Midwest Living Review
When John and Cathie Imes opened Arbor House on Madison's near-west side in 1993, the green movement was in its infancy and B&Bs were typically created in old Victorian mansions near city centers. Their inn had some history -- originally the 1853 Plough Inn, it was Madison's first building, a tavern-stagecoach stop. Sitting a few miles from downtown and across from Madison's 1,280-acre Arboretum turned out to be a good thing. No, you're not in the heart of downtown, but you're a close drive or bus ride away. And while the inn does sit on busy Monroe Street, that mostly means daytime traffic and none of the boisterous evening crowds you can get downtown or on campus. Yet you're within an easy walk of several places to nosh or imbibe, plus the arboretum and Lake Wingra, two of Madisonians' favorite playgrounds. To foster use of these resources, the inn provides bikes you can check out, plus a free canoe rental at nearby Lake Wingra. But back to the inn. It's comprised of eight rooms ($125-$230) spread between two buildings: the original 1853 inn and an annex the Imes' built, which is joined to the original via an arbor and patios. The rooms are comfy and posh, featuring amenities such as whirlpool tubs, Burt's Bees toiletries and private patios. The green features cover everything from low-flow devices to organic bedding and mattresses. Guests also have access to several living-dining areas, plus a sauna. There's free Wi-Fi throughout. An evening appetizer and wine hour, followed a few hours later by a dessert hour, gives you a taste of what the morning breakfast will be like. During the week, it's a Continental spread but weekends bring a full meal. The Arbor House has gathered a loyal following through the years, so if you're interested in staying there, book as soon as you can. It's worth the planning.