Note: I’m sad to report that as of April 1, 2016, the Seven Sisters Inn is closed. It is for sale or lease, and hopefully will reopen soon with new owners. The website has been taken down; follow the Facebook page to stay up-to-date. I will keep my review up as it was certainly one of the most fascinating inns where I have stayed.
King Tut’s sarcophagus stands guard by your bed as you fall asleep and dream you have been transported to faraway Cairo. Step outside your door and you are whisked away to Paris, Casablanca, Madrid or Beijing.
Open your eyes and discover – surprise ! – you are actually in Central Florida’s horse country, Ocala, at a Victorian Painted Lady with unexpected international flair. Seven Sisters Inn, built in 1890, offers five rooms, each lavishly furnished and decorated with exotic collectibles, some purchased in foreign lands by the previous owners, who were pilots.
One example is the carved entranceway to the Casablanca Suite, which the pilots brought home from Bali.
The Seven Sisters Inn has been well known for many years for hosting murder mystery events, in which costumed guests play assigned characters. However, in September and October, the inn – with a reputation for being haunted – instead organizes numerous Halloween events, including a Spirited Tea Party, a Ghost Hunt conducted by “professional” ghost investigators, a Masquerade Gala and a Halloween Midnight Séance.
Fall is an ideal time to plan a trip to Ocala, north of Tampa, especially if you’re a nature lover. Go horseback riding, take a horse-and-carriage ride in the hilly countryside or visit Silver Springs State Park. If you prefer indoor activities, visit Appleton Museum of Art or Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.
During my visit to Seven Sisters Inn, I stayed in the Paris Suite, although when I arrived owner Bob Schmidt offered me my choice of rooms, since I was the only guest. (As I have said before, traveling on weekdays, as I do, pays off in perks, not to mention lower prices.) The Paris Suite is the smallest, but the room is cozy and bright, with a romantic air, as the name implies.
Schmidt immediately provided a complete tour of the house. He was most attentive and affable throughout my visit. I believe he genuinely enjoys operating the inn, which he owns with his wife.
In my suite, the romantic theme is felt throughout, with a lacy fabric hanging from a corona above the all-white bed, a peaceful country scene on the blue wallpaper, a pink velvet sofa and a pretty flowered rug. An ornate little marble-and-gold table holds an old-fashioned (purely decorative) phone. The ceiling is painted with fluffy white clouds and birds.
I loved the mirrored French doors that lead to the bathroom, with its silver-footed soaking tub, where you can relax and gaze at a mural of the Eiffel Tower.
If you prefer a larger accommodation, choose the Madrid, Casablanca or Cairo suites, all with king-sized, canopied beds and fireplaces. But, of course, you will pay a higher price than for the smaller Paris or Beijing suites. The Cairo is the largest room. (For more photos of the rooms, visit the Photo Gallery.)
In each of the larger suites, dark silks and exotic artwork create an atmosphere of mystery, in keeping with the name.
The en suite bathrooms are as luxurious as the bedrooms. A dark purple velvet chair first caught my eye in the Casablanca bathroom. But then I was drawn to the unusual cutout entrance to the shower, which is tiled from ceiling to floor. The bathroom also has a sunken tub.
In the Cairo Suite, you may relax in a sunken blue tub or a big walk-in shower with a wall of blue tiles. The sink is gold-and-blue speckled and in the center of the bathroom floor is a huge starburst tile.
The Madrid Suite, the only one downstairs, has a sunken tub in the bedroom. In the bathroom you’ll find a walk-in shower and a stained-glass window of a couple dancing. (I love stained glass.)
In the Beijing Suite (a bit bigger than Paris, for the same price), gold birds and flowers decorate carved double doors to the bathroom, which has two sinks. The walk-in shower has a bench and bamboo etchings on the walls.
Choose one of the five rooms and immerse yourself in the culture of a foreign land, right in the heart of Central Florida. You certainly won’t find another bed-and-breakfast with the same combination of traditional Victorian architecture and exotic décor.
(Note: As always, I accepted no compensation in exchange for writing this review, and did not reveal my intentions to the innkeeper.)