We recently did an "update shoot" for one of our favorite inns, the grand Saratoga Arms, in downtown in Saratoga Springs, NY. Innkeepers and Owners of this family-run business, Amy and Kathleen Smith, have made some really smart updates to this property, carefully blending the traditional style with an updated new look. Because we've been shooting for them for years, we have some interesting before and after shots showing the decor changes. Instead of tearing out all of the classic (and pricey!) wallpaper and discarding great-quality furnishings, they made more modest changes that make a huge impact---all without breaking the budget. The big changes they DID make: * They eliminated many large armoires  which had previously held televisions, replacing them with contemporary wood pieces with a dual function: they contain a refrigerator and provide ample clothing storage (with a great top surface to boot!) * Wall mounted flat screen TVs throughout * They chose View / Edit Comments

We've always wanted to go to Chile, so we blocked some time off in November to fly down and explore the country. November is spring in Chile and that was welcome, coming from the November gloom of Philadelphia. We really only explored the bottom half of Chile, but that was a 2000 mile chunk of this long (REALLY LONG) skinny country sandwiched between Argentina and the Pacific Ocean. We fell completely in love with one hotel in particular, really a country inn style accommodation on a point in Lake Villarrica,  called Hotel Antumalal, near the town of Pucon, which is about 500 miles south of Santiago. We chose to fly because it was a 14 hour drive! Here is a quote from the hotel's website describing the property: "On a wooded point overlooking the lake, between gardens, terraces and waterfalls sits the Hotel Antumalal. Meaning "Corral of the Sun" in the 1 Comment »

1) Bed and Breakfast...and COFFEE! We've always thought coffee represented "low-hanging fruit"--easy to improve upon and impress guests at inns (and hotels for that matter). It's obviously a big part of our culture (especially among young people), so WHY is the coffee so completely boring at 99% of the inns we visit? Sadly, the quality is so poor we often secretly bring our own. Typically, we've found the  quality of the coffee and brewing techniques deteriorate the further you move away from The Pacific Northwest or New England. Generally speaking, the coffee in the South is the weakest and least interesting. (Who are we--the coffee gods?) During our shoot in December of 2013, it was great to see what Joe Finnegan and his team at St Francis Inn in St Augustine have "brewed up". They offer delicious cappuccino and espresso to guests, using their sparkling new cappuccino/espresso machine--a serious machine which 4 Comments »

On the first day of winter this year, we made our very favorite winter dish, in honor of Judy Rodgers, the chef at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe who passed away early this month. Judy was a fantastic chef and cookbook author and we were so sorry to hear of her death. We're fortunate to have been to her restaurant in San Francisco several times and our copy of  "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook", published in 2002, is in tatters from use. This Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken is a real winner. It's a dry 24 hour salt-brined small bird cooked in a high-heat oven served atop a crunchy bread salad with greens, currants and pine nuts. Matthew has made this dish so many times he can do it with eyes closed. Please note that we like to add cauliflower to the mix--it's optional.       Zuni Cafe Chicken Adapted from Judy Rodgers by Eric Asimov of The View / Edit Comments

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. Well, they're right! The facade of The Victorian Inn in Los Alamos (just an hour north of Santa Barbara) screams "quintessential Victorian Bed and Breakfast". But step inside, and that whole idea vanishes instantly. "The Vick" (as it's known to its fans) is about as far from Victorian as you can get. It is completely--and dramatically--themed inside, from top to bottom. We recently had the pleasure of photographing each of the six themed suites and it was fun, interesting and...wonderfully bizarre! Who can say they have photographed a full-size gypsy wagon INSIDE a guestroom, which, incidentally, is also the bed you sleep in? If sleeping in a Roman chariot is more your style, request the Roman Suite. It's all about fantasy here--from Ancient Egypt to a Parisian Artist' loft, you can live out your fantasy at The Vick.    

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One of our favorite things about late summer is great tomatoes, and especially the heirloom varieties that are packed with flavor and sweetness. Last week we were shooting at Swiss Woods Bed and Breakfast Inn in Lititz, PA in the heart of Pennsylvania's Amish country. Innkeeper Deb Mosimann  is famous for the breakfast she serves at Swiss Woods; it's always homemade, fresh and utilizes the incredible local ingredients of Lancaster Country. On this visit, we photographed  "Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes"...it's not a complicated dish, but PERFECT this time of year and it's appropriate for breakfast OR dinner. Oh--it's also beautiful! Deb is also a broad. That is, she's a member of the of the influential food-blogging collective known as Eight Broads in the Kitchen. They have hundreds of great recipes online--check them out.     Parmesan Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Swiss Woods 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, red and yellow 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese cracked black 1 Comment »

The mountaintop locale of The Swag Inn near Waynesville, NC is studded with the waterfalls and water features you'd expect in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But now, after a long hike in the adjacent park, you can enjoy your OWN waterfall, in one of their many private en-suite outdoor showers. We've just returned from our 6th trip shooting for The Swag, and every time we return they have added ANOTHER outdoor shower. We love the trend! There is something  both primeval and very romantic about the whole experience of an outdoor shower. We decided to highlight some of our favorite showers we've shot over the years. At the end of this post, we have supplied a little "behind the scenes" information on how we got these shots, i.e. how we lit them. It can be a little tricky! Want to see more pictures of The Swag? Check our special 1 Comment »

We've been in this crazy business for 8 years, and every now and then we discover a new inn we've never heard of---and we think HOW is this inn not universally known??? We recently had this experience shooting the spectacular Inn at Abeja in Walla Walla, Washington. In our pre-production meeting with the owners and innkeepers, they kept repeating "it's all about the details here". We hear that all the time...and frankly it's become a bit of a cliche. At Abeja, though, it rings true. The inn is full of one-of-a-kind textures, surfaces, architectural elements, whimsical features, and sensitive touches. Everything at this beautifully-restored farm is steeped in love, care and thoughtfulness. Innkeepers and owners Ken and Ginger Harrison, partner Molly Galt and chef/innkeeper Mary Besbris are a great team; they offer hospitality and food to match this premium property and its gorgeous setting in the beautiful Palouse Hills of 1 Comment »

We just completed a "southern swing" through Virginia and North Carolina, to shoot primarily for clients we've shot for before. It could not have been a more beautiful time to travel through that area, as a long-awaited spring was just beginning. It was a blast to see what  our old friends were up to--lots of new construction, renovation and redecoration. We have always believed that these types of changes, while disruptive and costly at times, are key to keeping your inn fresh and alive. Past guests are re-energized and excited to return to see the improvements. These changes often create buzz, garner press, and get more new guests to come and stay. We think it's really worth it, and the numbers almost always bear this out. First on our trip was Middleton Inn in Washington , VA. We shot this inn about 6 years ago and this was a follow up. Comments Off

Recently we had the opportunity to photograph the new cabins at Iris Inn in Virginia, a 12-acre retreat overlooking the Shenandoah Valley between Staunton and Charlottesville. We had heard these new accommodations were modern, well-appointed and perfectly sited. They are all that and more...much, much more! Each cabin (somehow that word just does not do these gorgeous accommodations justice) is practically all glass, with floor to ceiling views of either the forest, the valley, or both. They have full kitchens, fireplaces, hot tubs, heated floors, and fantastic screened in porches cantilevered over the hillside. The bathrooms are super-sleek and are outfitted with a tiled shower which is adjacent to a sliding glass door with direct access to the porch--essentially an outdoor shower. And nothing seems more luxurious than showering while looking out over the treetops. Owners Dan and Heidi are calling them "adult tree houses", which is a pretty apt 2 Comments »