Friday, August 23, 2013

Bernadine's Stillman Inn- Galena, Illinois - Destination Review

Need someplace fabulous to spend your next anniversary, birthday, or just a place to get away for a few days?  Well, I have the perfect place for you!

My husband and I just celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary.  We'll actually be celebrating 11 total years together next month on September 7th.  Since we've been together so long, we've gone to so many places together, stayed at a lot of hotels, Inns and B&Bs.  This year, we wanted to go somewhere we've never been.  And actually, it ended up being someplace pretty close to home.  We decided to venture to Galena, Illinois!  Its beautiful, has so much history, so many fun things to do and its only about an hour and a half from our home.

We did some searching for the perfect place to stay.  Over the last several years, we've discovered that we enjoy staying at smaller places like Inns and bed and breakfasts much better than hotels.  We came across a website for Bernadine's Stillman Inn.  

We were so impressed by their website and photos that we decided to give it a shot.  And we are so glad we did!

Bernadine's Stillman Inn is a luxurious, award winning bed and breakfast located just a short walk from the heart and center of Galena.  Their website and photos of the Inn do not do it justice!  It is far more beautiful in person than either of us expected!

 The owners and Innkeepers, Dave and Bernadine, are fabulous!  We met Dave as soon as we walked through the door.  He met us with a welcoming handshake and invited us to have a seat at the dining table in their large, formal dining room.  We felt welcomed like old friends from the moment we entered the door. 

The first thing Dave did, was present us with a map and all of his recommendations for activities, places to see, places to shop and eat and directions for how to get there.  We never once had to ask anyone else where to go.  He offered us coffee, a glass of wine or any other beverage we had in mind when we sat down.  They also had a platter of homemade treats on the table as well as endless fruit and cookies on the counter along with a fridge with wine and a microwave and popcorn that we were welcome to have and use any time during our stay. 

And did I mention the ice cream?  Well, they happen to have a freezer on the first floor filled with ice and ice cream bars.  You can satisfy your sweet tooth anytime day or night!

The grounds are magnificent!  As you pull up to the mansion, you are greeted by a large beautiful brick walkway, illuminated water fountain, benches to sit and enjoy the sunshine and flowers everywhere.  

The front porch is relaxing in the afternoon sunshine.  There is a bench to swing on and rocking chairs to sit and enjoy a good book and watch the birds while catching a nice summer breeze.

There is a great view of the front garden, fountain and surrounding scenery from the porch as well!

On the south side of the grounds you'll find another garden, fountain and patio area with beautiful seating to sit and enjoy a glass of wine in the evening or to sit and take in some fresh air and enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

One thing that Dave was so very adamant about, is that fact that he is always available if you need him.  In the front entryway, there is a comfy wing back chair and desk with a phone and Dave's cellphone number in case any guest needs anything.

Dave made sure we knew that we were welcome to call if we needed anything day or night.

 Our room was gorgeous and so comfortable!  The whole house has a calming and relaxing atmosphere and so did our room.  The bed was so soft and we both slept great!  We actually lied down to watch a movie and fell asleep before it even started!  

Bernadine's Stillman Inn also has a bookcase full of movies that guests are able to borrow and watch in their rooms during their stay!

The rooms all have private bathrooms with shower, toilet, sink and vanity and some of the rooms even have large jet tubs in the rooms!  

The rooms have soft and very comfortable embroidered robes for guests to wear in their rooms.  My husband happened to notice that the bath towels in our bathroom were surprisingly thick, soft and fluffy.  He said to me, "I've never felt hotel towels this soft before."  Well honey, its a good thing we stayed at an Inn and not a hotel!

Our room had a hairdryer so I didn't have to pack mine.  Our room also had a coffee maker along with unlimited coffee and tea in the dining room downstairs that we were welcome to help ourselves to.  

Our room had a comfortable chair and ottoman to relax in, a quaint little table and chairs and a flat screen TV and DVD player.  

The architecture inside Bernadine's Stillmann Inn is just amazing, with its winding staircase, beautiful color scheme and antique decor. 

Breakfast was absolutely delicious!  The guests met downstairs in the stunning dining room for breakfast.  Dave took our orders and served everyone a wonderful meal!

Our glasses never ran dry of water, orange juice and coffee.  

