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“Olcott House is a destination of it's own”

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Olcott House Bed and Breakfast Inn
Ranked #6 of 11 Duluth B&B and Inns
Golden Valley, Minnesota
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Olcott House is a destination of it's own”
Reviewed 14 June 2011

Visiting Olcott House is a destination of it's own. From arrival to departure it is a well curated visual feast of art objects, antiques, period clothing and fine decorative arts.
We were fortunate to stay two nights, each in a different suite, accompanied by fabulous breakfasts in the mornings. The yogurt parfait followed by eggs benedict were superb followed by morning two with fresh grapefruit, blueberry waffles and organic chicken and apple sausage. Our gracious host, David, made us feel at home immediately. Knowing that we enjoyed a small dog in our lives, he brought his adorable doxie puppy, Oliver, to our rooms for a few pets and laughs.
David easily and accurately directed us to local fine dining as well as cultural attractions.
We will be visiting Olcott House again soon to experience the other suites and more of David's hospitality.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank daned3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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110 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bloomington, Minnesota
Level Contributor
21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 June 2011

We stayed here Friday night through Sunday morning for our first anniversary. It was everything I had hoped it would be. The house is beautiful, historic, and charming. You can tell a lot of thought went into finding the right antiques and displaying them just so. And the owners obviously care about the house and its history. There's a library with books (many on the Duluth area/history), DVD's, and some games, and there's a piano in the music room that unfortunately, none of the guests knew how to play when we were there. However, there's always soft music playing in the library, music room, and dining room for you to enjoy. There's also a newspaper for the house each morning.

David was very accomodating, letting us drop off the top tier of our wedding cake prior to checkin, defrosting it in his fridge, and then bringing it up to our room at our requested time, complete with fancy plates and silverware. We really appreciated that. I saw one negative review in here about one of the owners' atitudes and can't imagine where that would be coming from. David was a perfect mix of being warm and welcoming while also giving us our privacy.

We stayed in the Lake Superior room. It looked just like the pictures online, with the beautiful 4-poster bed and stool. There's a gas fireplace, which we weren't planning on using in June .. but it actually came in handy this weekend! I was a little worried what the bathroom would look like, since there were no pictures posted, but it was actually pretty cute and decently sized. It had a modern tub with shower. There's a nice sunny sitting room (3-season) and you can walk out onto a small balcony to sit. You can't see a ton from there (glimpses of the lake, I think), but it's nice to sit and rock on the chairs and have a glass of wine in the breeze. You can also catch a glimpse of the lights from downtown from the bed and the shower.

Breakfasts were awesome - don't miss! Delicious and beautifully-presented. Candles were lit. David also made a recommendation to eat dinner at the New Scenic Cafe on the North Shore, and that recommendation was right on! Delicious ...

All in all, we had a really great time and would love to come back sometime. The one slightly negative thing I will mention is that it took forever for the water from the bathroom sink in our room to get hot. The shower got warm quickly enough, but for whatever reason, the sink took a really long time. I gave up and washed my face briskly! I chalked it up to being a 100+ year old house.

And, one recommendation I might make for this place is that there be some sort of refrigeration available. Mini-fridges in each room would probably take away from the atmosphere, but perhaps one normal-sized fridge that guests could access and share would be a nice feature. We had a cooler that we used to transport our defrosting cake up from the cities, but we found ourselves using it all weekend for leftovers/picnic supplies/wine to sip in the room.

Room Tip: Check out the pictures online.
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  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank hmmoore12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 June 2011

The Olcott may be a house to see on a walking tour of historic Duluth mansions. The owners’ taste is demonstrated by arrangements of books and vintage objet d'art throughout the house. While the proprietor’s love of old homes and garage sales is evident, I won’t be the first reviewer to suggest he lacks a similar affection for guests.

Olcott House reminds me of visiting grandmother’s home as a child; we were tolerated, but not really welcome. “Breakfast is at 9am. I think I’m doing eggs-benedict”, he sniffed. “Do you drink Coffee”, he asked. “Yes”, we replied in unison, emphatically. “Coffee’s at 8am”, he replied. “Really? We’re early risers”, we said. “REALLY”, he replied, with emphasis. Here was an opportunity that even a reasonably attentive host might have seized to accommodate a guest's desire for a cup of coffee, never minding paying customers. But the opportunity passed, declined in favor of whatever more important activity was planned until 8am.

Olcott House accommodations are equally indifferent; not particularly clean, not in particularly good condition, not particularly comfortable, not altogether particularly functional. The environment of an old house, however, neither surprised us, nor bothered us, but the house’s careful staging in contrast to the proprietor’s lack of warmth and hospitality made us feel no more important than props in a drama featuring the house, starring him, but where guests are not really welcomed in reality.

