Sunday, September 24, 2006

Review: The Murphin Ridge Inn

Laura and I spent our anniversary at the Murphin Ridge Inn in southwestern Ohio. Our long weekend was completely enjoyable, made more so by the wonderful bed-and-breakfast Laura found for us. Darryl and Sherry, the owners, were great hosts, friendly and attentive and clearly enjoying what they do. As an added bonus, they didn't grouse at all about our mild quirkiness -- like me showing up at closing time asking if they had any honey I could take back to our cabin, or the fact that we always split an entree, or our strange off-menu requests, or the fact that we drink a lot of tea.

We were in one of the newer cabins (the Celebration Cabin), and it was a perfect spot for a getaway. Too many B&Bs have ornate, lavishly decorated rooms crammed with pouf and chintz and uncomfortable antique furniture. The Murphin Ridge Inn cabins are comfortable, spacious, and almost undecorated. No art graces the walls, no strange antiquities fill the corners. And, as a special touch, the cabins don't have televisions. It's a simple, friendly place to spend a few days.

I don't want to make the cabins sound spartan; they're luxurious. But it's a practical luxury, not given to ornamentation. The cabins all have gas fireplaces and two-person hot tubs, the beds are comfortable, and terry-cloth robes wait for you in the armoire. The in-room coffee is decent (the coffee in the dining room is excellent), and the coffee maker has a timer so you can wake up to hot coffee. The lights are on dimmers, and the shower has a huge rainfall shower head. The chairs on the front and back porch are comfortable for long stretches of loafing, and the back porch manages to be both open and private. They paid much attention to the important stuff that makes a place nice, and paid no attention whatsoever to the ostentatious ornamentation that, for tasteless people, define luxury. I respect that.

We ate all of our meals at the Inn. The breakfasts were yummy and the portion size was perfect. Friday morning's pancakes with fresh, chunky apple sauce were so good I had to inquire about the recipe. The breakfasts are accompanied by fresh fruit, homemade breads (our three days featured biscuits, baked cinnamon toast, and whole-grain wheat toast), homemade granola, and fresh-squeezed juices. The boxed lunches were a perfect size to split between the two of us, and they threw in an extra apple and beverage. The sandwiches, thick and meaty on homemade bread, reminded me of the signature sandwiches at the now-closed Brother Juniper's in downtown Indy. Dinners were likewise enjoyable. The menu was somewhat more limited than a traditional restaurant -- chicken scallopine, pork chops, New York strip steak, vegetarian ravioli, a fish of the day, and a shrimp dish -- but everything we tried was excellent. The desserts were great, and the apple crisp is one of the best I've ever had.

The walk from our cabin to the Inn took us next to the fire pit. It sits in the middle of a clearing, and every night, even in the rain, Darryl made sure a fire was blazing. We spent at least a few minutes every night sitting around the fire chatting with our fellow guests. On a clear night, you can lean back and see a million stars stretching across the sky. I didn't realize Laura had never seen the Milky Way before; I'm glad I got to share it with her.

The Inn sits on a large plot of land and has its own hiking trails. In a clearing a few hundred yards through the woods from our cabin is Stonehedge (picture Stonehenge, at 1/20 scale), which we thought was hilarious. Even more so, when we found out the owners have never seen This Is Spinal Tap. We did a lot of walking on Thursday, which worked out well; it rained all day Friday and Saturday. The rain wasn't bad, though. It inspired us to stay inside (or on the porch) a lot and spend some nice, relaxing quiet time together.

Two of my favorite things at Murphin Ridge were Red Dog and Chester the cat. Red Dog is the Inn's adopted dog. He was fun, but a little antisocial; he liked women a lot more than men. Chester and the other cats have apparently been a problem. The cabin doors have signs warning guests not to feed the cats or let them inside. The signs describe them as a "manipulative barn cats", who "lack inside manners". I'm guessing they are referring to other cats, because Chester is an absolute sweetheart. She arrived damaged at the inn a few months ago in the engine compartment of a car, but has since healed and is walking fine. She spent a few hours Saturday curled up in my lap napping while I read a book on the porch. She's very cute and purry, and she seemed pretty friendly. She was very good company on a rainy day.

So, in short: if you're looking for a relaxing, romantic getaway, it's worth the drive to the Murphin Ridge Inn in Ohio. You'll be glad you stayed; we are!

UPDATE: The honey was for our tea. Really.


Ted S. said...

Anniversary trip.
Secluded cabin.
What was that honey for, I wonder? :P

Jennifer B., Round Rock, TX said...

mmm - what a wonderful getaway. That sounds like something Jay and I did one year for V-Day. We got a cabin on an exotic animal (rescue) ranch west of Austin in Fredericksburg. No tv, but very comfortable setting, and nice and private. We were give our own gate code to come and go from the property, and we visited with ring-tailed lemurs, springbucks, and miniature donkeys. It was a lovely getaway, and I hope to someday do it again.

I'm glad to hear you had a good weekend away. You're both good for each other ;)

laura the wife said...

yummy times and yummy memories...i have the universe's most wonderful friend and husband