Home away from home

Beachside Bed & Breakfast on Folly offers guests a laid-back environment within walking distance of the beach, restaurants and shops.

The constant stream of guests at Peter and Linda Shelbourne’s house is not a new phenomenon. Thanks to visits from family, friends and fellow church members over the years, someone always has been arriving or departing.

Guests would come to dine with the Shelbourne’s and somehow, still be at their home a week or even a month later, Linda Shelbourne says.

“The beds just never cooled down.”

Today, Shelbourne and her husband have operated Linwood Bed & Breakfast at their historic Summerville home for nearly 20 years.

Bed and breakfasts, especially those in the Lowcountry, are typically located in unique homes as well as in residential areas. They attract many travelers seeking “a home away from home.”

Additionally, owners often manage their establishments and interact with guests on a personal level.

South Carolina Bed and Breakfast Association includes 13 area establishments and the Charleston Bed and Breakfast Association includes 13.

At the Linwood Bed & Breakfast, the Shelbourne’s have welcomed some of their guests many times. They include ones from Ireland who recently left after their 17th annual visit.

The couple lives in a Victorian mansion built in 1883 by Julia Drayton Hastie, daughter of the Rev. John Grimke Drayton of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The house and three cottages sit on nearly two-acres of award-winning gardens, both formal and romantic styles.

“We have a heart for hospitality,” Shelbourne says. “It’s our desire to make someone comfortable. A heart for hospitality comes from the Lord.”

Opportunities to relax, retreat and rejuvenate in Linwood’s mansion suites, outbuildings and numerous garden rooms prompted guests to vote it among the top 10 Garden Inns by bedandbreakfast.com for 2013.

“We’re not a hotel, we’re an experience,” says Shelbourne, also a Clemson certified Master Gardener. She works in the many garden rooms at Linwood about two days each week. Every third Friday, she shares them with visitors who take Summerville’s Sweet Tea Trail tour.

Guests can move from garden room to garden room and be delighted at the different textures and colors in each, Shelbourne says.

While there is a formal garden in front of the house, most are gardens in the romantic tradition, ones designed to look as if they have not been carefully tended.

Bushes in a variety of textures, shades and shapes with the deep roots necessary to survive in Summerville, colder in winter and hotter in summer than Charleston, cover the place.

They include acuba, arborvitae, azaleas, boxwood, camellias, coleus, fatsia, holly, lirope, palmettos, pittosporum, sasanqua, sego, wisteria and yucca.

There is no better place than Summerville, known as a health and recreation haven since the 1600s, to operate a bed and breakfast, she says.

The primary reason people visit bed and breakfasts is they want personal relationships with those they encounter, Shelbourne says. It’s a product of the busy lifestyles so prevalent today.

“One of the greatest joys we get is when we hear guests interacting,” Shelbourne says. Guests sometimes spend hours sitting around the breakfast table getting to know each other.

It’s flip-flops, shorts and T-shirt optional at the Beachside Bed & Breakfast on Folly, says Michael Riffert, co-owner with wife Christy Richardson. The business was born after they bought a little cottage on Folly they had feared would be torn down.

When they moved their $2,000 purchase to a space behind their home, it dawned on them that using it and a second house already there for a bed and breakfast might cover their mortgage.

That was five years ago, and the relaxed bed and breakfast that they opened is going strong, says Riffert.

“We have a small four-bed-and-bath B&B with themed rooms,” he says. There is a Costa Rican Bungalow (the cottage) and three rooms decorated in “shabby chic,” “1970s” and “tree house” styles in the second house.

Guests love the “fun, funky and eclectic nature” of the bed and breakfast, Riffert says.

“We started out doing continental breakfasts. Now, we do a Southern breakfast with bacon and eggs and muffins and occasionally shrimp and grits.”

A few years ago, guests who said they were with Travel and Leisure magazine spent three nights in the Costa Rican bungalow.

The Riffert’s were surprised when the visit resulted in the bed and breakfast being named among 40 selected as the “Best Affordable Beach Resorts” by the magazine in 2010.

“Travel and Leisure talked about us on the ‘Today Show,’ ” Riffert says.

“We don’t advertise. We are on the website, and if you find us, fine.

“There is always somebody showing up, always,” Riffert says. “We’ve had guests from France, Germany and Japan. You can literally just show up on a whim and we’ll set you up.”

A carriage house that quartered Hessian soldiers during the American Revolution serves as a bed and breakfast today.

The owners live in the property’s main house, among the first Charleston single houses. Those they board have far friendlier motives for being here than the mercenary Hessians.

36 Meeting Street is in the heart of the Charleston’s historic residential area, says owner Vic Brandt.

He and wife Anne have run a bed and breakfast there since 1992.

Their guests feel like they are one of the neighbors, Brandt says.

The house and carriage house were built in 1743 and the house has the original bee hive oven.

Visiting the bed and breakfast, which includes period antiques such as four-poster beds, is like living in the 18th century, Brandt says.

In the carriage house, which previously was used for apartments, each guest has a suite with a kitchenette that is accessible from outside, Brandt says.

The owners provide breads, coffee, teas and juices.

Guests are welcome to visit the main house where the Brandts will give them a house tour.

The guests come from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Guests have included Princess Diana’s former private secretary, Oliver Everett, and actress Lauren Hutton.

Having a diversity of guests has enriched the family’s experience, Brandt says.

“It taught our children how to deal with people they have never met before. It gave them life lessons in how to deal with people.”

Having a bed and breakfast also has resulted in some surprising and humorous episodes.

“A group from England was here one year in August,” Brandt says. “They turned the air conditioning off and opened up all the windows so they could experience Charleston’s heat.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.