We decided that as we would be staying in Cape May for a whole week it would be nice to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast as we would usually do. Researching our options on the web I came across the website for the local paper, the Cape May Times, which had an excellent selection of rental properties of all sizes (and to suit most budgets). From this we picked out the Shore S Cape, which seemed to offer everything we wanted at a very good price. It proved to be an excellent choice.
On our arrival we received a very friendly welcome from our landlady, Donna, who showed us to a light and airy apartment on the ground floor. It was a warm sunny day and the several doors between our sitting room and the porch all stood open to let in the fresh air. We felt at home immediately, a feeling that remained until she waved us off, with gifts of cookies and apples for the journey, a week later.
The apartment consists of three rooms. At the front is that lovely cheerful sitting room, with windows on two sides, a comfortable sofa, dining table and chairs and a kitchen area. The latter was well-supplied with utensils, cutlery etc. We mostly ate out, but we did find these useful on our one stormy evening when we stayed home in front of the TV (with a DVD borrowed from Donna’s supply), a light supper and a few beers. We also made good use of the coffee machine during our stay. If needed there’s a microwave as well as the regular oven; fridge stocked with milk; coffee, tea and sugar all provided – so you can have a drink out on the porch as soon as you arrive! The porch by the way wraps round to the front. The side portion is allocated for the private use of this apartment, while the bit at the front is communal.
Beyond the sitting room is the bedroom, which also has a door out onto the porch and is decorated in the same navy and white (with touches of red) colour scheme. Although not large, it has plenty of storage space and a decent sized double bed. Beyond this again is the bathroom, which is probably the least good of the rooms, being a little on the small side. But on the plus side the towels supplied are plentiful and generously sized, and it’s absolutely fine for two people, as long as you don’t want to spend your holiday soaking in a tub (there isn’t one!) or pampering yourself.
The house itself is a lovely Victorian in the typical local “Painted Lady” style (more on the Painted Ladies in my General tip). It’s in a good location, only one block from the sea, though the town centre is a little further – about ten minutes on foot. But it’s a very pleasant walk through quiet streets lined with more of these historic houses, and we certainly never felt the need to take the car when going out for dinner.
Donna and Steve made us very welcome. I already mentioned the cookies on departure, but these weren’t the first we’d sampled as Donna had presented us with some earlier in the week too. They were as delicious as the smells coming from her kitchen had suggested they would be.
When I mentioned that I was planning to write this tip for VT she took me upstairs to see the two bedroom apartment on the top floor. This also looked lovely, with its own deck at the back overlooking the town, two good sized bedrooms and lots of space – it would be ideal for a family.
All in all I can really recommend the Shore S Cape. But I would warn you to go soon – there was a For Sale sign outside, and although Donna told me it will probably be a few years before she and Steve sell up, you might not want to take that chance!
Lovely Mason Cottage was built in 1871. It's a wonderful example of Victorian frill and flourishes! A full breakfast and afternoon tea is served. Summer rates are $170-$300. A special rate of three nights for the price of two begins Sept.7-Dec.22, Sunday-Thursdays.
Walking along Columbia Avenue is like taking a step back in time. You'll see wonderfully restored Victorians decorated with ornate gingerbread trim and wide, inviting front porches! The Mason Cottage sits among other lovely restored homes that have been repurposed as popular Bed and Breakfasts.
This was a wonderful find, Terry found this one on the internet and booked it. It was very clean with all you would need, a full kitchen with pots, pans and dishes, satellite TV with alot of stations and off street parking. We went to the Acme in town and didn't come close to filling the full size fridge. The owner was perfect and easy to deal with, she was so nice that because it rained all day Friday she let us check out at 3PM instead of 10AM so we could enjoy our Sunday instead of worrying about our things locked up in the truck all day. It was a great little cottage just the right size for 2 people and you could see the Cape May Lighthouse from the front porch.
The view from the balcony....
It was beg/mid April and was still cold in NY, but here it seemed like the summer already started, you could've worn a tshirt.
Angel of the Sea
This B&B offers accomodations and tours. If you are visiting Cape May around Christmas, take a tour of the city to see all the beautiful victorian homes lit up with lights...it's amazing!
The Angel of the Sea was built around 1850 as a 'summer cottage' for William Weightman, Sr., a Philadelphia chemist who discovered and manufactured quinine for medical applications. Built as a single structure, the house originally stood on the corner of Franklin and Washington Streets where the Cape May Post Office now stands.
In 1881, Mr. Weightman's son, William, Jr., decided that an ocean view from the broad porches of his 'cottage' would be appreciated by family, friends and guests. To accomplish this goal, he hired a number of local farmers to move the house to a piece of property on the corner of Ocean and Beach Avenues, near where the Marquis de Lafayette now stands.
