Sept. 19, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
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Intimate B&Bs Charm D.C. Visitors

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Christmas ornaments decorate the spiral staircase at Carriage House, a Capitol Hill bed-and-breakfast on Third Street Southeast.

Carriage House hardly resembles A Capitol Place. For one, it holds more people. When Powell bought the property, it had only a small two-story house. She and her husband soon built a three-story house behind it, and they now rent out the cabin to families. In addition, the main house has four furnished bedrooms for rent, each with its own theme and private bathroom.

The most popular room, Powell said, is one with a red bedspread and three decorative hats hanging just inside the door.

“I really try not to have little old lady bed-and-breakfast rooms,” she said, walking into the aforementioned bedroom. “This one is as close as you can get to little old lady, but this is the one that everyone requests. Everyone asks, ‘Can I have the room with the hats in it?’”

Another difference between the two inns is the amount of space available on the property. Carriage House boasts a tidy courtyard in between the cabin and main house, as well as a balcony. A Capitol Place lacks those amenities but does have Lincoln Park up the block.

The clientele is also a bit different, as Powell said she tends to host guests who come to the District to lobby Congress. And finally, there’s the company Powell keeps: her cat, Mimi, and Boots, her Alaskan dog that hates the cold.

One of the perks of staying at a B&B is the local perspective that the owners offer, and the Pellettieris and Powell make sure to point their guests to the most interesting places in Washington. Mary Pellettieri said she occasionally goes with guests to the Smithsonian museums, and Robert Pohl, a local tour guide who helps run the inn when the Pellettieris are out of town, is there to provide his expertise as well.

Powell’s favorite sites are the Library of Congress and the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, a complex off Connecticut Avenue with an expansive garden and artifacts from 18th- and 19th-century Russia.

A Capitol Place and Carriage House opened on the Hill years after another well-known bed-and-breakfast, Maison Orleans. That B&B, located on Fifth Street Southeast, opened in 1987 and housed guests for nearly 24 years.

Owner Bill Rouchell said he loved meeting interesting people from around the world. In his case, two guests he hosted three years ago may have saved his life by taking him to the emergency room. Rouchell had serious heart surgery soon after, and he and the couple who drove him to the hospital remain close.

Rouchell closed the inn in May of this year because of a combination of health issues, slower business and burnout from what he described as a 24-hour-a-day job.

When he closed his B&B, Rouchell didn’t completely leave the property-management game. He turned Maison Orleans into a longer-term rental property, and his most recent guest was former Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-W.Va.). 

Rouchell said his commitment to his guests often took precedence over social engagements. If they wanted to check in late at night, Rouchell was there.

The Pellettieris have found a good way around this problem: They spend part of the year at their vacation home near Sarasota, Fla., leaving Pohl in charge.

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