Category Archives: Business

To AirBNB or not AirBNB, That is the Question.

The buzz in the Bed and Breakfast world lately seems to be whether or not one should consider using a short term rental service for your stay while traveling. While each traveler stay is different,  it’s all a matter of individual preference. I wouldhowever like to suggest some reasons why staying at a “Real BNB” is the better choice.

Although every Bed and Breakfast is unique, a RealBNB is usually a family owned and operated small business. It is not a part time job and the Innkeepers are professionals who know the hospitality business and put the customer first. Many Innkeeepers also have years of experience in the corporate world and understand the needs and wants of the business traveler, because after all we’ve “been there, done that”. We  know what life as a road warrior consists of and how to address those concerns whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure. Innkeepers also know the local area and provide concierge services to let you enjoy sites off the beaten path,

RealBNBs are also insured, regulated and have fire safety codes that are above and beyond typical residential requirements. Many have mandatory fire safety equipment installed such as sprinklers or Fire Department connected smoke alarms. You can sleep restfully knowing that these systems are in place in case there was an emergency. Real BNBs also contribute to the local economy by paying local and state taxes.

And speaking of sleeping. A real Bed and Breakfast  is truly that.

When you arrive, you may be greeted by fresh baked goods, you and are always provided with a comfortable room and bed , In many cases (ours included) the Bed and Breakfast  is in a historic building. (circa 1885 more on that in a future post) But in addition to the comfortable bed, upon awakening, you are treated to a wonderful, hot breakfast which is often prepared by a trained culinary professional.  

Let’s look at these two points individually. When you check into a RealBNB you will not find a sleeper couch nor Air mattress. You will find a well appointed bedroom and comfortable bed and most, such as The Ash Street Inn, also have private en suite bathrooms. We also offer Queen sizes beds with triple sheeting and plush pillows. Many also have common areas outside the bedroom where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps an outside sitting area too. Many of our guests sit on  our wrap around porch and often enjoy an adult beverage outside after a busy day of work, after visiting family or site seeing.

Then there is breakfast

A RealBNB will of course have coffee, tea and juice available but also different hot and cold  options as well. Some may offer one main entree while others such as The Ash Street Inn offer cooked to order items ranging from pancakes to omelettes to weekend specials.  Most also offer dietary options such as Gluten Free or Vegan. I can speak from experience that my vegan banana walnut pancakes have made for some very happy guests! And BTW, we can also have vegan or gluten free snacks waiting if you tell us ahead of time.

With these reasons in mind, if you enjoy comfort, delicious breakfasts and taking the path less traveled. Consider a RealBNB, and as Shakespeare wrote in The Two Gentlemen from Verona enjoy “One Feast, One House, One Mutual Happiness.” or to paraphrase “One Breakfast, One Bedroom, and One Happy Time”

A Happy Marriage and a Perfect Match

Innkeepers Blog
March 2016

10872975_10153898514983368_8767667514716842158_oAs we are receiving our first bookings of the year for weddings to be held in summer and fall, Rob and I are thinking of all the brides-to-be who stayed with us last year. They allowed us to be part of the preparations and excitement of getting ready for the “big event”.

We had wedding parties who booked the entire Inn and creatively took advantage of each unique room to become the perfect stage for fun pre-wedding photos with bride and bridesmaids. (I particularly enjoyed a photo of all the bridesmaids in their morning robes toasting to the bride…). The stained glass windows, the original brass door handles and the fireplaces all added a touch of beauty and elegance to the photo shoot.We have been told that the location of the Ash Street Inn to downtown and the closeness to the Currier Art Museum as well as several churches in the area makes it an ideal “home base” for all things pre-wedding related!

Last spring we had a wonderful couple staying here who not only fully enjoyed the Victorian architecture of the Inn, but the bride and bridesmaids also went in style to church in 1930’s era classic cars, which came to pick them up. What a beautiful sight that was!

11412093_10153963851403368_3903477196333254761_oIn summer another bride transformed our porch into an impromptu beauty salon, where all the women got their make-up professionally done. Lots of laughter, colors, spa water and snacks (provided by the Inn) and of course – beautiful women everywhere.

It is always an honor and a wonderful experience for us to see happy women arrive at the Inn and turn into the most amazing looking brides. The smiles we see all around are infectious and stay with us long after the bride and groom have left for their honeymoon!

If you are planning a wedding and would like to use our Inn as part of the festivities, we provide several different packages. From a getaway wedding night before the honeymoon, to booking all five rooms, we can offer an option to suit your needs.

I’m not always in the kitchen

kitchenA couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting three recent graduates from Southern New Hampshire University class of 2015 (including one who had received her Master’s.) They were in town to attend the commencement celebration, as they were part of the online learning program and wanted to walk with the class.

This was a special weekend because although the guests did not know each other previously, they shared completing their degrees as adults and therefore shared a common bond.
This bond was evident by the time they spent sharing cabs, going out to dinner and of course breakfast talk. Margit and I could not help but be caught up with this special weekend and found ourselves joining in conversations more than usual, joking and sharing what the Bavarians (and Germans in general) call “Gemütlichkeit” which literally translates to coziness.

