Best Bed & Breakfast - 2010
The Beall Mansion
Host Jim Belote greets guests in a tux and tails when they pull up to the portico of the Beall Mansion, nestled in Alton's Millionaire's Row. He'll give you a history lesson, if you'd like. (It's a sordid history, really, best told by Belote.) And the Beall offers more than breakfast. "Bed and Graze" is a better term. The dining room features a 24-hour chocolate and hot-beverage buffet. An antique wooden buffet holds crystal tiers and dishes filled with everything from dark-chocolate-drenched fruit to Hershey's Kisses. The hot beverages include the inn's own line of fair-trade, organic teas and sometimes treats like warm chocolate-chip cookies or cake appear on the dining-room table for guests — perhaps the work of Alton's infamous spirit world, or perhaps that of hostess Sandy Belote. Whether you've been out exploring the Mississippi or snuggled into one of the mansion's many nooks, balconies or porches, finish the day with a complimentary Cognac nightcap, served in the reading room from cut crystal glasses, which can make even river rats feel like the Victorian upper crust.