Freeport, Maine, is synonymous with shopping—the town brims with local artisan wares, glittering jewelry boutiques, and retail outlets galore, including L.L.Bean, the premiere brand for outdoor sports gear and the famous Duck Boot.
Spending the night is infinitely preferable to the two- or three-hour drive home, and Freeport is endowed with a variety of accommodations from grand hotels to lost-in-time motels. But the most private, convenient, and luxurious place to stay is perhaps also Freeport’s newest, a joint effort of the town’s two premier brands. The L.L.Bean Guest House at the Harraseeket Inn provides all the comforts of a fine hotel (including room service) in a single-family house while giving you the chance to see how much you really like that leather chair you ogled at L.L.Bean Home.
“I bought the little house next to the inn and renovated it,” says Chip Gray, owner of the Harraseeket Inn, the venerable 94-room hotel that anchors the north end of Freeport’s Main Street.
A one-and-a-half-story house built in 1850, the place had gone through some unfortunate renovations over the years. Gray refinished the hardwood floors that were hidden under shag carpeting, upgraded the upstairs bathroom, and painted the walls, leaving charming original elements like the push-button light switches with their mother-of-pearl faces. Then he turned to his business neighbor down the street with an idea.
“He came to us and suggested that we furnish the house with our products. He offers it to guests for nightly stays as part of the inn, while we get to show off our furniture,” says Jennifer Benevides, corporate merchant manager at L.L. Bean’s Home division. “It’s a way for us to bring the brand to life.”
The result is a handsomely outfitted three-bedroom, two-bath house that sleeps nine. With a gable front, it is clearly part of Freeport’s historic Main Street. The side door faces a narrow lane. Taking a few steps across the lane and under an arbor brings you to a side door of the Harraseeket Inn, its indoor pool, and two great restaurants. A night at the guest house includes all the amenities of the inn, including housekeeping, a full buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, and use of the pool and fitness facilities. In-room massages are available, as is the aforementioned room service.
The guest house’s living room has a wood-burning fireplace; there is dry firewood and kindling in an L.L.Bean log cradle, along with the company’s fireplace tools and gloves. Above the mantel is a print on canvas of the brand’s iconic Maine Hunting Shoe. The comfortable sofa, live-edge coffee table, leather chair and matching ottoman, compass rose metal wall art, and pale blue rectangular braided rug are all available at L.L.Bean Home just down the street.
“This is not a showroom; this is an experience,” says Benevides. “We looked at this as a house visited by lots of different kinds of people, so it has to be super functional.”
The layout flows around a central staircase, with the living room and dining room to either side and a kitchen in the rear. Next to the kitchen is a large family room with comfortable seating. There is also a sun porch and an outdoor deck with a dining table and chairs, as well as a sunny entry porch. The three bedrooms upstairs have king, queen, and twin beds.
“People staying here will be of different ages and lifestyles,” Benevides says. “They may spend a night or a week. But they will hopefully enjoy well-crafted furniture. L.L.Bean is about enjoying your home; it?s where you rejuvenate.”
As they receive use in the guest house, the products will periodically be updated, she says.
Gray says that the house is an ideal place for families, groups of friends, and girlfriend weekends. And now, he says with a smile, “You can come here by train.”