One final thing. We had a private conversation with the owner when we checked in concerning playing the house piano. That conversation was later repeated to us by another guest in the house, suggesting we were being mocked. Such creepy things as that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
8 Thank neverflyguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minnesota City, Minnesota
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 May 2011

This B & B is a historical gem right in the heart of Duluth. Before you even walk into this magnificant mansion, you're breathe is already taken away as you approach the entry. Inside you will find a blend of elegance and style everywhere. From the grand piano, to the large fireplaced library that leads out to a huge porch for the guests, to the polished crystal on display in the dining room, every possible detail was meticulously maintained in this beautiful inn.

As someone who appreciates fine woodwork, I was amazed at all the beautiful mahogony all throughout the inn. Note the spindle-work up the staircase and the gorgeous sliding doors on the main floor when you are there. You could spend a week in this house and still not see all of the unique beauty it has. I spent quite a bit of time looking throughout the inn just enjoying its beauty.

We stayed in the Lester River Master Suite. It was spaceous, comfortable, and very clean. We learned that there was a blend of the house's history and the innkeepers' family history all throughout the rooms and house. The bathroom was large and absolutely perfect for the two of us. Note the beautiful plasterwork on the ceiling in the bathroom.

The innkeepers were very pleasant, polite, and friendly, but not at all invasive. They answered all our various questions about the history of the house, while taking us on a tour through the inn. They also offered us restaurant recommendations and other suggestions for evening entertainment, which proved to be good ones for us. They even offer their guests wine and cheese for the evening!

I have stayed at a number of B & B's throughout the Midwest, and have encountered a variety of breakfast dishes and dining room setting styles. I always appreciate a good breakfast experience when I get one. The Olcott House had a wonderful breakfast with excellent service. We had a french toast breakfast that was so good, you will throw out your own recipe to put in its place. Not only was it delicious, but it came in hearty portions for those of us who appreciate that. I was warmly offered seconds, which I have found to be rare and gladly took full advantage of. Plus, you get a seating choice. You can sit in a private, more intimate, setting in the dining room as a couple, or you can join the other guests at a larger table if that's your preference. Unlike me, I realize that not everyone is comfortable sitting at a table with strangers and getting the opportunity to get to know them. It was nice to notice that the innkeepers thought of this and accommodated, which I noticed a shy couple took advantage of for their intimate dining pleasure. Note the mahogony built-in seat at the bay window in the dining room. There's a lot more to it than just the wood.

If you're looking for a place to stay in Duluth for your next R & R retreat, I highly recommend the Olcott House for your stay. Again, I've stayed at quite a few B & B's throughout the Midwest, most of which are thankfully wonderrful memories. The Olcott House definitely tops the charts for places to stay in the Midwest, and I think its the best accommodations Duluth has to offer.

I thank the innkeepers of the Olcott House for their hospitality and for creating a wonderful memory for us to cherish.

Room Tip: Lester River Master Suite is amazing
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  • Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Woody19663
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Duluth, Minnesota
Level Contributor
6 reviews
Reviewed 9 April 2011

I moved to Duluth a few years ago, and I love driving by the beautiful historical mansions. The Olcott House has been my favorite, and I was very excited to stay there recently! This place is really a gem of Duluth! Between the welcoming host, excellent service, and breath-taking elegance, it was even more than I had imagined! My partner and I were in awe of the beauty and comfort of our room, and we felt very at home! Breakfast at the Olcott house was delicious and served with a touch of class!!! There was an amazing french toast with amaretto cream and had to ask for the recipe. Not to mention, the location of Olcott House is perfectly set between downtown Duluth and the beautful Northshore of Lake Superior. The host is very knowlegable about the area and can direct you to whatever peaks your interest!!!
We can't wait to come back to stay in another unique room . In fact after our lovely visit, my partner booked a room for his mother while she is visiting for Easter!
This is a must see and definitely worth your travel, time, and cost!!!!!

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Loveytown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Grand Marais
Level Contributor
41 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 March 2011

If you think all owners of B and B's are friendly, outgoing and accommodating people then you haven't been to the Olcott House. Don't park in the driveway, take your shoes off at the door and be prepared to pay immediately, before being shown your room. We made the mistakes of parking in the driveway and leaving our money in the car and were asked to go and move the car and get the money before being shown the room.

The house is beautiful, the room was comfortable and I loved the three season porch. The decor was great and free soda and coffee were available. The owner took the time to show us where things were and asked if we needed help finding a restaurant for the evening.

I read the book that was in the room and noticed it said, "Breakfast served promptly at 9am." It also said if you want breakfast in your room then it's a continental breakfast and they want to know that the night before.

Some poor soul didn't read their book and asked for a tray to bring to his woman companion in their room. The waitress got the owner who then explained the "rules" and said it would be a half an hour before they could deliver the breakfast to the room. The man went back to his room, returned with his companion to sit down at the dining table. The waitress was aghast to see them there and rudely asked if they were now dining in? The couple was embarassed by being reprimanded by both the owner and the waitress. The other people dining were shocked at the treatment.

