Ale House Inn : 121 Bow Street : Portsmouth, NH : 03801: (603)-431-7760
Walking into The Ale House Inn is like being introduced to the most handsome man, EVER. You know the type. So good looking you can’t help but stare. So good looking that you can’t help but admit it, even if you are lesbian, like myself. The rugged but soft around the edges type.
Imagine an extremely good looking nautical man. Blue & white stripe boat shirt. Navy Pea coat. Five o’clock shadow. Basically wearing anything from a boutique like Rogues Gallery. The type of man that could, say, fix a boat, but appreciate art. Kick back a few beers but appreciate a fine wine. Read a good book but save a cat from a 50 story building. Yes, Imagine THAT man – then imagine that man was an urban, boutique inn located in the seaside town of Portsmouth, NH and you have — Ale House Inn.
It was love at first site with me and this handsome inn, housed in the historic Portsmouth Brewing Company building (c. 1880).
The first thing I thought to myself was, “Who is the designer and please let him come decorate my place!?” My mouth went dry, like on a first date. I shoved two pieces of gum in my mouth, one may have even had the wrapper on it, who knows and who cares! I was in love and I needed saliva!
I was overtaken by how handsome everything was and the loft-like feel the inn had. Sure, I could use words like pretty & beautiful too since the inn has a soft, masculine feel, but handsome sums up the overall feel of Ale House Inn (and after meeting inn manager, Scott, handsome is definitely my word of choice.)
I love the colors used throughout the property. Ice blue, deep purple, gray, white, brown, yellow, orange, green. These colors all compliment the wood floor and brick walls.
The inn has a modern, nautical, vibe. You can tell it is a labor of love (and damn good fashion sense!)
The log inspired, gas fireplace and nautical rope is the focal point in the lobby. Next, your eyes can’t help but look up at the whimsical antler chandelier hanging high above, adding an almost rustic vibe to this urban inn. LOOOOOOVE IT!
Next, my eyes dotted to the bright orange “house phone” and Mac computer that is available for guest use. It was at this point I wanted to hug the owners/designers and say, “GENIOUS!”
Melanie and I took our time appreciating every little thing. The framed, old map of Maine. The designer books. The old, antique bottles and vintage brochures. There was an abundance of free snacks available to guests, too! Apples, bananas, clementines, and a variety of chips
After such a great preview of the lobby, we were looking forward to opening the door to our room, Room # 3. When we opened the door, we both looked at each other, smiled, and said, “No way, wow!” AGAIN, the word that comes to mind is handsome, but the room was definitely in touch with its feminine side. Two thumbs up, well four, counting Melanie’s!
We first noticed the color scheme. We loved the ice blue/gray curtains, the fashionable peacock comforter and soft, moody, art.
I also loved how splashes of color were used. A yellow reading lamp head. A green bamboo plant. The snow white, eco-friendly, Vizio flat screen TV. The stainless steel Keurig coffee maker. I also appreciated having a mini fridge, soft lighting and be still my heart, is that an iPad? You bet it is! Each of the 10 rooms at the inn has an iPad for your use. But it wasn’t just the iPad that excited me, it was the way it was placed on top of three, yellow1001 Books. It. Just. Looked. Cool. Plain and simple.
The room had an array of necessary items such as a hair dryer, iron, ironing board, umbrella and fan behind a gray blue curtain closet door. Nice utilization of space! The bed, a Serta Presidential Suite Euro Top King or Queen, was truly out-of-this-world-comfortable, as were the pillows…a nice mix of firm and marshmallow soft. The lights’ brightness was adjustable, providing a more relaxing or awake ambiance when desired. There was a digital thermostat (A/C is central and windows open). Everything was extremely comfortable! It felt like a real bedroom – vs – a standard hotel room.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fabulous bathroom! It was sleek & sexy with its modern fixtures, wood design tile (a aesthetically pleasing yet practical touch) and Aveda skin & haircare products.
Being someone who gets (overly) excited about the smallest of details, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the navy blue, face towel that read MAKEUP…nice t
Also, the shower had great water pressure. Always appreciated!
