Of all the quaint inns I’ve visited across the world, few compare to Snug Hollow Bed and Breakfast, a tranquil, eco-friendly place nestled into the hills and woods of the eastern Kentucky Appalachians.Located in the rural countryside near Irvine and Berea, Kentucky, Snug Hollow is indeed snugly situated in a valley-like area between two hills with a stream trickling through it, called a “hollow” (and pronounced “holler” in this neck of the woods).

Snug Hollow has a number of sunny nooks and sitting areas to read or visit with other guests. ©Laurel Kallenbach

The organic farm also  boasts 300 acres of babbling creeks, glorious wildflowers, wooded mountainside hikess, and the simplicity and peace of country life. Snug Hollow is a wonderful place to fall asleep to the sound of the cicadas, to the rustle of tree branches in the breeze, or to the sound of soft rainfall on the roof.

Snug Hollow’s owner and innkeeper, Barbara Napier, focuses on all things local, whether it’s food from her organic garden, books by Kentucky authors on the sunroom bookshelves, or crafts from regional artisans. Barbara has decorated with a charming mix of antiques and Appalachian crafts with a homey feeling.

Appalachian instruments, hand made in the region, are often used when local musicians come to play in Snug Hollow’s living room. ©Laurel Kallenbach

And indeed, sinking into the downy bed of the Pearl Room, I’m nostalgic for my childhood and delighted to be back in Kentucky, the state where I lived the first 13 years of my life. There are fresh-cut forsythia and cherry blossoms in vases on the antique dressers (I visited in April), and the night-time hoots of a barred owl and frogs croaking in the brook. Outside, the sky is a firmament of stars invisible in the city.

Music of Nature

In the dewy morning, I pull on my cozy, terry-cloth robe, grab some coffee, and sit in a rocker on my private balcony, which is just at tree level—perfect for bird-watching. I spot a red cardinal, Kentucky’s state bird, and get nostalgic. Cardinals don’t usually migrate to Colorado, where I live now, so it’s been a blue moon since I’ve seen one of these beauties.

Early in the day, the birdsongs are a literal symphony of chirps and twitters. Goldfinches flit at eye level in the treetops. An olive-and-grey Eastern phoebe catches an insect from it perch.

With the help of a bird-identification book and the binoculars in my bedroom, I identify a tufted titmouse, Eastern bluebirds, chickadees and a kingbird. In the field below, a tom turkey gobbles and displays his full tail feathers to the seemingly disinterested hens.

A guest cabin at Snug Hollow ©Laurel Kallenbach

“I fall in love with this place all over again every day,” says Barbara of the natural and homemade beauty of her farm and B&B. And I can see why. I’ve fallen in love with Snug Hollow B&B too during my all-too-brief stay. And though I’m a little sad when it’s time to leave, I take comfort knowing I’ll be back someday. This is one place too special not to revisit.

Barbara Napier on the porch of the historic guest cabin ©Laurel Kallenbach

What makes Snug Hollow environmentally sound:

  • Recycling and composting
  • Food is local and organic, and most of it comes from Barbara’s on-site garden
  • Passive solar heating and wood fire (wood from the property)
  • Farmhouse built from salvaged materials
  • Restoration of historic cabin (now a guest house)
  • Polite signs in thebathrooms reminding guests to conserve water by taking short showers and flushing the toilet only when necessary

Laurel Kallenbach, writer and editor

You can cook organic farm-fresh cuisine like that served at Snug Hollow. Barbara Napier has published a cookbook, Hot Food and Warm Memories: A Cookbook from Snug Hollow Farm Bed & Breakfast.

Originally published February 2009

The scarecrow guards the organic vegetable garden. ©Laurel Kallenbach



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