What makes a tea party so alluring? Maybe it’s the fun, the fanciness and a touch of fantasy. After all, it the closest that most people will come to feeling royal.
“I have a love for the fine China, for the little petit-four [cakes], the little quaint things, and I think it’s so affiliated with royalty, isn’t it?” said Grace Meyer, who owns the Lady Grace Bed & Breakfast in Crisfield, Md. “You dress up really nice, and you have the little sandwiches. It just gives you a royal feeling, to a degree. You feel very important … and then you walk out and come back to reality,” she said. “Women love it. It’s very elegant.”
Guests can stay for a few hours (tea) or a few days (at the inn). Lady Grace B&B feels like a cozy, elegant escape, from porcelain and lace to the antique furniture and typewriter.
Everyone knows that mini sandwiches make a tea party. “We do the cream cheese and cucumber, the smoked salmon, chicken salad, usually a little quiche … then traditional English scones with jam and Chantilly cream,” Meyer said. Guests continue chatting as dessert arrives: petit fours, mini cheesecakes, coconut macaroons, French macaroons or other sweets.
The tearoom is open by appointment. Innkeepers Grace and her husband, Bill, hope to add full lunch service in the near future. The small gift shop sells fragrant teas, charming teacups, creamy soaps and more.
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, baby or wedding showers, birthday parties for girls and women of all ages — so many events call for a cozy teatime experience. Some winter night, Meyer would even love to invite a regional theatre group to perform a murder mystery dinner.
Evoking a Victorian atmosphere, the Queen Anne style house was built around 1900, once the residence of a captain who likely enjoyed Crisfield’s heyday as a seafood and shipping capital. Modern conveniences, like central heating and air, keep guests comfortable as they enjoy yesteryear.
Since moving into the house in May of 2021 (known as My Fair Lady B&B for several decades), the Meyers had a busy summer, especially as visitors came for Crisfield’s classic festivals. Christmastime brought holiday parties and Tea with Mrs. Claus, which livened up the typically quiet Delmarva winters.
Each Lady Grace bedroom is themed to a different color, and each named for Grace’s daughters and granddaughters, like the Hannah Room in pale pink; the Mandie Room in French black and white; Paiton Room in grays and reds; and Tamika Room in coastal blue, green and peach. The third-floor Reagan’s Retreat is a family-style suite with three beds and sitting areas. All bedrooms have an ensuite bathroom.
Staying at a B&B is just homier than a hotel, Meyer said. “In the morning, when we’ve had 10 people, all sitting round one table for breakfast, talking and chattering and getting to know each other, it’s an atmosphere that they really like. They go for that [homey], quaint, more intimate feeling, you can connect with people more … I’ll be in the kitchen, and I’ll think ‘this is what it’s all about.’ Being able to connect with people better.”
Of course, some guests enjoy their privacy, and they’ll enjoy quiet time in their room or front porch.
And “breakfast” is right there in the name. At Lady Grace, the typical breakfast is multiple courses, starting with fruit, muffins, pastries, followed by yogurt parfaits with granola, berries and honey. A warm berry cobbler complements the savory breakfast casserole, quiche, omelets and more.
After that, Crisfield is open for exploration: boating tours, fishing, kayak rentals, golf, music, festivals and the entire Arts & Entertainment District.
In the meantime, Meyer prepares for the next day’s guests. “I’m a welcoming person! I can make them tea when they arrive … I love to hear people’s stories and where they come from because they come from all over,” she said. “Everyone wants to hear how I moved from Australia and how we came to Crisfield. It’s just a really easygoing atmosphere that people love.”
Coming together from Phoenix (she’s from Queensland, and he was raised in southern California), they searched all over for the right B&B, and the Crisfield house really spoke to their souls, from the atmosphere to the nearby Tangier Sound (opening to the Chesapeake Bay). Grace brings a long background in hospitality, food services and catering, while Bill is recently retired from a 40-year career in television camera work and production.
When booking a B&B, people should consider what kind of atmosphere they want. Meyer prefers small, friendly inns to the large, almost hotel-like “B&Bs” that she’s seen. Also consider your travel details; B&Bs are special because the owner is often right there, cooking and cleaning, but they’re less likely to allow middle-of-the-night arrivals, like a hotel.
Lady Grace Bed and Breakfast is located at 38 West Main Street, Crisfield, Md. Call (602) 587-4277 for reservations (and avoid online fees) or learn more at ladygracebandb.com and Facebook.