We were served our choice of ham and cheese omelets or scrambled eggs, bacon or sausages, fresh cut fruit, homemade banana bread topped with sweet fruit filling,  choice of toast and yogurt.  It was such a tasty breakfast and everything was made fresh to order!  Neither of us were hungry again until dinner time!

There is also a lovely seating area in the dining room for guests to enjoy.

Bernadine's Stillman Inn is also home of the Galena Wedding Chapel and Reception Hall which resides in the mansion's restored carriage house.  

My curiosity was killing me so Dave gave us the tour.  I think I have the perfect place in mind, in case my husband and I ever decide to have a vow renewal ceremony!  It was so beautiful and with such old time character.  It was small and cozy for an intimate ceremony of friends and family.  

The reception hall features a beautiful hand crafted bar that Dave had custom built for the venue.  The vanities in the rooms were also built by Dave as well. 

The Stillman Inn has had over 27,000 guests since Dave and Bernadine bought it about 13 years ago.  And they've put around $750,000 into renovating and restoring the Stillman Inn.  The wonderful thing about it, is the fact that they made so much effort to restore the Inn to an updated version of what The Stillman Inn would have been like back when it was first built.  They've given it a modern touch but kept the elegant feel of the 1800s intact for guests to enjoy.  We loved that about the Inn!

The view of Bernadine's Stillman Inn at night is breathtaking!  The glow of the porch lighting and the widow's watch was lovely and inviting.

Here is a little history of Dave and Bernadine.   Dave and Bernadine have been the owners of the Stillman Inn since May of 2000.  Before owning the Inn, Dave was a remodeling contractor in Gurnee, Illinois where he and Bernadine had lived with their family at the time.  They both had discussed their dream of running a bed and breakfast in Galena but had planned to wait another 10 years before pursuing this.  But to their fantastic luck, a good friend told them that the Stillman Inn was available for purchase.  It needed a lot of work but thanks to Dave's talents in remodeling and construction, they knew this would be the perfect place for them.  We were not fortunate enough to meet Bernadine during our stay, but hope to make her acquaintance during our next visit.  Dave is fantastic and did everything he could to make sure every guest felt right at home!

And for a little bit of history about the Stillman Inn, it was built in 1858 and only took 2 years to complete its construction.  The Stillman family originally came to Galena in the mid 1800s.  Because at that time, business in Galena was beginning to grow, Mr. Stillman opened an emporium on Main Street and was very successful. At that time, Galena was booming and was actually larger and more bustling than Chicago, and was home to around 15,000 people during the mid to late 1800s. The Stillman Inn has over 6,700 sq. ft. of functional living space with 3 innkeepers rooms, a basement, parlor, 7 guestrooms, 12 bathrooms and 11 fireplaces in all.

During the 25 years that the Stillman family was living in the mansion, they spent much of their time entertaining guests, some of which are rumored to have been President Grant's Generals and even President Grant himself.  A great site to see while in Galena is President Grant's house, which is about a 2 minute walk down the road from Bernadine's Stillman Inn.

 Since the Stillman family resided in the mansion, it has functioned as a rental home for many families and tenants, an assisted living home, a banquet hall and inn and now the fabulous and luxurious Bernadine's Stillman Inn.  Dave and Bernadine have invested a great deal in the mansion, restoring and upgrading as much as they can.  They are always working on some sort on improvement on the property.

My husband and I both had a spectacular time during our stay at Bernadine's Stillman Inn and we'll definitely be returning for another visit.  We hear the Inn is beautiful during the holidays!

So, would I recommend Bernadine's Stillman Inn?
"Inn" a heartbeat!

Visit their website and check out their fantastic and very reasonable room rates and book your stay!  You can also connect with Bernadine's Stillman Inn on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, read their blog and follow them on YouTube!  

You'll be glad you did! 

For more reviews and testimonials, check out Tripadvisor and Yelp!

I was provided with a complimentary stay to facilitate this review.  I was not compensated for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my true and honest opinions!


  1. I live in Indiana so this is not too far away. I would love to spend a weekend here. So beautiful. Bookmarked their site for future reference. Thank you for the review.

  2. I love the bathrooms (and pretty much everything else). That is my dream house! Love it!

  3. The ice cream is what would have sold me. I'm a sucker for ice cream. ;-)

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