Although this weekend was special in many ways, the day to day operations was relatively the same as any other weekend.

Baked goods had to be ready for afternoon snacks, evening prep work had to be done for weekend breakfast specials and then the normal shopping and cleaning that also takes place behind the scenes.
This weekend seemed a little different since every time our guests returned from one event or the other, they found me in the kitchen.

This turned into a running joke until finally when several guests were returning from a celebration dinner (I think they were coming into the dining room for a late night snack) they saw me once again, and I finally had to tell them “I’m not always in the kitchen!”

This was indeed true as we then retreated to the porch for some late night conversation and a nightcap. Fun was be had by all and once more the saying came true: “Come as stranger, leave as friends”

The Ash Street Inn has new owners!

Just a short note to let everyone know that we are the new owners of the Ash Street Inn. Margit and I are very excited to start this new adventure. We know that Eric and Darlene have done a wonderful job restoring this gem of a building and their customer service has been wonderful. We will continue this as we develop our own style and put our own special spin on it.

A little background on us, One of the hats that I wear is a Chef’s hat. I am a Certified Personal Chef and a Member of the United States Personal Chefs Network. I plan on making some gradual changes to the wonderful breakfast that is currently being served and adding weekend specials to the mix. Watch this space!

As for Margit, she grew up in Germany where her mother was an Owner/Operator of a “Gasthaus” (Guest House) and knows the in and out of the business.

Together we know that our background and experience will make a smooth transition for our guests and look forward to having you come stay at our Inn.


Top 10 Cities to Live In

I know I talk a lot about Manchester, NH being a great place live in and visit.  Some folks might just shrug that off and attribute it to the fact that lots of people think they live in a great place.  If they didn’t think it was that great they would probably move to another place that was better!  But Manchester has received a bunch of accolades from several sources so I thought I’d pass them along to prove that I’m, at least somewhat, impartial.  And I’m not a native of New Hampshire either.  My wife and I are both from Massachusetts, what they call Flatlanders up here, so that’s not just being idyllic about home-sweet-home., which is the online presence of the now-defunct magazine, recently named Manchester, NH the 10th best mid-size place to live and start a business.  They found that Manchester has a healthy economy, moderate cost of living, light traffic, robust housing stock and top-notch educational system!  As innkeepers here at the Ash Street Inn, we are more interested in what might drive visitors to Manchester than what might make them want to live here but it turns out that they overlap quite well.  A good economy, light traffic and great schools in the area mean that we get lots of guests who are looking for a chance to relax and enjoy themselves and want to spend that time in a vibrant community with other folks who are doing the same things.  Works for us all.

One award however does not a trend make.  It would be much more meaningful if there was some independent corroboration.  So here we go.

In May of 2010, Forbes Magazine named Manchester, NH to their Top 10 list of livable places based on the last five years of economic growth, cost of living, current unemployment rates and crime rates.

In 2009, named Manchester, NH 13th on their list of the best places to live and start a business in the United States.

Also in 2009, Kiplinger’s named Manchester, NH the second most tax friendly city in the US, second only to Anchorage, AK.

Last, but not least, also in 2009, Forbes magazine put Manchester, NH #1 on it’s list “America’s 100 Cheapest Places to Live”.

It’s great to see that, for the criteria that were the basis for these surveys, Manchester, NH is doing well and has been for some time.  Of course, if you were to change the criteria, Manchester’s ranking might well be different but to find a thriving, active, fun community that can change with the times and isn’t just about the hype of the current fads, these criteria work just fine.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should spend a few days in Manchester, NH and see for yourself what a great place it is.


Great new restaurants in Manchester, NH

While there’s certainly no shortage of great places to dine in Manchester, we have some great new spots that deserve some attention.  While Darlene and I have not yet been able to visit these spots, the guests at the Ash Street Inn have given us some great reviews.  So we thought we could pass along some great new ideas to our readers.

XO on Elm, at 827 Elm Street, calls their style “metropolitan nouveau cuisine with a unique New England flair.  Our guests call it fresh, unusual and exciting!  Lots of different mixtures of flavors in some new twists on old favorites makes for an interesting experience whether you go for tapas and cocktails or for dinner.  There is always lots of excitement with a new place and the service has always been quick and professional.  I’m looking forward to the jumbo sea scallops frilled with a maple bourbon glaze and accompanied with pumpkin risotto!

Ignite Bar and Grille, at 100 Hanover Street, has been around a bit longer than XO on Elm but it is still quite new.  In a very short time it has become a favorite spot for local professionals after a hard day’s work whether it’s just for a quick drink and some appetizers or a leisurely dinner with friends.  Lots of great menu items and some really interesting takes on some things.  Ever had fried pickles?  One of our guests said that a deep fried sliced dill with ranch dip is awesome!  And the Asian BBQ Ribeye Steak is made with real Asian BBQ sauce.  I’m going to have to try that one just to see what it is.

