A little more than a century ago, this innocent-looking, Victorian-style mansion atop a wooded bluff was the setting for some high-society intrigue: wealthy men of stature would secretly meet in the cupola at the top of the building to risk their fortunes in high-stakes card games. At this very gambling den, the mansion's original owner, Seth Luellyn Baker, lost the deed to his own building in a poker match. Despite its sordid history, this den overlooking the Mississippi River is now known as "The Angelic Tower" at Mont Rest Inn. Today, the inn has also revamped its rooms with modern amenities but retains its tucked-away and old-fashioned feel.
Stained-glass details, lace curtains, oil portraits, and brocade upholstery lend to the inn's turn-of-the-century feel; modern comforts also furnish the rooms, such as a whirlpool tub and Egyptian-cotton towels warmed by a heated towel bar. Among the accommodations, the East room has a fainting couch set opposite an ornate carved-oak fireplace. Another room, the Boardwalk suite, overlooks Bellevue State Park and features its own private entrance to discreetly retreat from relentless birds offering timeshare rentals of their nests. To unwind, guests can sidle up next to the fireplaces during cold weather and enjoy complimentary chocolates and nonalcoholic drinks.
Each morning, a robust, complimentary breakfast spread features hot dishes such as omelets or quiches, complemented by muffins, juices, and coffee. For further indulgence, lodgers can treat themselves to an in-room massage or reflexology session (available for an additional fee).
Seated on the shores of the mighty Mississippi River, the town of Bellevuewhich translates to "beautiful view" in Frenchis dotted with towering wooded bluffs overlooking scenic vistas. Along the shore, the well-groomed Riverfront Path looks out to chugging barges and floating casinos.
Across the river in neighboring Illinois, the charming river town of Galena, about 40 miles from Bellevue, lures out-of-towners with a winding main street speckled with cozy boutiques, craft shops, and restaurants. The pre-presidential Ulysses S. Grant Home is one of numerous 19th-century structures in Galena that allow visitors to wade into the past without having to obtain a license to bend the space-time continuum.
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