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“There's nothing that can be done.”

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Blue Heron Bed & Breakfast
Ranked #1 of 3 Ely B&B and Inns
GreenLeadersSilver level
Midwest
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“There's nothing that can be done.”
Reviewed 15 December 2010

First, the good. The B&B is in a beautiful setting, with terrific views and great proximity to the BWCA. The rooms are clean and well-kept, the beds very comfortable. The bird feeders attract lots of great birds, there are lots of homemade jams and things at breakfast, and Sam, the proprietor's dog, is at the ready with a wag and a soft muzzle to pet. So, if you're lucky, it's entirely possible to have a great experience at Blue Heron, as many reviewers clearly have. But if you're not lucky, like we were, you may find yourself wishing your stay ends as quickly as possible.

We were celebrating my 40th birthday weekend. We are not fabulously wealthy; this was a real splurge. We'd really had trouble picking the right room, and to her credit the hostess had been extremely patient with us before we arrived. We ended up choosing the suite with the hot tub -- specifically for the tub. Sadly, the tub malfunctioned the first time we used it, and long after bathtime ended and the tub drained, the jets would roar on every 15-20 minutes as if the thing was possessed. I called the proprietor, who by this point was in her home down the way. I was told there was "nothing that could be done." When I pointed out that we would be unable to sleep, I was told again "there's nothing that can be done." When I inquired about the empty rooms in the inn, I was directed to use one with an unmade bed, and told that sheets were in the dresser. They weren't. To be fair, I don't think she realized that, and she did eventually came up with a solution that quieted the tub by around midnight. Perhaps all's well that ends well, and we certainly don't blame the proprietor for the malfunction (stuff happens) -- but it was handled in a fairly stressful manner -- and at $136 a night, it wasn't an auspicious start.

The next morning she was apologetic, but the miscues continued and we both felt as though we were repeatedly being chastized for things that innkeepers normally take in stride. When I woke with a fever one morning, my husband asked if he could bring a breakfast plate in to me -- and the request was denied due "mice" ("she can come out in her pajamas or in a wrap"). Asking for an early breakfast late afternoon the night before resulted in a clipped "I wish I would have known about this sooner, I would have made the proper arrangements." If she'd answered firmly but kindly -- "no, I'm sorry, I can't" -- that actually would have been preferable. After awhile these uncomfortable exchanges really took the joy out of what was supposed to be a celebration. We found ourselves literally hiding and/or deferring (eg: we wanted to use the sauna one night but were afraid to ask).

My 40th birthday present was an amazing day of dogsledding -- though my husband probably shouldn't have gone as he was fighting a cold and the temps were below zero most of the day. When we returned we were happy but bone-cold ... and so was our room. The heat was out, and we both really needed to get warm -- and fast. I called the innkeeper, who again was in her home across the property, and was informed that she had selected a "savings" plan with the electric company that allowed them to turn off certain circuits in the B&B when power demand was high (as it probably was that evening, with temps dipping to -25). The backup space heater in the room was also not working. I again was told "there's nothing that can be done." After I persisted and pointed out that we would be unable to stay in the room with no heat, I was told to leave the door open so heat from a woodstove in another room would get in, and use the privacy screens (not a great option when your partner is hacking up a storm, coughing loudly and uncontrollably). She also directed me to get space heaters out of another room. I grabbed a few space heaters and promptly blew a fuse -- I probably should have been thinking more carefully about where I plugged them in, but while negotiating all this in a winter coat, I admit I wasn't operating on all cylinders. When I called her back for help, she was unable to mask her displeasure, and ended the conversation abruptly (as in, "click."). Thankfully a very sweet long-term resident of the inn intervened, flipped the circuit back on, and eventually (after about two and a half hours) our room heated to an acceptable temperature.

Both my husband and I think the innkeeper is a very good person at heart -- she has built a truly beautiful place -- IN a beautiful place -- and she clearly works very hard. The recession certainly has not been easy on her -- and guests (like us) are not always easy to deal with. We admit that we can be really difficult at times! But ultimately it seemed things could have been handled with more grace and gentleness.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
12 Thank sleep99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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72 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 (18)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
St. Paul, MN
1 review
Reviewed 30 November 2010

Many B&B's restrict children in order to cater to the couples market. Others are so full of fussy antiques that it's like you are sleeping in a museum. That's fine, I suppose but it limits your options if you are traveling with a kid. This B&B is run by a really nice couple who gave us lots of ideas for activities. The lodge was very inviting, cozy and beautifully situated. Breakfast was awesome and we had so much fun just hanging out, enjoying the first snows of the year, hiking with the dog, Sam and sledding. There is a wood-fired sauna and our room had a spot-jet tub. A nice combination of luxury and casual. We'll be back in the summer when we can canoe on the lake.

