Rachael Solem had never even stayed in a hotel, let alone owned one, when she decided to purchase and renovate Irving House, a quaint bed and breakfast in the heart of Cambridge, Mass. Ever since 1990, however, Rachael and her two business partners have provided comfortable, affordable accommodations with a local flair.
Under the operation of Rachael and her partners, the Irving House at Harvard boasts 44 guest rooms renovated to improve comfort and amenities. Guests can choose from a variety of room options, ranging from a single room with a shared bathroom to a spacious family-sized room with a private bathroom. The bed and breakfast also offers long-term accommodations at a nearby house in rooms complete with a private bathroom and kitchenette.
Rachael supports several other local businesses by serving locally made breakfast and snacks to Irving House guests. Additionally, Rachael is the co-chair of Cambridge Local First, a group of locally and independently owned businesses in the Cambridge area. She says she finds it “much more fun, sometimes economical, and surely more rewarding,” to buy locally.
Supporting Irving House means supporting local businesses, but it also means supporting the environment. Rachael buys shampoo, soap and lotion for her guest rooms from eco-friendly companies. Irving House also has a significant recycling program and composts all of its food waste. In 2006, the Irving House was awarded the EPA’s Energy Star for its commitment to environmentally friendly practices. More recently, the bed and breakfast got an environmental face-lift with the installment of solar panels in 2009.
Rachael and the rest of the Irving House team also take a local, personal approach in dealing with guests. “We do what we can for guests, particularly those who are visiting loved ones in one of the hospitals nearby,” she says. “If we can do something to ease difficult situations, we do.” The guesthouse maintains a “giving library” throughout the property, through which guests take and exchange books they like. Rachael says the feeling of community at Irving House also appeals to women traveling alone because it makes them feel safer than being at a large chain hotel.
The local environment of Irving House makes it a great choice for travelers of all kinds. In 2011, the Irving House was awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit the Irving House’s website at www.irvinghouse.com.