Downtown Leavenworth thrives on crowds of tourists eager for a taste of Bavaria.
But the constant parade of camera-toting window-shoppers can be overwhelming.
Luckily, relief is only two blocks away, just past a grand stone gateway topped with concrete lions.
Here, at Haus Lorelei, proprietress Elisabeth Saunders helps guests remember that they came to the Cascades to relax.
“We’re like a little resort,” Saunders says with an authentic German accent (she immigrated when she was 21). “Even if 30,000 people are in town, we hardly know it.”
That’s because almost everything you and your family need is close at hand - a combination tennis-basketball court, handsome pool table, board games galore, a hot tub and 10 comfortable rooms, half of which enjoy a cliff-top view of the Wenatchee River.
The residence was built in 1903 as a summer cottage for lumber company executives. From 1922 to 1985 it served as a private residence. During that time, a basement was blasted out of the bedrock, and a second story was added, with wide, Norwegian-style eyebrow dormers.
Financially strapped after her husband’s death, Saunders and her five young children opened their doors to guests in 1985, and gradually created this cozy, destination-quality bed-and-breakfast inn overlooking the river and Leavenworth’s city park.
Saunders says the name Lorelei refers to a legend about a sirenlike woman who distracted boatmen at a tricky bend in the Rhine River. Just below Haus Lorelei is a Wenatchee River rapid that often gets the best of rafters.
Rooms at the inn are named after tales from the brothers Grimm. Some - “Rotkappchen” (“Little Red Riding Hood”) and “Schneewittchen” (“Snow White”) - are familiar, thanks to Disney animators.
The room in which my wife and I stayed - “The Sandman” - may require an explanation, which Saunders will gladly provide. The room itself is a high-ceilinged, eight-sided sanctuary with private bath and a massive four-poster bed. The two-step stool for climbing into bed reminded us of another Grimm fairy tale - “Prinzessin auf der Erbse” (“The Princess and the Pea”).
Rooms are $89 and $99, and reservations are recommended. For more information, call (509) 548-6548 or visit the inn’s Web site at hauslorelei.com.