carpe Diem Guesthouse
Our second accommodation in P-town ended up being right across the street from the first (it’s a small city but not that small). After the refreshingly quick transition of 50 feet, we plopped down our bags in the room and set out to explore the property.
Carpe Diem is for amenity fanatics. This 19 room guest house packs in a lot of incredible surprises. From all-day port and sherry to wine and cheese each evening to the onsite spa – complete with hot-tub, steam room and sauna – Carpe Diem delivers the extras like it’s nobody’s business. A bit later, in the steam room, we relaxed our run-weary muscles and oohed and awed over the multiple aromatherapy treatments. Hmm, which would it be – alpine, eucalyptus or lavender. Pretty fancy.
Here too, it’s obvious that the owners have gotten good at dotting i’s and crossing t’s. A lot of care has gone into the guest experience, and it shows. With our happy hour wine in hand, we roamed around the property some more. The rooms, each dedicated to literary icons, have more of an upscale, old time feel. Here, it’s as if your staying at your classy and eccentric grandma’s house (What? Granny has a steam room?!). Worn out, we crawled into bed early and were lulled to sleep by the buzz of wine and the smell of lavender coming off our bodies.
At breakfast, we gorged ourselves on another European breakfast and acknowledged that our two finalist properties both rock. Andrew, responsible for whipping up breakfast, shared his love of adventure and his plans to spend several weeks hiking in Colorado. Three cups of coffee in, we scooped up the last of our eggs, cereal and toast and hit the street to take some final pictures of P-town, a new NVR favorite.
Staying at both properties was, really, an embarrassment of riches. Both are exceptional, and it really boils down to personal preference. For us though, the choice regarding which we’ll come back to is undramatically easy.
As you know, we tend to lean into the feeling of a place or an experience. As is the case with people, the stuff on the outside is nice, but it’s the intangibles – the essence – that counts. For us, White Porch Inn offered the ease and simplicity that we love without sacrificing stellar quality. Just as a job is only as good as a manager, a hotel or guest house is, too, only as good as the person running the place. Without a doubt, White Porch Inn has something extra special going on in that regard.
Warning to sensitive types: Pull out the tissue because we’re about to throw out the biggest cliche evah.
We felt like we arrived at the White Porch Inn as strangers and left as friends. If that feeling can be evoked in two guys who don’t much care for guest houses and couldn’t even give Prague an “A” rating, something must be going right. And it’s a good thing, too, because you want that feeling when you take the B&B route and belly up to the breakfast table with people you haven’t met before. Just don’t wear your jammies because, well, that’s just plain crazy and – in the case of the White Porch Inn – you just might never leave. We didn’t want to.
If you are in need of a little get away, consider Provincetown and both of these guest houses. It should be said that P-town is a haven for artists, writers and all sorts of freethinking and open-minded peeps. That’s why the gays love it there. If you’re not down with that, look elsewhere (and then check yourself).
After all of our carrying on, you’re probably wondering who in the hell paid for all of this. We did; nothing was sponsored. The unique beauty and charm of P-town (obviously) resonated with us. We can’t wait to get back to the land of misfit toys and the White Porch Inn.