Stayed November 2010, travelled with family
Helpful?
Thank Jennythenipper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
81 reviews
79 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 October 2010

Tucked down a lane in the woods and overlooking a lake, the owners have designed their lovely home with a lot of thought and loving care. The minute you walk into the lounge area, you feel relaxed; it has a lovely 'woodsy ' feel but there is no compromise on luxury. We stayed in 'So Forth' which was so comfortable and airy and had wonderful views across to the BWCAW; everything was spotlessly clean. The shower/toilet was a little small but was not a problem at all. There are lots of little touches everwhere which just add to the overall atmosphere.

Jo and Bill are great hosts and we enjoyed chatting with other guests over breakfast in the lovely dining area. Their friendly and lovable Dog, Sam welcomes you as you pull up on the drive and he is available to guide you on the trails around the property!!

A really lovely, peaceful place to stay with large decks where you can enjoy the sounds of nature - they even provide a warm wrap so you can sit out in the evenings. Unfortunately when we were there we had a bit of rain so could not take advantage of the deck as much as we had hoped - maybe another time!!

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank mummabear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 October 2010

Luxury under the stars surrounded by peace, with friendly and competent owners, and very nice rooms and a small restaurant. We arrived late and there were welcoming notes on both entrances lest we not feel lost. Dinner was just finishing and were greeted and walked to our room. A walk onto the deck put us under stars with no lights or sounds from Ely or neighbors. It was a pleasant weekend, nice accommodations, a good get away in the woods. And this is the only B & B in the Ely area.

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank expectafairdeal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Palo Alto, California
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 June 2009

Blue Heron B&B is located on a lake and they have canoes if you want to go out. I stayed in the "So On" room, located upstairs with a door to the outside deck. Jo and Bill are wonderful hosts. There are two common areas, one upstairs with access to microwave and frig, and one downstairs. They provide a common computer and wireless internet access. It's a great place to sit and view birds (I saw a bald eagle fly over, it's nesting nearby), a wonderful view of the stars at night. Jo is very knowledable about the local birds. It's about 7 miles outside of town at the end of the road, so very quiet and peaceful. They also provide bug spray, which I hadn't brought along and needed because the black flies were out in full force. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal pancakes, turkey sausage, fruit, juice and tea or coffee, served family style. The room was comfortable, bathroom was a little small with small shower, but otherwise perfect. They also run a restaurant Wednesday-Saturday. But when I was there, it was Sunday night and I was the only guest. They also have an old-fashioned sauna, but it was closed for repairs.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank MaxBoris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
mgerkey@usfamily.net
1 review
Reviewed 26 March 2008

Just returned from spending two lovely nights at this Bed and Breakfast. We have been going to Ely for well over 20 years to camp in the BWCA. To celebrate our 61st birthdays, we decided to try a dog sled adventure. We chose to go on a day long dog sled trip through White Wilderness and learned of the Blue Heron through their website information. We loved our stay here! Jo and Bill were wonderful hosts and the sauna was so welcome after a day of dog sledding. Our room was very nice - we chose it for the jacuzzi type tub and we enjoyed it. Next, time though, we might opt for the room on the second floor that has a view of the lake from the bed. Sam, their resident B&B dog is also a wonderful host. He even provides "guiding service" on the trails near the lodge.
Unfortunately, the dining room was not open for dinners while we were there, but we went into Ely and enjoyed a burger at the Ely Steakhouse one night and dinner at the Grand Ely Lodge the second night. In the summer, we usually have a burger at Stoney Ridge the night before we go into the BWCA and then lunch at the Chocolate Moose the day we come out. All in all, we love visiting Ely and now want to go more often in the winter time. It is beautiful.

  • Liked — Location and Sauna
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank magerk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
1 review
Reviewed 1 January 2008

We stayed at the Blue Heron as part of a 3 day dogsledding trip. Jo and Bill were gracious hosts who cooked outstanding breakfasts. Our room was comfortable, the common space were inviting, and the sauna was heated every evening. The Blue Heron is located 6 miles off of the main highway through Ely and is located on a large lake with ample trails. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would definitely return.

  • Liked — The atmosphere
  • Disliked — Our room was small
  • Stayed December 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank Jerkat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Blue Heron Bed & Breakfast

Property: Blue Heron Bed & Breakfast
Address: 827 Kawishiwi Trl, Ely, MN 55731-8270
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Minnesota > Ely
Amenities:
Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Ely
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a 5 room Bed and Breakfast, that sits on the edge of the BWCA Wilderness. We are located on Farm Lake with South Farm Lake {which is in the Boundary Waters} just around the corner. We have canoes and kayaks for our guest to use along with a wood burning sauna. We are 7 miles from Ely,Mn. We have a lot of species of birds, deer,ducks, geese, Loons, Fox and an occasional bear. We offer a full "Country Style" Breakfast and lunches upon request. ... more   less 

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