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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
Arden Forest Inn in Ashland simple and elegant
Arts & Entertainment
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Arden Forest Inn in Ashland simple and elegant

by Marian Michener SGN Contributing Writer

My partner and I spent a weekend in the beautiful setting of the Arden Forest Inn in Ashland, Oregon. We could tell we were going to be entertained when Corbett Unmack, one of the owners, joked that we should let him know what level of invasiveness we wanted: make up the beds, go through our luggage, sell our things, etc. When he was told one of us was feeling sick, he said that he is a trained non-physician. Duly noted.

Corbett told us he usually greets guests on their first morning in this way, because it sets just the right tone and instills an invigorating, start-the-day-right kind of energy for everybody - himself included.

The wisecracks continued delightfully all weekend. Corbett's partner, Bill Faial, at one point scowled playfully and remarked, 'Let's see whether we make it to 31,' referring to the pair's 30-year partnership. Part of the fun of the place is Bill and Corbett's discussion of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays with the guests over Bill's splendid breakfasts. We had lively and animated discussions about the plays with the owners and other guests staying at the inn. A lovely library sits adjacent to the dining area, which includes Shakespeare's collected plays. When a point was raised about whether a piece of dialogue had been changed in the Shakespeare play we had just seen, we put the library to good use.

The two men also have a historical perspective on Ashland and the plays, having lived there for 15 years. They contribute political analysis and restaurant recommendations, in addition to their attentiveness to every detail.

Corbett offered brandy and biscotti to welcome us. He did the right thing when I explained that I am a sober alcoholic, and made the brandy disappear. My partner, however, insisted the biscotti stay put.

The interior decoration throughout the house works well with Bill's own paintings. Clearly an accomplished artist, it was a pleasure to experience that part of his world. Our suite included pre-Raphaelite art, gargoyles, and an art deco lamp that echoed the fixtures in the bathroom. High-count cotton sheets with a comforter that coordinated with the mauve and forest green walls made for a pleasing atmosphere. The furniture was nicely ornamented. Wainscoting ran throughout our rooms. A small stained glass window hung over the stairs. The dining room was painted Aztec gold and burnt orange with patterning on the lower walls.

The bathroom had a walk-in shower with dark green tiles contrasting with sculptured white ones and a turquoise colored sink - and plenty of hot water! I had forgotten to bring toothpaste, so was happy the amenities included a small tube of Tom's natural toothpaste, honey shampoo, and almond lotion.

Breakfast our first day was garden quiche, almond brandy rolls, sliced fresh fruit, and delicious coffee and juice. The second day it was Spanish frittata, maple scones, and fresh fruit. The food knocked the ball out of the park. High compliments to the chef! If part of the joy of eating sumptuous food is the visual appearance, the chef gets a blue ribbon. It was made by an artist, and it showed. It was hard to finish eating, because that meant leaving the table! My partner admired the kitchen through the glass doors. Guests are not permitted in the kitchen for obvious health code reasons, but nonetheless she admitted it must be a fun kitchen to cook in.

If you want use of a kitchen, there is a nice small guest one located next to the main house with a refrigerator, bottled water (hot and cold), and a microwave. There is not a sink with running water, but the hosts are happy to whisk away dirty dishes.

Corbett and Bill's garden tops off the experience. We were lucky to have some lovely weather while we were in Ashland, and my partner sat outside in the sunshine soaking up the surroundings. The garden has a gazebo with a fountain flanked by a pair of lions. A giant wind chime, statues of a Chinese soldier, Buddha, and Kwan Yin, and miscellaneous whimsical pieces complete the ambiance. There is a small heated swimming pool off the garden area, which in the hotter days of summer would be most welcome. Trees, shrubs, and blooming flowers soften the environment. The landscaping provided different niches guests could sit in. It turned out to be a lovely place to listen to the birds singing and find a few moments of quiet reflection.

The Inn has free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and is accessible to disabled guests. Five rooms with private baths and entrances give a variety of bed options. The prices run from $140 to $290 per night. Some discounts are available, including one for last-minute booking. Check out their website at www.afinn.com.

This warm and effervescent B&B apparently brings back guests year after year. Evidently, owners Bill and Corbett are doing many things right. The owners know their guests - one couple talked about how in years past they had brought their children, now the kids were grown and they came alone. Having that sort of history with your guests, speaks volumes about the comfort of the Arden Forest Inn.

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