Looking for lodging near Coupeville or Langley? Here are three good places to rest your head.
This story originally appeared in The Seattle Times last spring. For up-to-date rates, check the inns’ websites.
WHIDBEY ISLAND — Walk the saltwater beach at Ebey’s Landing and look out to where the Olympic Peninsula stretches and sprawls across the horizon.
Dine on salty-sweet Penn Cove mussels, where they just don’t get any fresher.
If you go
Captain Whidbey Inn
Water-view rooms in the historic lodge $115-$187; two-night minimum may apply June-September. 2072 W. Captain Whidbey Inn Road, Coupeville. 800-366-4097 or captainwhidbey.com
Blue Goose Inn
Rooms $99-$209, depending on season; two-night minimum may apply in peak months. 702 N. Main St., Coupeville. 360-678-4284 or bluegooseinn.com
Studios and suites $150-$325, depending on season; two- or three-night minimum may apply in peak months. 200 Wharf St., Langley. 360-221-5120 or boatyardinn.com
Tour a noted rhododendron garden (Meerkerk), a Buddhist-inspired retreat center with a labyrinth and stone circles (Earth Sanctuary), or a state park with old battlements and one of the Salish Sea’s most picturesque lighthouses (Fort Casey).
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Such are the attractions of Whidbey Island, a favorite weekend getaway from Seattle or Bellevue. But how to choose from the island’s many lodging options? Here are three places we like:
Captain Whidbey Inn, Penn Cove
“It’s like a hobbit hotel!” I exclaimed as we climbed the narrow, elbow-squeezing stairway to our room on my first stay at this historic log lodge, built in 1907 from trees harvested here at the head of madrona-lined Penn Cove, near Coupeville.
Come for the history, the quaintness, the yesteryear charm. Don’t expect modern luxury, don’t take exception to overhearing snatches of a neighbor’s conversation, don’t fuss about the (clean, well-kept) bathrooms down the hall, and chances are you’ll love the Captain Whidbey.
There’s a more modern annex, the Lagoon Rooms, and some nice cabins, but for my money the 12 rooms upstairs in the original lodge, with floors slanting this way and that, are the reason to stay. Tip: Get a water-view room to enjoy lovely pink sunrises over the Cascades.
“It’s like staying in your grandma’s attic,” my wife said. “Is there a ghost? If not, they should make one up.”
“I’m sure I heard a creaking floorboard in the night,” I replied.
“But that was probably just me going down the hall to use the bathroom,” she responded.
A few modern conveniences (well, modern 60 years ago) have been added to the cozy, low-ceilinged rooms, so we did have our own baseboard heater with a little thumbwheel control that required getting on knees with a flashlight and a magnifying glass to adjust the temperature.
But don’t expect double-glazed windows; looking out through the wavy glass is like a lens into the early 20th century, helping you imagine women in elaborately plumed hats stepping down a gangplank onto the rickety dock.
And if some of the period furnishings are a bit threadbare or your room’s faded oil painting of Mount Baker is flaking at the edges, that’s just authenticity. Was Granny’s parlor perfect?
Coupeville lawyer Lester Carlos Still built the lodge, originally the Whid Isle Inn, as a summer resort for folks from Seattle and Tacoma in the days when the only way to get there was via the Mosquito Fleet of steam vessels that plied these inland waters. The lobby and dining room are still warmed by the original massive fireplaces, one of beach cobbles and the other of brick, with a common chimney.
Over the years, the building went through various uses as a general store, a post office and a girls’ school, but always returned to its use as an inn, ultimately named, like the island, after Joseph Whidbey, the sailing master who explored these waters with Capt. George Vancouver in the 1790s.
These days, a nicely turned-out continental breakfast — included with lodging — is served in the inn’s cozy old tavern, with low log beams, a 4-foot king salmon mounted over the window and a taxidermied bear’s head (named “Shannon”) above the gas-fired stove.
Bring bikes and ride the pleasantly winding and flat Madrona Way 3 miles along the water into Coupeville — or rent the inn’s cruiser bikes for $15 an hour.
Dinner in the inn’s restaurant was a hit-and-miss affair for us — in town, the Front Street Grill’s 10 recipes for Penn Cove mussels ought not to be missed — but a good find here was the Seafood Chowder, winner of the 2015 Penn Cove Mussel Fest chowder competition and featuring the famed mussels that are grown on more than 30 floats in the cove’s nutrient-rich waters.
Blue Goose Inn, Coupeville
Want some modern luxury with your historical inn?
This bed-and-breakfast occupies two neighboring Victorian homes — one blue and one hot-pink — both listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the center of historic Coupeville. The “pink lady,” as I call it, is an Italianate beauty, circa 1887, that would feel at home on the fanciest hillside in San Francisco.
The other house was built in 1891 as the home of James Gillespie and Keturah Coupe, daughter of Coupeville founder Capt. Thomas Coupe.
Here’s where to stay to be within easy walking distance of the town’s waterfront shops, bakery, restaurants and museum — and there’s even a self-guided walking tour of the town’s historic buildings (including the original law office of Judge Still, who built the Captain Whidbey Inn); print the tour guide here: coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com/photo-history.
The Blue Goose is for history fans who enjoy their modern creature comforts. While the “bones” of the homes are authentic, and novel amenities include claw-foot tubs and an antique double-basin barber’s sink imported from Seattle’s Olympic Hotel, rooms also feature amenities such as coffee makers, high-definition TVs and steam saunas.
But classic furnishings, 13-foot ceilings, wood floors — some with 28-foot (!) fir planks — and an 1897 Kimball pump organ keep you feeling like it’s time to hop in the horse-drawn buggy to go shopping for a new stovepipe hat.
Innkeepers David and Becky Broberg take breakfast seriously, with homemade condiments and jams, and special recipes such as Smoky Cheddar and Bacon Puffed Eggs or Poached Eggs and Creamy Poblano Sauce on Sweet Potato Pancakes.
“There’s never a mix in the house, everything is made from scratch,” David says.
Boatyard Inn, Langley
Here’s a choice if you like modern more than vintage.
On the island’s southern stretch, the town of Langley has a wide selection of lodging. Perhaps because I live on a sailboat, I liked the looks of the Boatyard Inn, just downhill from town, next to the town’s boatyard and small marina on the beach of Saratoga Passage.
Outside, the inn’s neo-industrial look blends in with the salty waterfront. Inside, I was won over when I first stepped into one of the waterfront studios to the view of a Popeye-looking character in a brightly painted rowboat setting crabpots right out front, with a backdrop of Camano Island and the snowy Cascades.
That, and the salmon-shaped pillow on the bed, and the abundance of lacquered pine trim around the room. A private deck with table and chairs for relaxing outside on a sunny sunset eve made it just about perfect.
All of the units feature gas fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, DVD players and efficiency kitchens with dining area.
And one of the best things is the town, reached by a short walk or drive up the hill. Langley is one of the Northwest’s more visitor-friendly little burgs, with an abundance of galleries, bookstores, boutiques and cafes, easily walkable in a few short blocks with street art and water views.
Near the waterfront is an old bronze bell that anybody is invited to ring if they spot a whale in the passage, and just up the street is the Orca Network’s Langley Whale Center, where you can learn all about gray whales and orca that frequent these waters.
Enjoy a round of wine tasting at Ott & Murphy’s waterfront tasting room, then take a good bottle back to your Boatyard Inn deck and keep your eye peeled for whales.
That’s a Whidbey Island getaway.