When it comes to Amish Country lodging it doesn't get much better than The Murphin Ridge Inn. I give this gem an "Editor's Choice" recommendation in The Williams Guide to Amish Country because it really is one of the best - if not the best - lodging options in Amish Country (I hedge because the Cherry Creek Inn in New York's Conewango Valley is also awesome). I've written before about my love-hate relationship with bed & breakfasts. Most of the time when I travel I just - as Greta Garbo once famously said - want to be left alone. The singular appeal of a chain motel is that you can come and go when you please in perfect Holiday Inn anonymity. The worst bed & breakfasts - for this grizzled editor - are ones where I'm getting out of bed in my pajamas and padding down the hall - yikes - into someone's house. Or wanting to just eat my cereal in complete peace but a chatty inn-owner talks my ear off before I've ever had my requisite drop of caffeine. The perfect innkeeper is a chameleon that somehow knows which customers want constant hand-holding and conversation and which ones just want to be left alone. That does take genuine skill. The former Murphin Ridge innkeepers, Sherry and Darryl McKenney, were pitch-perfect in handling their guests. I've not stayed at the inn since new owners Jerry and Paula Schutt took over in 2013, but I was happy to drop by last week for a visit. First of all, though, I guess I should clarify: the Murphin Ridge Inn isn't a bed & breakfast in the narrowest sense (which, for me, is a good thing). You're not bunking in the same house with Jerry and Paula. Murphin Ridge Inn is really more of a country inn. One can stay in the "guest house", an inn with 10 rooms, each with private bathrooms or there are cabins, wonderfully outfitted cabins (these are my recommendations) that blend rustic and elegance to perfection. Rachel and I stayed in one of their cabins several years ago as I was on an intense deadline to finish one of my books and the solitude proved to be just what I needed to push the book across the finish line.
The Murphin Ridge Inn exerts a sentimental, powerful pull on me for reasons which I will explain in my upcoming memoir, Not So Simple. The Inn is a mirror reflecting the surrounding seasons: the flaming colors of fall, winter solitude, spring rebirth, and summer solace. Yet as the seasons carousel year after year there's a stoic steadfastness and venerability to the Murphin Ridge Inn. The original building on the property, the one where you check in and eat some amazing meals was built in 1828! Dining in a building that, if it could talk, could chat about the lasts wisps of the Revolution is nothing short of astonishing.
QUICK BITS: New owners Jerry and Paula Schutt bought the inn in 2013. They are farmers and entrepreneurs with roots in Darke and Preble County, Ohio and plan to continue to farm the land that Murphin sits upon. While they've put some of their own touches on the inn (Jerry's smoked ribs have become popular and a brick pizza oven will be added this year), much has been kept the same. The Schuttes have made fast friends with the local Amish community. Some Amish families booked the restaurant for their Christmas dinners this past year, giving the fried chicken a hearty thumbs up. The new hosts seem personable and affable (Paula happily held Aster while I jotted notes and Rachel took photos) and have the share the same reverence for the Ridge that that I do and I think that's a good sign.
AMISH WEEKEND: I recommend Murphin Ridge anytime as the perfect "base" to explore the Adams County Amish settlements and even the nearby ones in Highland County. But if you want a little "extra Amish" in your stay, Murphin Ridge hosts an annual "Amish Weekend" each March and there are still rooms available this year's. Click here for more information.
Here are some other scenes from "Winter on the Ridge":
A cat seeks a sunny spot on one of the first "warm" days of the winter. The second photo looks east toward the high ridges of Adams County. Some christen these hills "The Little Smokies" after their much larger cousins in Tennessee. A ceramic bird keeps watch over winter in the 10-room guesthouse's "common area." While the guesthouse offers the privacy of a traditional hotel, there is a "common area" where you can play games or just sit and read. I once stayed at the Murphin Ridge Inn with Rachel's family (I think our family booked about 7 of the 10 rooms, it is perfect for that type of event or gathering) one late autumn weekend and the commons area was perfect for board games and family bonding. Also, below Chef Josh works in the kitchen. Murphin Ridge's restaurant is open even for non-guests and offers a mouth-melting array of menu items, many with locally sourced produce.