The three-story, red-brick Historic Edgewater Hotel, a “Bed and Breakfast Style Inn,” looms large in the center of downtown Winter Garden, west of Orlando, appearing much the same as when it opened in 1927.
After a restoration that added modern conveniences, the inn offers guests a choice of nearly two dozen one- and two-bedroom suites on the second floor. Three rooms have king-sized beds and one is an efficiency.
On my recent visit, I rode up to my room in the original 1927 Otis elevator. A staff member is required to operate the elevator; therefore, I would not recommend the Edgewater for travelers who cannot manage stairs.
I stayed in Room 212, a corner room with a wrought iron king bed, a love seat (rather worn), two dressers, an antique sink in the bedroom and four big windows providing a pleasant view of downtown. The bed was so comfy I overslept an hour!
I splurged this time around to get a view and a larger room, but the cost was still only $126, plus tax. Weekday rates at the Edgewater range from $89, for a small room with a double bed and shower only, to $150, for a two-bedroom efficiency. Weekend rates are $94-$156. So, there’s a price point to suit every budget.
Upon taking a tour of the second floor, I found my favorite room, 215, the Honeymoon/Anniversary Suite. The room is light and bright, with a king-sized bed covered in a white bedspread, a lovely sitting area, armoire, vanity dresser and large mirror (and no sink in the bedroom). The name certainly befits the room, which is tailor-made for anyone celebrating an occasion.
The Sunday I stayed at the Edgewater, the lobby and the long empty hallway felt a bit spooky, especially at night. I never saw another soul, except the staff. (The following Saturday, the website showed, the Edgewater was nearly 100 percent booked.)
After sleeping in, I walked a few steps from my room to the second floor dining room, where guests eat breakfast around a long communal table, an arrangement ideal for socializing. I discovered that a nice couple from Ohio had also stayed the night, but their room was in the other wing, too far away to hear. I learned that they had just visited friends in my hometown, Sarasota.
Guests get to pick what time they want to eat and order their breakfast from a menu with many choices – two perks that I would encourage other B&Bs to adopt.
After consuming my breakfast to order – a fried egg over easy, bacon and a bagel – I was fortified for a morning exploring downtown Winter Garden, one of the most walkable and charming small towns I have encountered.
A main attraction, at least for nature lovers and the athletic, is the West Orange Trail – an extra-wide, paved path that runs through the center of downtown, bringing bicyclists past the restaurants and the shops selling high-end clothing, olive oil and quilts, and renting and selling bikes. The popular trail is 22 miles long, about one mile of which travels down two-lane Plant Street in Winter Garden.
In the middle of the trail is a huge fountain, surrounded by metal porch swings and benches, where visitors can “take a load off” and watch the bikers go by.
When it’s time for lunch, Edgewater guests may opt to return to the inn, where three restaurants occupy the first floor. I chose the Thai Blossom, and was glad I did; the mixed vegetables with pork was delicious. An old-fashioned ice cream shop and a barbershop are also located on the first floor.
Another downtown attraction is the Mediterranean Revival-style Garden Theatre. Built on Plant Street in 1935, the theater reopened in 2008 after a restoration. It now hosts live plays, concerts and movies.
You may want to plan your visit to Winter Garden during an event. The biggest is Spring Fever in the Garden, a two-day flower and garden show held downtown every April. In addition to plants and flowers for sale, you can expect live entertainment and an art auction.
Winter Garden offers a welcome break from the hubbub – a spot to relax and recharge – but if you require more activity, Orlando and all its restaurants, malls and theme parks, including Disney World, are within a 30-minute drive.
(Note: As always, I accepted no compensation in exchange for writing this review, and did not reveal my intentions to the innkeepers.)