Rated as one of America’s top ten most romantic inns and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Buhl Mansion is an ideal spot for a romantic weekend, especially for people located in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The majestic entrance at the Buhl Mansion Guesthouse and Spa impresses with Richardsonian Romanesque grandeur. Steel magnate Frank H. Buhl built the late 19th century mansion in the center of Sharon, PA as a wedding present for wife Julia. But like many of our history’s grandest treasures, the mansion fell into disrepair and neglect. Fortunately, through the efforts of the Winner family, that grandeur has been lovingly restored. Now, the opulent bed and breakfast provides a wonderful luxury destination and a romantic gateway to the charming town of Sharon.
Just seventy-five miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Sharon was once a booming steel city that became less relevant after the end of the industrial revolution. Though the city is now experiencing an economic revitalization with the return of artists and small businesses, the Buhl Mansion still stands out as a jewel in the city’s landscape.
We wondered what to expect while we navigated the winding roads toward the once glorious village in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Upon approaching the grand property, we immediately noticed the mansion’s antique brick architecture and neo-baroque sculptural embellishments as we drove under an arched driveway that separates the main house from its ornate gallery of meticulous replicas.
Before we could even turn off our car, the attentive staff rushed out to warmly greet us and whisk away our bags. Walking through the door, we couldn’t help but notice a gallery of world-class art and decoration. Works by Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas and Picasso seemed to adorn the mansion’s walls. As world travelers who have seen our share of priceless art, we knew that these pieces were not original works but meticulously duplicated replicas.
This art makes the Buhl mansion’s main floor especially charming. Imagine enjoying afternoon tea service or a tasty breakfast accompanied by some of the world’s most beautiful art treasures. Let’s face it – a person can’t really relax and have a meal and tea in the middle of the Orsay in Paris; however, this is perfectly acceptable and expected at the Buhl Mansion.
As part of our welcoming tour, we eventually arrived at our suite on the mansion’s enormous third floor. Between the plush king sized bed and the intimate seating area perched in front of a toasty fireplace as well as the hot tub for two, we knew we would enjoy a special getaway that would transport us from the hustle and bustle of our daily life. The third floor originally functioned as the house’s grand ballroom but, in a prudent and intelligent move, it now houses the bed and breakfast’s grandest suites.
Hotel Rooms at the Buhl Mansion
Each of the ten rooms at this luxury hotel is uniquely decorated in a way to retain as much of the original character and charm as possible. We stayed in the Grand Gables room, which happens to be the largest suite in the hotel. Originally part of the ballroom, Grand Gables lives up to its name with its 15 foot gabled ceiling, cosy sitting area and fireplace. Despite the historic features, the room is ultra comfortable with modern amenities like a flat screen TVs and free wi-fi. Oh, in case you forgot, there’s a jacuzzi for two en suite.
Exploring the Buhl Mansion
As tempting as it is to stay in the elegant yet comfortable rooms, half of the fun of staying at the Buhl Mansion is exploring the premises. In addition to displaying impressionist painting replicas, the hotel is also filled with a myriad of collectible items and curiosities, many of which date back to the 1890s. Though these pieces were not owned by the Buhl family, they fit right into the mansion’s fabric. There is also a full-service spa on property, just a short walk down one flight of stairs.
High Tea at the Buhl Mansion
We first experienced high tea as a couple in Hong Kong. High tea at the Buhl Mansion was yet another memorable high tea experience for us. Of course we enjoyed the full selection of teas and various tasty tidbits. Most of all, though, we enjoyed chatting about the mansion’s glorious history with the hotel’s general manager Laura Ackley as we sipped tea out of the elegant, purposefully mismatched china.
Breakfast at the Buhl Mansion
We like to eat when we travel. Who doesn’t?! So, the made-to-order breakfast was a highlight of our stay. After we made our breakfast selections and chose where to dine (the sunny breakfast room instead of breakfast in bed), all we had to do the next morning was show up with our appetites and enjoy the most important meal of the day.
Where to Eat in Sharon
In addition to having pizza delivered to the room, there are several worthy dining options to consider in Sharon. The hotel offers limousine service for a multi-course dinner at their nearby sister property, Tara. As for us, we opted to check out the local restaurant scene.
Donna’s Diner is a retro 1950’s style eatery that specializes in hamburgers and milkshakes. In addition to serving satisfying comfort food, the restaurant also serves up a generous portion of kitsch with every plate.
Haitian Sensation is a surprising gem of an ethnic restaurant. The cafe’s deceptively simple food is made with complex flavors and spices straight from the tropical island namesake. As an added bonus, all of the restaurant’s profits are used to help impoverished people in Haiti.
Daffin’s Candies is within spitting distance of the mansion and has a plethora of old-fashioned and new-fangled candies to satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths.
The Buhl Mansion – A Magical Oasis
For us, visiting the Buhl Mansion was a restorative experience that gave us the relaxation that we needed after a challenging day on the road. In addition to providing us with the chance to rest and recharge, it also got us excited for all of the cool experiences that lie ahead as we start our epic journey to taste the world. The Buhl Mansion is a truly magical oasis in the heart of Pennsylvania, and we couldn’t have kicked off our adventure anywhere better.
The Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spas is located at 422 East State Street, Sharon, PA 16146, United States. Reservations can be made over the phone (866-345-2845) or on the hotel’s website.
We thank the fine folks at the Buhl Mansion Guesthouse and Spa and Select Registry for facilitating our stay for the purpose of this review.