The gorgeous Old Northside Historic District, about a mile and a half north of many of Indianapolis’ main attractions, was a prominent neighborhood in the late 19th century, when many of the city’s wealthier residents chose this area with the enviable cachet to build their mansions and churches. A tremendous number of those buildings remain, and walking along the shady streets to admire them all, especially in the midst of a glorious autumnal season when homeowners take Halloween decorating to creative heights, is one of the city’s special treats. Of course, it’s also an ideal location for a wonderful bed and breakfast.
The Looking Glass Inn was built in 1905 for the widow of a wholesale grocer about four years after her husband died. She lived here for only two years, until it was purchased by a lawyer who eventually rose to become the general attorney for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Eventually, the home emerged as a bed and breakfast in 1999 after the new owners made substantial renovations and redecorated it with fine antiques and richly colored fabrics and walls.
I climbed the handful of stairs to the front porch of this six-guestroom B&B with triple dormer windows and entered the wide hallway. Indeed, it felt as if I had passed through Lewis Carroll’s looking glass and stepped into something very different, to a time of the residential refinement and gentility of a century ago. To the left, I checked in at the homey office; to the right, a welcoming living room with ample seating, a fireplace, and a small library led to the dining area with stained-glass windows and built-in cabinets, and to the closed-in rear porch with a selection of board games to keep your family entertained that led to the off-street parking area.
At the end of the hallway, I headed upstairs, past the landing with the bay windows and pillowed window seat, to the Gold Room, an exceptionally comfortable accommodation with a queen-size bed and large windows. Across another wide hallway, a kitchenette offered coffee and tea options as well as packages of popcorn to toss into the microwave for a little snack whenever guests felt a little peckish.
After a fine night’s sleep, I rose the next morning to a routine that endured for just over a week: Seating myself in the elegant dining room and enjoying the daily continental breakfast. I helped myself to a variety of juices, milk, tea, and coffee; bagels and English muffins; hard-boiled eggs; make-them-yourself waffles with maple syrup; cinnamon rolls; fresh strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, and bananas; yogurt; and a selection of supersized muffins. It’s a great, and always potentially very filling, way to start your day exploring this winning neighborhood and the rest of this likeable city.
When each of my days was done, I returned to The Looking Glass Inn, claimed one of the rocking chairs or the bench swing on the front porch, and did what they’re designed to do—provide utter relaxation as you exchange greetings with people walking their dogs, follow a brown bunny as it hops across the lawn, and revel in the rainstorms from the dry security of your sheltered space or in the glorious sunsets behind the trees and houses across the street.
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