The farmers discovered the house was too large to move as one unit. Not wanting to lose the winter work, they decided to cut the house in half, move it in sections and then reconnect it after the move. Their task took all winter long, pulling the sections on rolling tree trunks with mule and horse power! Unfortunately, after both halves of the house were moved to the new location, the farmers discovered that, although their mules and horses were quite adequate for 'pulling' the house, they proved totally ineffective in 'pushing' it back together.
Summer was close upon them, and Mr. Weightman would soon be returning to Cape May. The farmers enclosed the sides where the cut had been made, renovated as best they could and hurried back to their farming chores. The results of their efforts are the two buildings as they stand today.
The house remained in the Weightman family until Mr. Weightman's death in 1907. During the next 50 or so years the Weightman Cottage, as it was called, was used as a hotel, guest house and, during one period, a restaurant.
In 1962 a powerful Nor'easter ripped through New Jersey and devastated the city of Cape May. Referred to by many as the Storm of the Century, it destroyed much of the town including Convention Hall and the boardwalk. Miraculously The Angel survived, but not without considerable damage. The massive rebuilding that followed the storm cleanup called for the two houses to be torn down to make room for a cinder block hotel. They were saved from this fate when they were purchased by the Reverend Carl McIntire and moved from the site to their present location on Trenton Avenue. This time they were moved on flatbed trucks and set at an angle (photo above) at their new location to take advantage of the ocean views and breezes.
From 1962 to 1981, the houses were used to board employees from several nearby inns and as a dormitory for students from Shelton College.
During this time they received very little maintenance and in 1981 they were declared uninhabitable. Virtually unwanted, this once magnificent structure was left abandoned to vandals and the elements until December of 1988.
About that time, John Girton, a builder and developer, and his wife Barbara crawled through a window to check out the soundness of the buildings. Although all of the windows were broken out, walls had collapsed and many of the porches and stairways had rotted, it appeared the houses could be saved!
Based on what they found, the Girtons purchased the property and began renovations in January, 1989. Time was money and John Girton led his crews seven days a week around the clock to put The Angel back together. At times, as many as 75 people were working on the site during a 24 hour period. At the end of one shift, one painting crew would get off the scaffolding and another would get on it.
A trailer set up in the backyard housed a fully functional cabinet-making shop. There artisans and carpenters would find bits and pieces of the original building and piece them together. They then recreated on-site all the gingerbread detail, wall brackets and windows, copying the original designs they found.
The first of the two buildings opened in July of 1989, only six short months after renovations had begun! One year later, the most complete Victorian restoration in New Jersey was completed. The total project cost approximately $3.5 million and was done with over 103,000 man hours of labor.
After its first two successful seasons as a bed and breakfast, The Angel of the Sea was acknowledged as one of the Top Ten B & Bs in the United States by two national bed and breakfast organizations. It also won the Historic Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC for renovation to historic specifications.
Numerous local and national awards have followed and today The Angel is still rated as one of the Top Ten B & Bs in the country.
Elaine's Dinner Theater just opened an inn on its premises in 2004. They obviously spent lavishly; oddly, they don't seem to be promoting it much. If you pass by, you may still think there's just the dinner theater inside. But it's a great place to stay. Very close to beach, shops, restaurants, etc. And guest rooms are absolutely lovely. Also, the 2nd-floor porch is different and kind of neat.
Read about Elaine's toward the end of this story:
Since I am a local, I cannot really comment on any specific inn because I've never stayed at one. However, in my youth I chambermaided at two and have been aquainted with the business practices of many other B&B owners. People who run B&Bs in town are almost always very dedicated to hospitality. You have to be in order to let total strangers invade your home for at least 9 months out of the year. Because most of them have a small amount of bedrooms (between 5 and 10) the owners give very individualized service and really enjoy getting to know their guests. And they really, really want to see you come back! It's the best way to really relax, feel at home, and have a local handy to quiz about different aspects of town. Many of them are very up on local history and culture and can tell lots of stories and give helpful advice. Plus, the majority of B&Bs are within walking distance to the center of town, which is a plus. I strongly advise finding yourself a nice B&B, which the Chamber of Commerce is more than willing to help with. A few solid, reputable names are The Queen Victoria, Inn at 22 Jackson, The Abbey, and The Angel of the Sea.
Do try and stay in one of the charming Victorian Bed & Breakfast's in town. What they lack in service and facilities, they make up for in character and atmosphere. The one we stayed in was the Stockton Inn.
Our room had an adorable(my wifes description) poster bed with canopy. I guess it was befitting our status as newlyweds (having only been married for a couple months on this trip).
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