If you’re looking for a luxurious weekend away where you can kick back, relax, and learn something new, this is the perfect place for you.
You’re driving along the East side of Cayuga Lake, up and down the rolling hills dotted with vineyards and farmlands, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a quaint little village with a single pub, one small bespoke grocer, and an impressive array of historic mansion… and then it’s gone, within a mile you’re out of the village and back to farmland. The sign says “You Imagined It”, and it almost feels that way. Aurora is a historically preserved oasis amongst wine country, and much of that is thanks to the Inns of Aurora.
We were invited out by the Inns of Aurora to stay at one of their properties, the E.B. Morgan House, and experience their new line of cooking demonstrations known as Aurora Cooks!
The Inns of Aurora
Spread out over the adorable and well-maintained village are seven distinct properties that make up the Inns of Aurora. These include:
- E.B. Morgan House: the luxurious residence we had the privilege of staying in, see below for our full details
- Rowland House: a 1903 residence converted into a ten room inn that features an amazing wraparound porch and lovely sitting areas decorated with antiques and modern art
- Aurora Inn: the village’s original inn built in 1833, which has ten rooms for guests, an event space, and the 1833 Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant serving up breakfast, brunch and dinner where you can dine while looking out over the lake
- Wallcourt Hall: a 1909 dormitory for a girl’s school that has been converted into sixteen private guest rooms in a London mod style (the floor tiles in the entryway are amazing and you must see the Dalmatian dotted bathrooms
- Zabriske House: built in 1856, this property isn’t quite ready for guests but is scheduled to open in Summer 2019
- The Schoolhouse Activities Center: located in a historic school house, this building serves as the location for various activities that are free to guests, including yoga, hands-on art classes, workshops and more
- Fargo Bar & Grill: the local pub, which was built in 1833 with the original inn and still is used in the same way
- Village Market: a grocer serving basic needs such as gifts, coffee, premade lunches and dinner, soups, beer and drinks, and delicious looking baked goods
These amazing properties, in fact the whole village, is preserved and maintained to such a high standard because of Pleasant Rowland. Rowland was a student at Wells College, located less than a half mile down the road, and after making her fortune selling American Girl dolls, she returned to Aurora and helped to revive the village. By establishing Inns of Aurora, she made this quiet village into a tourist destination, reviving its economy and saving the historic landscape.
While you’re in Aurora, I highly suggest taking their walking tour and learning more about how this town was transformed. It’s an incredible dive into history and will make you appreciate all the little details even more. Or just ask the staff to share a little history with you- everyone we talked with was so enthusiastic about the work they were doing to help preserve and share their area.
The E.B. Morgan House
Built in 1858 by Edwin Barber Morgan, the property has seven unique guest rooms. When we first walked in, we were greeted our Sean, our innkeeper, who checked us in from the library and gave us a quick tour of the parlor, dining room and butler’s pantry, all available for guests to use. We stayed in Room #3, which had an amazing view of the lake, a four poster bed, fireplace, sitting area, and the most amazing marble tiled bathroom I’ve ever seen.
The walls and furniture are historic, and have the feel that they were once original to the house, but this is complemented by modern artwork and amenities like free WiFi and a gas fireplace. And yes, there is a TV and sound system, though you’ll probably be too busy enjoying the estate and village to ever turn it on.
The Inns of Aurora really stick with the whole idea that this is a true historic inn, and they provide all the amenities you would expect. The innkeeper is on site 24 hours a day, there to help with whatever you may need. They also provide a happy hour of wine and cheese, and a breakfast of homemade granola bars and hot coffee.
One of the fun touches in the house was that the butler’s pantry is fully decked out in Mackenzie-Childs ceramics. Pleasant Rowland saved this iconic brand, and that connection between the two companies is clear in the inns. I loved being able to sit on a historic couch, watching the sun rise over the lake, while sipping freshly made coffee out of a quirky pink, orange and blue Mackenzie-Child mug.
We also learned that you can rent the entire house and have dinner parties in the dining room! I love the idea of having all seven rooms filled with family and friends, and having one of the Inns’ amazing chefs cook us a meal.
If you’re a guest of the property, you also have some perks, like the ability to use their kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, free access to the Schoolhouse Activity Center, discounts for Aurora Cooks!, and other activities in the area. We were able to do a walking tour of the village with Alex, and it was a fantastic way to kick off our overnight.
This was by far one of the best overnights we’ve ever had. The attention to detail, the impeccable service, the enthusiastic staff- every moment was perfect. It is also one of the most romantic nights we’ve experienced in a long time- we spent a large chunk of our night sipping champagne in front of the fireplace, talking and relaxing.
Rates: The rates vary by property and dates, so check their website for your exact needs. The rates can range from $135 to $525 at the E.B. Morgan House; other properties vary more.
Dining Options: There’s a communal fridge, as well as the wine and cheese hour, and the small breakfast; but if you’re looking for something more substantial, the 1833 Kitchen & Bar, Fargo Bar & Grill and Village Market are all within walking distance.
We had a light dinner, as well as breakfast, at the 1833 Kitchen & Bar. The dinner was fabulous- a fully loaded charcuterie featuring a mix of local delights of meat and cheese, and a salmon mousse with caviar that was just divine. Our breakfast was a spinach and feta omelet (OMG so good), and a breakfast burrito. Both meals were delicious, and I loved the attention to detail in the plating. I would have shared our breakfast as well, but I ate it right up so there wasn’t time to take a photo… next time I promise.
- Full access to butler’s pantry for dining and glassware
- Air conditioning, fireplace
- Broadband Internet, TV (Cable)
- Hair dryer, towel-set, bathrobes, amazing smelling soaps and shampoos
- Full library of books, games, and DVDs
- Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards in the summer