I’ll call this place La Belle Beelzebub, out of consideration for the management’s gesture of refunding 20% of our room charge after the mishaps described below.
The place looked lovely from the picture: two nineteenth-century houses tastefully restored and outfitted with elegant furniture and fixtures. We arrived at the Napa b&b in the afternoon and were shown to our room.
A brief online mention of the houses stated that the b&b houses were built in the 1890s, but the piece didn’t mention the architect.
“Who designed these houses?” I inquired of the lady who was showing us to our room. I’m interested in California architects, and might have recognized the name of the designer.
“I don’t know,” she replied.
She then showed us our room in the second building, across the street from the main house. The room had an inviting-looking electric fireplace.
“How do we turn this on?” my wife asked. The young lady looked around for a bit, then said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask and get back to you.”
She never did.
This was an unfortunate situation, since there was a note pinned to the wall over the thermostat in the room:
Do not turn this unit to under 72 degrees or it will freeze up.
As the night went on and the room temperature dropped into the low 60s, therefore, there was nothing we could do to heat the room.
Once settled in, though, we were delighted to find that they management had provided a small complementary decanter of port wine on one of the tables. So we poured two glasses and raised them to a toast.
Ugh — the wine had turned sour — gone bad quite some time ago, it seemed to me.
“Let’s go up on the second-story balcony and check out the view, “ I suggested. The view was extensive, and there was even an outdoor heater which might have kept us warm. Unfortunately, the heater wires had been ripped out and were dangling uselessly from the wall.
We didn’t stay long on the balcony anyway, since it primarily offered an intimate view of a huge pile of trash adjacent to the backyard garden.
So we went back down to the bedroom, piling the blankets on the lovely four-poster bed in the vain hope of staying warm through the night.
“Well,” I thought when we emerged shivering from the bed in the morning, “now I can finally warm up with a nice shower.”
Wrong again: no hot water.
So we dressed in the room’s cold air, looking wistfully at the non-functioning fireplace.
“You go on over to the main house and get us a table for breakfast,” my wife urged me. “I’ll be along in a few minutes.”
The main dining area was quite elegant. It was also completely full except for two places — not at the same table.
I was mulling over how to deal with the situation — it would, after all, have been nice to enjoy breakfast sitting with my wife and not with complete strangers — when I heard the wail of sirens. Two fire trucks pulled up outside the house where we were staying: an incredibly loud smoke alarm was howling away, and my wife was hurrying out the door with our suitcases.
It turned out that, evidently, someone was smoking in the room above us, and the fumes set off the fire alarm.
After things settled down, the innkeeper in charge of the b&b came over to make sure everything was all right.
“By the way,” I said to her, “we never did hear from the young lady last night how to turn on this electric furnace.”
The innkeeper puttered around, then announced. “I can’t figure it out. I’ll have to ask the owner.”
Bags finally packed into the car, I went back to the main house and asked the innkeeper:
“We never found out the name of the architect who build this house. Can you tell us?”
“It’s written down somewhere, but I don’t know where the paper is,” she replied.
So we left the Beelzebub b&b, never to return (at least in this lifetime).