Good To Know: Beside use of the iPad and free snacks in lobby, each room comes with two complimentary bottles of water. The TV has 180 channels. There is an iPod docking station. Free parking for one car in the church parking lot across the street. Free use of bicycles downstairs and free Wi-Fi. Also, if you aren’t familiar with the area, talk to Scott, the manager. He knows all the hot spots to visit! Heck, even if you are familiar with the area, talk to Scott! He is a sweetheart!
One other thing I thought was very stylish was the use of real keys and their anchor key chain (their official logo). None of those flimsy, card keys given at your standard hotel. The small touches here make a big impact.
Location: The Ale House Inn is centrally located in the Market Square district. They are surrounded by shops, restaurants, cafes and historic sites. The afternoon Melanie and I arrived was gray & misty, adding to the nautical feel of this seaport town. I half expected to hear a ship’s foghorn in the distance.
The walk to Market Street is less than 5 minutes from the hotel. Also notable was the proximity to a.) the water; and b.) Maine! You could literally walk to Maine from the inn. We walked down to the dock to check out the tugboats and could see the bridge to Maine nearby.
You pass many shops and restaurants, including the newly opened River House, that has scenic, waterfront dining. This would be a great place during the warmer months when you could sit outside and take in the sights!
We noticed how “eco-friendly” and “green” the city of Portsmouth felt. We loved the “earthy” vibe. The cobblestone streets, gaslamps, brightly colored stores, historic brick buildings and nautical vibe reminded me of Savannah, GA, especially their Riverfront area.
Gay & Lesbian factor: Portsmouth seemed to have a very open minded, young, smart crowd. As with most New England cities, the gay & lesbian lifestyle is highly accepted and supported.
I’ve heard that The Red Door Lounge & Martini Bar has a good mix of gay & straight people and is a safe, fun place to gather.
Melanie and I felt very comfortable holding hands as we walked the city. Although there aren’t many gay exclusive bars/clubs in the area, Ogunquit, Maine, is less than 30 minutes from Portsmouth and one of the top gay & lesbian beach destinations in New England.
Dining: At the recommendation of Scott, Mel and I decided to have dinner at Portsmouth Brewery.
This hopping brewpub was the perfect choice. The vibe and decor was lively & fun, but the greatest entertainment was watching Melanie PRETEND to like the beer (aptly named, a’hem, ‘dirty blonde’…just sayin….inside joke).
She later admitted the beer tasted like “feet, piss and fruit.” Enough said….lol. Sigh. No. Unfortunately we aren’t beer drinkers and I do truly mean, unfortunately, since there are so many cool sounding types. Oh well. Now if that was wine she was drinking…
We ordered usual pub food. Chicken tenders, fries and nachos and for desert — indigestion. The food was actually pretty good. We ended up bringing a good portion of it back to the room and sleepwalk munching in the wee hours.
We continued our walk past Market Square and window shopped since many of the stores closed at 5pm. We decided to head back to the inn and enjoy the plush accommodations.
For breakfast the next morning, we swung by The Friendly Toast. This kitschy, retro, restaurant has been voted “one of the best breakfasts in America” by Esquire Magazine, and I can tell why.
Having been to their Cambridge, MA location, I can honestly say the Portsmouth location is WAY cooler.
The decor is wild. It is like a Sci-Fi, antique loving, estate sale going, one-of-a-kind collecting, funhouse enthusiest, B rated movie lover’s dream. It is retro with an almost punk-rock-Ramones-meets the Brady Bunch vibe.
Flashy decor aside, the food is AMAZING. I ordered buttermilk pancakes and homefries and Melanie ordered granola with fresh fruit.
We both made xxx sounds while eating the homefries. They were thinly sliced with just the right amount of crispness and a unique spice that made your mouth pleasantly burn after each bite. The pancakes were flying-saucer, huge! One would be enough. I ordered two, unaware of the size. Melanie’s granola and fruit bowl looked extremely fresh and from the look on her face, it tasted good too.
Overall, I would say that Portsmouth is one of my favorite New England towns. It is definitely a place I would visit again, and Ale House Inn is a place I would happily call home.
I am officially “OUTING” Ale House Inn as Gay & Lesbian friendly and worthy of our business!