The Starboard Inn Elk Rapids

In a beachfront village brimming with boutiques, cafes, a vintage movie theater, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and several antique shops, it's always seemed strange that Elk Rapids doesn't offer more downtown accommodations for overnighters. Then we happened upon The Starboard Inn, tucked discreetly between the shops on River Street and the sleepy neighborhood to the south.

The refined face of the historic brick building — painted cream, dressed with royal blue awnings and finished with tidy pops of bushes and flowers — conceals three separate suites: the Captain's Quarters, whose 3,000 square feet contain four bedrooms, two full baths, three enclosed porches, plus kitchen, living room and dining room; the Upper Deck, which offers three bedrooms, two full baths, plus kitchen, living and dining rooms; and the Cuddy, a one bedroom, one bath beauty with kitchen and living room.

Intrigued by the whispers of the building's storied past — some say with a wink that it once served as a lonely lumberman's boarding house — owner Paul Hresko has worked hard to keep much of the original features intact. Wide-planked pine floors, claw foot tubs, ornate moldings around each door and window, beadboard walls and old fashioned oddities like the giant flour dispenser in the Captain's Quarters' kitchen are paired with even more vintage furniture and accessories from Hresko's antique business. The result is classic Northern cottage charm done divine.

Just one recommendation: You'll love preparing an intimate dinner inside your suite's well-equipped kitchen each night, but set aside one evening to wander down to the beach with a pizza from Chef Charles (231-264-8901). Both shore and chef are steps from your suite's front door, picnic tables are at the ready, and the sunset over East Grand Traverse Bay is not to be missed.

June through August, The Starboard Inn rents on a weekly basis. Rates are $850 (Cuddy); $1,350 (Upper Deck); and $1,500 (Captain's Quarters). September through May, the suites are rented by the month or, if available, for a two-night minimum stay. Call for rates. 231-264-6858.

Lynda Twardowski is travel editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.

Note: This article was first published in April 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.