The Beaconlight's beam has faded into darkness A review of Beaconlight Guesthouse
Having been a regular at the Beaconlight for years, I have grown to know hospitality, service, and friendship. This year the owners (Trevor & Stephen) decided to sell the Beaconlight in March, but continue to run the Oxford Guesthouse. With some trepidation, but an open mind, we maintained our reservations and appeared at the Beaconlight's door in August.
Gone is the warm welcome, hugs, and name recognition received by the previous owners, instead replaced with an air of banal sensibility. The own owner, Mark, tries to be friendly, but is obviously shy. To his credit, he does attempt to make small talk and engage with the guests, and this does sit favorably with the guests within the house. His partner, Keith, is neither shy, nor friendly, and could use some refinement in proper English etiquette. He neither speaks to guests unless directed a question, his conversations are short and curt, and he avoids looking at guests by always dropping his head as he passes.
Gone is the comfortable furniture, replaced instead with Victorian furniture that is as uncomfortable to sit in as it is misplaced within the Beaconlight itself. And the Victorian furnishings are everywhere. The new owners previously owned a brownstone in Washington, D.C. and decided to bring all of their furnishings with them. Jammed into every possible nook and cranny is a Victorian artifact rendering the house feeling cold and unwelcoming.
An example would be the Minot room, whose size is comparable to a walk-in closet, has had a 2nd chest of drawers added, as well as a chair, and an antique bed frame, all of which renders the room cramped for even the most bulimic of guests. Fortunately for such guests, the small refrigerator now resides in the bathroom next to the toilet. Unfortunately, if you are larger than a size 2, you will need to walk on the bed to adjust the air conditioner's settings.
The Chatham room has received a loveseat that now rests at the bottom of the stairs leaving less than 12 inches for Chatham occupants to get from the bed to their bathroom. Thus the occasional late night exclamations from guests who need to use the toilet at 3 a.m. and arrive there rudely awaken with much swollen toes.
In the living room where guests gather, a Victorian table of substantial height resides in the middle draped in detailed floor-length lace and topped with a large green glass vase of fragrant flowers that blocks one's view of any individual seated directly across from them.
Gone is the attention to service: no cocktail hours, no daily baked cookies, no fresh morning goodies baked by the staff, no query as to one's dining itinerary so as to offer the making of dinner reservations, and no inquiry as to your travel needs. (Two guests were arrived by ferry and were delivered to the Beaconlight by one of the former owners who was there to pick up one of his Oxford Guesthouse guests.)
Service has been replaced by new rules: breakfast is from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., don't bring your beach towel into the house, don't go into the kitchen after breakfast, and parking is first come first serve. If the lot is full when you arrive, your $175 - $250/night fee buys you the enjoyment of finding parking on your own. (Keith be damned if he's going to move his red Range Rover from the lot to make room for a guest's vehicle.)
If you arise from your vacationing slumber to attend the morning feast, Keith, who follows like a hawk lunging for prey, tails your breakfast activities closely, and giving you the feeling of "You're making my kitchen a mess. Hurry up and get out!"
While there, one guest took a clean plate, set it on the table while he got coffee, only to have him turn around with the coffee to see his plate had been removed and placed within the dishwasher by Keith. Subsequently, he put down his coffee to get a new plate, and when he returned his coffee was gone.
Gone are the house manager and the 3 house staff (a.k.a. "house boys"). Instead, the owners themselves clean the house along with 2 staff, one of who was fired years prior by the previous owners for reasons uncertain, but surely warranted. During your stay, your bathroom will be cleaned adequately, and your sheets will remain on your bed for the duration of your stay.
Most annoying is the habit of Keith going around the rooms turning off the air conditioning while the guests are out. Thus, upon return, the guests find their rooms quite tepid. In August, when temperatures reach 95 degrees, a warm retreat is not convivial.
Maybe it's the change of owners, the change in environment, the change of services (or lack thereof), or just a constant that has now become variable, but I shall not be returning, which is alright with the new owner Keith, as he has personally stated that repeat business is not important to him. "The telephone rings off the hook. There are plenty of individuals who need a room."
Yes, the Beaconlight is no longer a shining light of welcoming embrace for its brilliance has dimmed and it's appeal lost. I shall instead follow its shadow to the Oxford in hopes of returning to the warmth, charm, and hospitality that once existed within 12 Winthrop Street.