The breakfst was ok with a yogurt parfait but would have been better had the frittatta been served hot.

Friendliness was lacking, customer service poor and we won't expect a warm and welcome return because we won't be going back.

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Paddling_hiking_Gal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, Owner at Olcott House Bed and Breakfast Inn, responded to this review, 9 April 2011
We are sorry this guest did not have a great stay with us. We strive to give outstanding, friendly service and always try to learn from our mistakes.

We would like to clarify that we include detailed, very simple instructions with our reservation confirmation that explains very clearly that free parking is conveniently located on the street directly in front of the house, that we kindly ask guests to remove street shoes at the door to protect our carpets and hardwood floors (and even suggest they bring a pair of indoor shoes which most guests do), and that full payment is due prior to check-in. We also ask guests to not park in the driveway to prevent cars from being “blocked in.” In general, guests have not had any problem with these very simple guidelines which are followed at virtually any elegant, historic Bed and Breakfast.

These guests were paying part of their stay with a Gift Certificate. Normally the balance due is charged to their credit card. These guests asked us to make an exception by paying with cash, which we agreed to when the reservation was made. Had they had the certificate and cash with them, we certainly would have allowed them to check in to the suite and move the car after getting settled. Since they had no identification, cash or the Gift Certificate on them, we asked them to get them from the car and suggested that they move the car to avoid being blocked in. We also pointed out that it would be a more direct line to the front door to bring in luggage. I do not think any reputable B&B or Hotel would allow a guest to check in to a room without completing the check-in process which included presenting the Gift Certificate/Photo ID and paying the balance.

Regarding the “poor soul”, who requested a continental tray, we apologize for not handling this privately and will endeavor to do so in the future. We discuss breakfast with each guest during check in and will ensure that we advise guests of all options in the future. In this particular situation, the guest had advised us that they would be having breakfast in the Dining Room. It was almost 9 AM when this guest requested a tray. We were more than happy to accommodate his request and told him we would deliver a tray to his suite at 9:30 once we had completed preparing and serving breakfast in the Dining Room. We returned to the kitchen to begin serving 11 guests breakfast at 9:00. We also began preparing the tray. Again, we are sorry for our staff’s reaction when the guest sat down at the table at 9:10. There is certainly a better way to ask the guest if they are now having breakfast in the Dining Room. As any agile Innkeeper does, we shifted gears again, and served all of our guests in the Dining Room. The Strata was taken directly from a hot oven at 9:10 and immediately served. We take pride in serving, delicious, hot meals and once again apologize to this guest that the meal was not hot. As a footnote, the not so “poor soul” and his lovely partner had an outstanding stay, enjoyed fabulous meals at restaurants we recommended, ate breakfast the next day in the Dining Room and said they were eager to return soon.

The good news is, these guests will not be returning and future guests can be assured that they will never have to deal with their sour and unhappy personalities. We take these critiques seriously and will work together with our staff to be more warm and welcoming. We truly do want to offer guests a wonderful, amazing experience at The Olcott House Bed & Breakfast Inn.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2011

Here's a copy of a note I dropped to the staff of the Olcott House after a recent weekend getaway:

Dear Olcott House Staff:

I just wanted to drop a quick line to once again say thanks for helping to make our recent weekend visit to Duluth so very special. Until pulling up to the outside of the Olcott House, my wife thought we were only on a bit of a sightseeing tour, taking a look at some of the more beautiful examples of architecture in the area. She gasped out loud when I told her that the Olcott would also serve as our evening's accommodations. There was even more gasping upon seeing our incredible suite.

Further, the unrelenting beauty and charm of the house were matched only by the hospitality of our hosts. Even in the face of caring for his partner (put out of commission by an unfortunate car accident), David went out of his way to make us feel at home at a time when treating guests as an inconvenience might be seen by many as an excusable necessity. At no point did we feel anything less than warmly welcomed, from being greeted upon arrival, to being served a truly sumptuous and unhurried breakfast, to being thanked for our visit upon check-out.

Needless to say, the overwhelming combination of astonishingly gorgeous accommodations, warm, friendly hospitality and amazing value will stick with us until our next looked-forward-to visit. I'd enthusiastically recommend the Olcott House to anyone looking for a plush getaway, and plan to do exactly that whenever possible.

We'll be seeing you again sometime over the summer, as we're already planning our next trip.

-Jim,
Richfield, MN

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank UglyShirts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Olcott House Bed and Breakfast Inn

Property: Olcott House Bed and Breakfast Inn
Address: 2316 E 1st St, Duluth, MN 55812-1807
Region: United States > Minnesota > Duluth
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 11 B&Bs / Inns in Duluth
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
"A celebration of elegance, class and history…" One of Minnesota’s architectural gems! 1904 Georgian Colonial Mansion with six gorgeous, very private and very large suites. Fine antiques, gourmet candlelight breakfasts. Complimentary wine & cheese. Relax and enjoy grand luxury in an historic inn! ... more   less 

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