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  • Steve Russo

Greenbriar Inn

The Gwendolen Suite at the Greenbriar Inn is the perfect place to kick back, relax and unplug for a while.

Whether you're traveling alone or in good company, across the globe or just a few hundred miles away, a sense of "home" is not something you typically expect to find along the way. Most hotels and B&Bs make you feel comfortable and content, but there's a big difference between feeling comfortable and feeling comforted. And that difference is what you can expect to experience at the Greenbriar Inn of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The innkeepers have so beautifully captured the essence of true hospitality. Here, it's a welcoming feeling that goes beyond stylish decor and amenities and lies within the intangibles that make travelers feel like guests, not customers. Whatever their secret ingredient is, it left me feeling comforted, cared for, and right at home.

But what brought me to this sweet little city in upstate Idaho in the first place? Well, naturally, its small-town charm. But I discovered Coeur d'Alene on a map a few years back, and I was immediately intrigued by its unique, French name. So, I got to googling and instantly knew that this was a place I'd connect with.

It looked like a little slice of North American heaven; the perfect place to spend my favorite holiday: the 4th of July. So that's just what I did. I got there the day before, and the festivities and fun had already begun. Sherman Avenue, Coeur d'Alene's Main Street, had a real bounce to it. Flags were flying, faces were smiling, ketchup and mustard were flowing, and beach chairs and umbrellas were in tow. The whole town was just bursting with American charisma, like a patriotic volcano ready to erupt. And I was in the thick of it, in my absolute glory.

I hopped around from shop to shop, smelling handmade soaps, tasting homemade ice cream and cones, just enjoying some good old-fashioned sidewalk strolling. Live music poured out from fairs on side streets, and folks from all over enjoyed dining al fresco while others wandered off the upbeat streets and down to the pristine, pebbled lakeshore. On the outskirts of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, there's no shortage of outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking, biking and picnicking on land to rafting, kayaking and fishing, out on the water. 

But for me, after an action-packed day downtown, nothing sounded better than heading back to my home away from home for the night. And lucky for me, it was just steps away from the center of town, on a quiet tree-lined street. I walked up to the warmly lit, brick building, then through the front door of what felt like the home of a dear friend who'd been expecting me. No need to knock, just come on in.

A charming foyer embellished with elegant finishes and antique fixtures drew me in. It somehow felt like a place of historical significance, and indeed it was.  In fact, the Greenbriar Inn is so deeply rooted in the town's history that it's been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This timeless landmark, also known as the Harvey Davey House, was constructed in 1908. And it was plain to see that so much of its original character had been preserved ever since.

As I moved across the room, admiring what may have once been a formal sitting room, staff members and guests were waiting to greet me with smiles, and warm, how ya doings. A kind woman, checked me in near the dining room, where a smorgasbord of delicious dinnertime smells was beginning to fill the air. A photographer snapped shots of decor and the dishes that were being carried out. And there was almost a, "we' re having company over for dinner tonight" feeling in the air. And I felt like I was arriving just in time. 

"Ok, let's show you to your room! This is a really special one. I think you'll love it," the kind redheaded woman said with a knowing smile. This was the first time I've ever been shown to my room. Similar to when I'm the houseguest of a friend, and they show me where I'll be sleeping, where my this and that will be, and what to do if I get hot or cold, this sweet hostess welcomed me in that same manner. "And over there you have your coffee maker, and here's a bucket in case you'd like ice…what else? Oh, and you're private terrace is just out this way. It's such a great place for people watching or just kicking back and relaxing...and it's all yours, no one else has access to it." I was floored. It was huge! A family of fifteen could've comfortably enjoyed a rockin' family game night for hours out there. And for the night, it was mine all mine.

"Let us know if you need anything. And if you get hungry, just come on down for dinner!" Her thoughtfulness and welcome-home attitude really added to the whole comforted feeling that can't be found just anywhere. And then she left me to explore my room and private wrap-around balcony, all on my own. I pulled the metal key from the doorknob, locked myself in, and immediately took a video of my room and ample outdoor space to send to my friends and family. That's one way you know a place is really special – when you can just hardly wait to share it with the world.

There were traces of beauty in every detail. And the room's modern comforts didn't impede on its unique, antique touches whatsoever. You could just feel that this room had a story to tell. So there I was, strolling around my private terrace, overlooking the lovely restaurant below, feeling like a female pharaoh atop her vintage, Americana, ivory tower. I listened to laughter and chatter below, admired the view of that peaceful, green street and felt oh-so lucky to be in Idaho on the eve of Independence Day.

After enjoying a delicious dinner on the patio, I returned to my spacious suite and private deck to take in the sunset. It was there that I realized that the things that made this place so enchanting weren't actually things. It was this all-embracing feeling of warmth and well-being. It was a sense of home and coziness; a kind of magic that can't be fully captured in these photos or even in the words that I write. It's the kind of place you just want to be a part of, "Where history meets hospitality" at the Greenbriar Inn.

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