LeCLAIRE – When folks in LeClaire say “Be our guest,” they mean it. You can tell by the number of guest houses and apartments that stay busy with visitors – and many Quad-City area residents, too -- who want to enjoy LeClaire and the Quad-Cities in general.
Cindy Bruhn, tourism manager at the LeClaire Information Center, said the concept of a “guest house” is either a complete apartment or an entire house. “It’s not a bed and breakfast,” she said, although some locations do offer food baskets.
“Many of them have laundry facilities, so that makes it great for an extended stay,” Bruhn said.
Heidi Holst and her husband, Bob, (Holst Trucking and Excavating) started the first one with the LeClaire River Loft in 2010, after they stayed in a guest house in Streator, Illinois.
"It was really cool," Heidi Holst said. She appreciated the privacy and convenience of the furnished apartment.
"I thought, oh my gosh, LeClaire needs something like this."
And so it was the LeClaire River Loft opened in 2010. Soon after, the Holsts bought the LeClaire River Chateau. She no longer owns the locations, but they continue as guest houses.
Now they're among the guest-house locations that have become an attraction in themselves.
Also, “LeClaire has become less of a day trip and more of a destination,” Bruhn said, adding heritage travel and tourism has become popular.
At Grasshoppers Guest House, proprietor Kim Collier says guests enjoy the color schemes – including an airy, bright bedroom with floral designs and even a pink rose-shaped pillow.
“It’s usually groups that want to stay here,” Collier said. Summer isn't the only busy season: “Fall’s a wonderful time,” she said. “People love their fall drives.”
“It’s cost effective,” she said. “If you’ve got six people it’s much cheaper than renting three hotel rooms.”
An appealing black-and-white kitchen is a great place for guests to gather. There’s a great view of the Mississippi River from the deck.
“My repeat business is huge,” Collier said.
Cecilia O’Brien, Wide River Winery Inn innkeeper, said people enjoy the privacy and space of a furnished bedroom apartment that boasts a full kitchen as well as a washer and dryer. Plus it’s close to the Friday night music in the courtyard, “And they love the invitation to sample the wine,” she said.
O’Brien also is the party planner for groups that use the site for special events at the inn.
The Wide River Winery Inn is among the guest houses listed on Airbnb, an online service that began in 2008 when two designers with space to share hosted three travelers looking for a place to stay. (Now, millions of travelers and hosts use it worldwide.)
In addition to online reviews, guests can submit star ratings on
• Overall experience.
• Arrival. How smoothly did their check-in go?
• Location. How did guests feel about the neighborhood?
A guest who stayed at the inn earlier this month said “Great place and amazing location! Perfect for a fun little getaway. Apartment is spacious and clean! You are right in the hustle and bustle of downtown, which is perfect for walking to all your destinations.”
The Airbnb listing for Paws & Relax Guest Suite, another LeClaire guest house, says 100 percent of recent guests gave the location a five-star rating to the guest suite a block and a half up from the historic downtown, convenient to shopping, restaurants, a distillery and brewery-all within walking distance. It features one bedroom with a queen bed, common spaces, a couch and an air mattress, and has toys, a bed and water bowl for the dogs, as well as doggie bags and a trash can outside.
“Another great stay! We love having this option so we can travel with our pets,” said one visitor.
Here's a list of guest houses in LeClaire and contact numbers:
• Captain’s Quarters in Old Mill House, 419 N. Cody Road. 309-314-7702.
• Grasshoppers' Guest House, 303 S. 2nd St. 563-289-4652.
• Grasshoppers’ Too Guest House, 220 N. Cody Road. 563-289-4652.
• LeClaire River Chateau, 402 N. Cody Road, 563-320-2991,
• LeClaire River Loft, 114 N. Cody Road. 563-320-2991.
• Old Mill Guest House, 419 N. Cody Road, 309-314-7702.
• Paws & Relax Guest House, 200 Jones St., 563-726-2524.
• Pelican’s Crossing, 26838 229th St., 563-289-3410.
• Wide River Winery Inn, 106 N. Cody Road. 954-242-6878.