The Parsonage named sixth best B&B in the world
ABOVE: A vignette of blue and white pottery and silver serving pieces displayed in the dining room.
BELOW: The Parsonage was once a school. The 1915 list of school rules was left behind.
ABOVE: Michael Rivkin, standing, and Jeffri Coleman, owners of The Parsonage, in the library of their historic residence. BELOW: Bird sculptures abound at The Parsonage, such as in Elinor’s Room. KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS
Carbon County can now lay claim to a world-class bed-and-breakfast.
The Parsonage, located in the historic section of Jim Thorpe, has been ranked not only the top B&B in Jim Thorpe by TripAdvisor, it has been ranked the second best in the United States and the sixth best in the world.
Let that sink in.
In fact, The Parsonage was the only B&B located in the U.S. to make it into the top 10 best inns and B&Bs worldwide in TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice Awards, which were announced late last month.
Innkeepers Michael Rivkin and Jeffri Coleman have been around the world several times and have stayed in dozens, if not hundreds, of inns and B&Bs, so they’ve picked up a thing or two from their experiences. Rivkin has also enjoyed a long career as a hospitality quality assurance inspector and trainer for a major hotel chain, so it’s no surprise that the attention to detail at The Parsonage is second to none.
“A lot of what we’ve learned is not what to do,” says Rivkin, “but what not to do.”
“It’s not about what we want.”
Rivkin and Coleman met in culinary school at the Hotel Hershey in 1978. They purchased The Parsonage in April 2016, fully furnished. Nine days later they cleared it of all but about six things, brought in their own furniture, art, dishes, etc., and welcomed their first guests.
Coleman is the head chef, creating menus featuring the freshest local ingredients, paired with homemade jams, syrups and garnishes. He’s assisted by Rivkin, who handles the bulk of the hospitality duties, such as serving guests. Their dog, Pearl, makes the place feel like home.
Breakfast at The Parsonage isn’t just a full-course meal, it’s an experience.
With farm-to-table cuisine, The Parsonage has drifted from the typical B&B breakfast and embraced “spa cuisine.” Calling their offerings Coal Cracker Spa Cuisine with a nod to the region’s roots, they offer a healthier option.
Instead of leaning on breads, muffins and scones, breakfast begins with an amuse-bouche, which is literally translated as “mouth amuser,” and is often used to denote an appetizer.
Amuse-bouche at The Parsonage is a tiny pastry, such as rugelach filled with fragrant rose-petal jam, or puff pastry filled with tiny slices of glazed apple sprinkled with chopped almond.
Served warm from the oven, Rivkin delivers these tasty mouthfuls to each place setting at the communal dining table as the first pair of feet descend the stairs.
Next perhaps, baked yogurt, a dish Rivkin and Coleman enjoyed for breakfast each morning when traveling through India, or maybe a fig-infused cold yogurt with homemade granola and fresh fruit.
The main course could be souffle or bread pudding, layered with flavor. Whatever it is, your taste buds will be singing.
And while none of that may sound particularly “health conscious,” the serving sizes are smaller, but no less satisfying.
“We don’t do huge portions,” said Coleman.
“We get a lot of young guests,” said Rivkin. “Millennials want to be exploring. We’re big on promotion of not just the town, but of the whole region.”
And people who are biking, hiking, rafting or exploring don’t want big, heavy breakfasts.
That experience is also what Coleman and Rivkin are certain is responsible for their high TripAdvisor ratings.
“We’re not a destination,” said Coleman. “People come for the entire experience — the pubs, restaurants, shops, museums, the Old Jail, the opera house. Everyone loves the train. We love when they take our suggestions.”
It’s common for Coleman and Rivkin to send guests off to the #9 Mine Museum or to Eckley Village. They also suggest that on the way back, guests may want to stop at Lengyel’s for some of the area’s best pierogies.
If you like the pear cider they serve, they’ll send you to the Emerald Pear Orchard. Fan of the coffee or tea you had at breakfast? They’ll direct you to Morghan Rake Coffee Roasters in Effort for a pound of Sway’s Blend or one of the specialty teas she sells.
The Parsonage features four guest rooms. A suite on the ground floor is named for the young woman who wrote her name on the doorway (It’s still there!) in 1872, Margaret Webster, whose father, the Rev. Richard Webster, was the original parson to occupy the home.
On the third floor are the three remaining guest rooms, William’s Room, John’s Room and Elinor’s Room, which is so named for the portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt (yes, the spelling is different) that hangs there.
Each room includes a private bath. There is also a coffee bar in the suite and on the third floor so that guests don’t need to ascend or descend stairs if they want some coffee or tea.
Like each room of The Parsonage, guest rooms are decorated with original art, from paintings, to sculptures and carvings, to various collections.
No matter where you look, there is always something interesting and wonderful to see.
And while Coleman and Rivkin insist The Parsonage is “not a destination,” the number of returning guests seems to dispute that.
So while freshly ironed sheets, delectable breakfasts, and top-tier entertainment and adventure are a definite draw, it’s the innkeepers who are mentioned in every one of a large sampling of the nearly 300 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor.
As proof, here are a few lines from the B&B’s last review of 2018:
“Good luck getting out of your cozy dreamy bed ... except for the breakfast that awaits you! Just when you think Michael and Jeffri have done it all ... just wait till you taste the breakfast. Every course is created with brilliant skill and dare I say love ... I can go on and on ... just please, for God’s sake go. You will never go anywhere else. We are already booking our next stay!”
That certainly seems to sum up The Parsonage experience.
Want to see more? Go to tnonline.com for a photo gallery of The Parsonage.