The Londoner offers a taste of England
SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER
From left, John, Christina and
Jennifer Taylor welcome guests to The Londoner.
Just like people, homes become more interesting with age, the experience of living reflected on both faces and walls. So when you find a house with character accumulated over 80 years of living, it’s hard not to become intrigued. At least it was for Jennifer and John Taylor.
For eight years they and their daughter, Christina, lived in Manatee County and operated a beach resort on Longboat Key. They sold the resort with the intention of returning to London permanently. However, in a matter of just a few months the Taylor family found themselves back on a plane headed for the United States, and as they drove over the Skyway Bridge, they realized they were really home.
One day while driving through the lovely old streets in downtown Bradenton, John Taylor saw a for sale by owner sign in front of a large corner home that needed some serious tender loving care. Jennifer Taylor took one look at the dining room with built-in cupboards and envisioned a British bed and breakfast serving authentic high tea and lunch.
The house, built in 1926, presented the usual old house problems and then some, but the Taylors bought it, moved in and started bringing it up to date while still keeping the original charm. They opened for business in April 2008, and the transformation is truly spectacular, encompassing six English-themed guest rooms, all with private bath on the two upper levels. On the main level, the Taylors restored the wrap-around porch and the lovely entry foyer and stairway. There is a sitting room for guests off the main foyer and further back in the house are the tea rooms. The entire feel of The Londoner is formal without being stuffy, a gracious old world sanctuary.
Guest rooms are equipped with flat screen cable televisions and two remotes, Wi-Fi, fluffy robes, 600 thread count linens and imported toiletries. Breakfast is, of course, included and they are currently running a summer special of $99 per night except for July 4. Jennifer bakes the special English treats and Jill Baker, who lives on-site, takes care of the guests’ breakfast and other menu items.
The Londoner is also a special place for private dinner parties, showers and rehearsal dinners. The Taylors have hosted many weddings where the entire house can be taken over for the event. Guests can bring their own wine, champagne and other adult refreshments and The Londoner will not charge a corking fee.
Even if you’re not a guest at The Londoner, you can come in and enjoy their teas and lunches. Traditional English Tea is $16 per person and includes a pot of tea, finger sandwiches, cakes, scones with jam, lemon curd and Devonshire clotted cream. There are other tea selections to choose from as well as sandwiches, homemade soups and lunch specials daily.
There is plenty of on-site parking and you’re within walking distance of the Manatee River, the Twin Dolphin Marina, the main library, The Manatee Players Theater and restaurants. It’s a great place to stay if you’re in town on business, visiting a friend or relative at the Westminster Towers or Shores or are on vacation. The Taylors will provide you with information about Manatee County, beach chairs, beach towels or a picnic lunch. In addition, in an effort to support our soldiers, the Taylors donate gift certificates for a night’s stay at The Londoner through the Manatee Operation Troop Support (MOTS) organization.
During the renovation, someone stopped their car and said to Jennifer, "Thank you for breathing life into a beautiful old house." The Londoner B & B and Tea Room has certainly done its part to bring new life to downtown Bradenton. Stop in for a breath of fresh air in the British tradition.
Bed & Breakfast & Tea Rooms
304 15th St. W.,
Tea Room hours:
Monday through Saturday
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.