This Five-Inn Boutique Hotel Is New York’s Finger Lakes Region’s Coziest Design-Centric Stay

Nestled in Upstate New York’s pristine Finger Lakes region, the Inns of Aurora Resort & Spa in the charming village of Aurora is an unforgettable wellness experience and lakeside retreat that makes guests feel right at home.

Situated on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, this historical Finger Lakes town is home to the private liberal arts university, Wells College, plus a slew of quaint shops and restaurants. Five beautifully restored 19th-century homes occupy the Inns of Aurora: the traditional Federal-style Aurora Inn, Italianate limestone-clad E.B. Morgan House, cozy & contemporary Rowland House, vibrantly-emblazoned Wallcourt Hall, and the design-forward Zabriskie House.

Restoring the properties chronologically, Pleasant Rowland — educator, journalist, philanthropist, Wells College alumna, and founder of American Girl — first repurposed the earliest 1833-circa Aurora Inn, constructed by Colonel Edwin Barber Morgan. Stately columns and a brick exterior lead to modernized 19th-century interiors: marbled bathrooms, symmetrical antique fireplaces, and rich wood furnishings adorn the ten guestrooms and shared spaces. Ruins from the old-age Grist Mill add to the stay’s rich historical past.

With a limestone Italianate-style stone façade, the former home of E.B. Morgan appears unwelcoming with its Gothic architecture. However, the bright-colored seven-room inn is swathed in punchy orange, pink, and red-hued accents, ornate chandeliers, and contemporary artworks from Rowland’s exquisite collection. Its wraparound outdoor deck, freckled by coral-colored fauna, softens its haughty exterior.

Rowland House, once Pleasant’s Aurora homestead, imbues a chic lakefront essence equipped with an innkeeper who oversees guests’ every need. Playfully-colored motifs meshed with modern art pieces dress the two parlors, private dining space, and ten guestrooms. Its prized third-floor “Whimsy Rooms” are decorated in whimsically-patterned MacKenzie-Childs ceramics from head to toe: room eight boasts hand-painted monochrome checkered walls with an eye-catching floral headboard to boot. 

Perched on a hilltop across the road from E.B. Morgan House, Wallcourt Hall is vibrantly decorated stay: persimmon orange-toned accents, Dalmatian-dotted bathrooms, and hand-woven Italian fabrics cover the cleanly fashioned abode.

Considered the brother property of Rowland House, Zabriskie House is refurbished with cool-toned decor, ranging from deep blue to lime green and white-trimmed upholstery, evoking a lighter, minimalist look that emphasizes the artwork. At the helm of Rainbow Chair — a famed art installation by Patrick Norguet with only one other existing copy in the MoMa — stands prominently in the foyer.

Regarding the holistic experience, the stunning minimalist farmhouse spa situated on 350 acres of serene farmland is ensconced by fragrant lavender fields, providing an all-encompassing wellness journey. Spa-goers can indulge in the facility’s six indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools, meditation lounges, saunas, steam rooms, outdoor patios, and an Ayurveda-inspired treatments menu. We recommend booking the Results-Driven 80-minute treatment, where a professional esthetician performs a detailed consultation to discover your precise skin needs.

Sticking to the homey atmosphere, each dining option serves home-cooked culinary-style dishes and American cuisine classics. Dining at 1883 Kitchen & Bar feels refined, while the Fargo Bar & Grill offers various small bites, alongside cheeseburgers, sandwiches, and salads. At Aurora Cooks, guests sit front-row on Chef Lou Donato’s countertop and observe a top-notch meal cooked right before their eyes.

Needless to say, when it comes to Upstate New York stays, Inns of Aurora is truly a home away from home that’s perfect for some R&R. 

Top Takeaways

Location: Aurora, New York

Address: 391 Main St, Aurora, NY 13026

Rating: Four-Star

The vibe: A historic lakeside retreat that feels like home. 

Food + Drink: Expect an emphasis on farm-to-table style dishes and casual American cuisine. At Fargo Bar & Grill, try the Loaded Tots with bacon, cheddar, green onions, and malt aioli on the side, as it’s a guest-favorite dish. The aforementioned Aurora Cooks and 1183 Kitchen & Bar are tasty choices as well.

Our Favorite Part of the Hotel: A hyper-cozy reading nook inside the sunshine-yellow-painted “Whimsy Room” at Rowland House is the perfect spot to get lost in a good book. Plus, the Grecian temple out back adds a unique historical nod that we love.

Amenities: Spa; Fitness center; Yoga classes; Outoorsmen Guides; Nature trails; Lakefront; Campfire; Restaurants; Bar

What’s Nearby? Cayuga Lake; Wells College; Women’s Rights National Historical Park; Cayuga Lake Wine Trail; MacKenzie-Childs Aurora; Victorian Morgan Opera House

Any personal neighborhood recs? Drive along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the oldest wine trail in the country, for vineyard-tasting spots, lakefront restaurants, and a medley of attractions.

Rooms: 56

Pricing: Rates start at $215/night 

Closest Airport: Syracuse Hancock International Airport

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