Benjamin Ellis House offers casual luxury in New Bern, North Carolina

by Aug 16, 2022North Carolina

Benjamin Ellis House New Bern Suite NC

New Bern, North Carolina, is a darling city worthy of a stopover to experience small town charm on the Neuse River. We’d recommend you stay at the Benjamin Ellis House, a spectacular historic inn that gives travelers comfortable, centrally located lodging for a walkable visit.

The Benjamin Ellis House in New Bern, North Carolina, has all you could ask for in a small casual luxury inn: history, friendly owners, community spaces for lounging or games, a hot home-cooked breakfast, plus snacks, and beverages available all day, and a location that is smack-dab in the center of a charming small town. Just park your car and get to every in-town sight on foot.

Owners Tracy and Gretchen DuPeza bring an international touch to the North Carolina inn, which is part of the goal. They had lived in Germany and Switzerland for many years for work (not in the hospitality industry, mind you, but high-tech). They became the third owners of the Benjamin Ellis House in 2016 and started a range of renovations to keep the historic charm while adding modern refinements and updating many areas of the inn that had been a bit neglected. Today, it has a refined but definitely not stuffy feel.

New Bern Historic Inn Front Porch

There are eight spacious rooms, including two on the ground floor and six on the first floor including two large King suites. Our Tallulah Suite (photo at top) felt like a snuggly cocoon, and although it was facing the street it remained quiet, allowing for gratefully deep sleep on a luxury king bed – just what travelers really want in a hotel, right? A little room to move about and to sleep well in a clean space.

“I wanted to bring a little bit of Switzerland here,” said Gretchen. “We wanted it to be ‘gemutlich.’”

Super cozy and refined casual lodging at the Benjamin Ellis inn

The Benjamin Ellis House, circa 1853, is certainly cozy, although you first must get your bearings in a house with four hallways and two staircases with both Queen Anne and Greek Revival architecture. You may find yourself a time or two doing laps around the upstairs or downstairs to find your way to where you were going. Which is OK since it’s not really a large place. A full-length front porch with sitting areas is another place to hang out and watch the world of New Bern go by.

Benjamin Ellis House Living Room

A cozy living room invites chatting with other guests.

The two have really worked to think of everything for travelers staying at the Benjamin Ellis House: There are jigsaw puzzles and other games waiting for your enjoyment; a living area has enough seating for a small group but could still offer places for a tete-a-tete; seating in various corners are little hideaways; a “snack area” off the kitchen in the back offers all-day coffee (with a European-style machine), tea, sodas and water, as well as homemade cookies each day and other nibbles such as granola bars or fruit. Plus, the small fridge serves as a place for guests to stash their own beverages or leftovers and snacks.

Snacks And Coffee At Benjamin Ellis House

The snack area with fresh baked cookies, various chips and energy bars, tea, and yes, a European-style coffee maker that makes divine brews.

Rooms keep their casual luxury feel but still feature smart televisions, USB charging stations, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, high-end bath amenities, and ceiling fans. We especially appreciated room-darkening window shades and the Benjamin Ellis House’s spotless interior.

The décor, too, is a fun by not kitschy mix of modern and historic furniture. As Gretchen noted, they “pillaged” estate sales and flea markets during remodeling looking for just the right items that would not be too frou-frou but still maintain the historic touch.

New Bern Historic Inn Hallway

An upstairs hallway offers more cozy seating.

Oh, and the breakfast! Gretchen was a hobby cook who has taken it to the next level. It is a sit-down three-course affair with a hot main, sides of fruit, and serve-yourself juices with home-baked goodies. Our Benjamin Ellis breakfast was a vegetable quiche, with a side of fresh cut fruit, and perfectly done bacon, while the starter was something called “Bircher Muesli” in German-speaking countries. That is basically overnight oats with fresh fruit that has been soaked in milk, cream or fruit juice to make it tender.

Benjamin Ellis New Bern Breakfast

Although we didn’t have time to indulge in the other offerings, the inn also has a menu of cooking classes, candlelight dinners, and walking tours to help a traveler in New Bern have a great, relaxed stay.

Most visitors to New Bern – and thus at the Benjamin Ellis House — are from North Carolina but we think others are missing out since there is so much to do and see in the New Bern area, as well as just relaxing and enjoying the historic town and waterfront. The DuPezas came to New Bern because of its friendly small-town charm after they moved back from Europe, but also find appealing the history (it was the first capital of North Carolina), deeply rooted African-America heritage, and waterfront. And who doesn’t want to stay in the only hotel or inn to date to earn a perfect score from the HI Travel Tales duo? Take a peek below at our review score.

Benjamin Ellis New Bern owners Tracy and Gretchen DuPeza

Tracy and Gretchen DuPeza sitting on the front steps of the inn and porch — not their usually lounging about when they do everything themselves.

Disclosure: Michael and Therese were fully hosted at the Benjamin Ellis House. The review, opinions and ratings here are our own, and are not approved, provided, or otherwise endorsed or influenced by the hotel or Visit New Bern.

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Rating the Benjamin Ellis House in New Bern


Our Rating Our hotel ratings will tell you what we think of an individual property and are not a comparison to other hotels in the area. They are valid at the time of our visit, which in this case was still affected by COVID-19 safety protocols. That typically means no daily housekeeping and in some cases limitations on meal service. We frequently pay for our hotel stays and will disclose whenever we receive discounts or comped room nights as a part of a hotel stay. Our ratings are a percent, with 100% being perfect and 0% someplace not even a rat would stay. We rate cleanliness/upkeep (e.g. dust on the windows, dirt under the beds, unclean bathroom fixtures, need of repairs/maintenance, etc.), comfort (e.g. taking into account quiet, how comfy the bed is, if there is a nice robe, a comfy chair, etc.), amenities (e.g. free parking, breakfast included and its quality, free Wi-Fi, free bikes, fitness gear, workout room, pool, etc. -- and we are not fans of hotels that say they include things, but then charge a facilities fee!), location (e.g. how easy is it to get around by foot, bike, and car), and value (e.g. how much we feel we got in return for the amount charged or the amount we would have been charged).