Thousands of people visit Mackinac Island each year. You can hardly blame them. The island's bygone-era atmosphere invites all who step ashore to slip into a slower pace, one in which picket fences, garden courtyards, narrow avenues and a no-cars-allowed tradition inspire ladies and gents to amble arm in arm for hours. Problem is, such irresistible allure can make it tough to find a room at an inn that's not overrun.
Chateau Lorraine, then, is an island treasure. A French Quarter-style Victorian, the B&B is comfy, at the quiet end of a shady lane that bumps up against the bustling downtown, and affordable — exceptionally so if you take a room that shares a bathroom.
The chateau also wholeheartedly embraces the over-the-top Mackinac aesthetic — petunias spilling out of window boxes, guest rooms swathed in confections of pink, white eyelet and lace, and a parlor that boasts the baby grand piano from the classic Mackinac Island movie Somewhere in Time.
In-room tea is wonderful to come home to after a day spent exploring the island by tandem bicycle. While it's tempting to sip your Earl Grey beneath the netting-encircled bed before heading to town for supper, take your tea to the wicker sofa on the chateau's enclosed porch. Late afternoon sun shines here, and with windows cast open, you can hear the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages down the lane.
Morning brings a modest breakfast to the dining room: tea, coffee, fresh fruits, pastries, hard-boiled eggs and skewered deli meats are the usual fare. Eat your fill, then retire with your coffee to the chateau's sister inn across the lane, Pine Cottage (another great out-of-the-way inn). Its well-loved wraparound porch gets full morning sun and offers dozens of rocking chairs upon which you'll want to take your time enjoying the rays.
Chateau Lorraine's summer rates start at $75; call 906-847-3820. Special off-season rates November thru April; call 386-322-0953.
Lynda Twardowski is travel editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in April 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.