Firefly American Bistro and Bar, at 22 Concord Street, has been around well over a year but they still have that “new spot” feel.  They have won several awards through our local “underground” newspaper’s reader’s poll (I promise to write about the Hippo soon!) including 2010 awards as the “Best Date Place” and the “Best Cocktail” for the Firefly Dirty-tini!  One cold, raw day last winter, Darlene and I stopped in for an early dinner and a wonderful time.  It was just noisy enough to put some life into a dreary day and the chowder was perfect for warming up the insides too!  I’m already planning to go back for their Sea Scallops Casino because I’m dying to try scallops with smoked bacon, spinach and feta cheese.  Might have to get back there soon!

We’re really blessed to have great little spots like this so close to us at the Ash Street Inn.  These three are all within a three-block area (little city blocks – not NY blocks) and just over a half mile from the Inn.  We’ll keep talking about all the fine dining that’s available here in Manchester.  Sooner or later we know you will find a reason to some stay with us at the Inn and indulge in some fine dining of your choice.


International Cuisine

Many of our guests at the Ash Street Inn here in Manchester, NH are quite surprised to find out that even Manchester has international food – much less great international food.  If you love Asian food, we have many great restaurants to choose from but three really stand out as favorites of our guests.

For Indian food, the India Palace, at 573 South Willow Street, gets rave reviews from everyone.  Set in what looks like an office building along South Willow Street, the outside looks just a bit odd for a restaurant.  But once you are inside, the setting and decoration, not to mention the aroma, makes you forget where you are.  They have a varied menu from chicken to lamb to seafood to vegetarian to tandoori specialties.  All the ingredients are fresh and every thing is prepared on site.  Our guests love it and rate it highly.

For Thai food, Lakorn Thai, at 470 South Main Street on Manchester’s West Side, gets four stars from all our guests.  Set in a small, unassuming strip mall, Lakorn Thai is all about the food.  No fancy decorations – just great Thai food.  All of the dishes are authentic to the cuisine and can be ordered in your choice of spiciness.   We’ve been told to be careful how spicy you request because they will give you exactly what you ordered!  Simple surroundings, fantastic food and great prices have our guests going back for more!

Love Asian food and want a real treat?  Manchester is home to one of very few restaurants that feature authentic Nepali cuisine.  Café Momo, at 1065 Hanover Street, is a real gem.  Darlene is not a real fan of Asian food but we did visit Café Momo shortly after they opened and it was great!  We started with momos, which are small filled dumplings, and they were moist and sweet.  Darlene, who is also not much of a drinker but love cucumbers, tried the cucumber cooler which is lime juice, cucumbers and rice wine wants me to warn you that rice wine has a kick to it!  From there it was just a wonderful journey through to dessert where I ordered the rice pudding which was simple, and decadent, at the same time.  Both Darlene and I, and dozens of our guests, will assure you that Café Momo is a real find.  Lots of citrus, yoghurt and fresh fruits in amazing combinations.

In future posts we’ll talk about some of the other international restaurants that have sprung up in Manchester as the Queen city has grown and matured!


Manchester, NH is a college town!

As we near the end of April, it’s time to think about college and university graduations.  It’s also a great time for us to talk about all the great schools that are so close to us here at the Ash Street Inn.

St. Anselm’s College, at 100 St. Anselm’s Drive, has their commencement scheduled for 2:00 PM on May 22 on their 400 acre campus.  St. Anselm’s College was founded in 1889 by the Roman Catholic Order of Saint Benedictine and now has an enrollment of over 2,000 students.  With a student to faculty ratio of 12:1, they have developed a reputation for academic excellence in many areas.  St. Anselm’s College is 3.6 miles from the Inn.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), at 2500 River Road, has their commencement scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at 11:00 AM at the Verizon Wireless Arena in downtown Manchester.  SNHU was founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science.  Over the years it has grown into the school it is today with 3,900 day/evening students and another 1,900 online students pursuing a vast array of degrees.  SNHU is 3.5 miles from the Inn.  The Verizon Wireless Arena is 1.1 miles from the Inn.

The New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA), at 148 Concord Street, has their commencement scheduled for Sunday, May 23.  NHIA offer the only BFA program in the State of New Hampshire and also offers a multitude of continuing education programs for aspiring artists.  With a student to faculty ratio of less than 10:1, they provide their students with personal attention.  They now have over 425 full-time students and over 1,500 students in the continuing education programs.  Founded in 1898, they have undergone a rebirth in the last five years and continue to grow and expand in downtown Manchester.  NHIA is .5 miles from the Inn.

The University of New Hampshire has a satellite campus in Manchester’s historic Millyard at 400 North Commercial Street.  Their commencement is scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at 4:00 PM at the Expo Center at the Center of New Hampshire.  Founded in 1985, the Manchester Campus has grown to over 2,000 students pursuing a number of degree programs through the University.  With a student to faculty ratio of 9:1, the programs get great reviews from the students for the personal attention that they receive.  The Manchester Campus is .7 miles from the Inn.  The Expo Center is 1.1 miles from the Inn.

Here at the Ash Street Inn, we consider ourselves lucky to have so many great colleges in the city.  Having received my last degree in 1979, it is refreshing to meet the “new generation” when they, and their parents, stay at the Inn to visit the schools in the area.  With all the negative press we read in the papers everyday, it is heartening to actually meet these young people.  Makes you realize that we are going to make it after all!