Inn for the Night: A Sense of Place

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Mentone’s Raven Haven exudes hospitality and charm, making guests feel right at home.

By ANA AMELIA SA SKELTON

If I were to describe my experience at Raven Haven Bed & Breakfast in one sentence, it would be: “It felt like coming home.”

That in itself means a whole lot to me considering that I am originally from Brazil and have lived in the United States for more than two decades. I feel welcome the moment I arrive at this beautiful and cozy B&B.

After hiking the trails of DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon, I am ready for a good shower and a relaxing evening, and that’s exactly what I get in this elegant inn located in Mentone, Ala.

What a treat it is to meet the hosts! Anthony and Eleanor Teverino moved to Atlanta from New York state in 1978, when Anthony was transferred for his job.

Upon retiring in 1990, they wanted to continue enjoying the Southern friendliness and moved to Mentone.

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When I ask them why they decided to open a bed and breakfast, the answer comes easily to them: “We like to renovate, cook, garden and have company, but didn’t want to open a restaurant.”

Their passions are obvious all around. Breakfast time is a great moment to meet other guests, share stories and savor the cuisine prepared by our talented hosts. I won’t spoil the surprise by describing each of the plates (yes, there are many!), but it’s enough to say that the other guests share my opinion that this meal is better than any we’ve had in other B&Bs.

The gardens on the property are breathtaking. As I walk around the premises, a thought keeps coming to my mind: this is like being in a treasure hunt. An easy one, though, because everywhere I look there are little surprises that show all the time, effort and good taste the Teverinos put into creating and decorating the place.

For example, you can expect to find in the gardens some boots cleverly turned into flower pots, a funny face decoration on a tree and the inside of a piano turned into an art piece, among other things.

The Teverinos have created several garden areas with different themes that invite you to sit, enjoy the view, contemplate life, meditate or just relax. One of my favorites is the “Gnome Sweet Gnome” garden.

I also enjoy the one with the manmade pond and the one made with their grandchildren in mind. They certainly have “a green thumb.” There are so many types of flowers and plants that I honestly cannot name them all.

One interesting and pretty white flower in particular catches my attention, and Eleanor tells me it is called angel’s trumpet. Within a few minutes of walking around the yard and taking a great number of pictures, I know I am going to have to paint several of these scenes.

Being early November, Eleanor explains to me that many of their recurrent guests expect to see their charming Christmas decorations, and they are glad to oblige. The house is beautifully adorned with delightful holiday decorations, which include a unique Christmas tree in each of the four guest bedrooms.

I stay in the upper Nautical Room. It is the biggest of the four guest bedrooms. Some things that catch my attention right away are how spacious and charming the room is, and the pleasant aroma that fills it.

On the bed, I find a lovely, handwritten note (which I still have and treasure), a piece of chocolate and an interesting book. I dutifully indulge in a pleasant read right before bed.

Another unexpected pleasure of my stay in Raven Haven is the long and enjoyable conversations I have with Eleanor and Anthony. Eleanor explains to me that Mentone reminds her of “the green and quietness of Northern Ireland. It’s just peaceful and beautiful, and you will always want to come back because the spirit of the mountain calls you back,” she says.

Once I learn she is from Ireland I become very curious about her personal story, not only because I am not originally from the United States, but also because my own grandparents immigrated from Europe to Brazil. It is fascinating to hear about people’s life journeys.

Anthony agrees.

“The thing that makes this business worthwhile is the people,” he says. “We feel like we are doing a service they need.”

I can certainly attest that they are providing a great service to their guests, from their friendliness and eagerness to accommodate our needs to the comfort of the inn and the delicious homemade breakfasts.

I will always cherish my stay at Raven Haven and can’t wait to go back.

Learn more about Raven Haven Bed & Breakfast at ravenhavenbandb.info.

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