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Looking for us? We're Gone by the Wayside

High-rise hotels with city views are an exciting way to get away. Every now and again, though, the only way to truly relax is to escape the excitement and embrace the peace and quiet that comes with a measure of solitude. When you feel the need to step away from the bustle, consider Wayside Inn Bed and Breakfast. Located in Ellicott City, this six-bedroom historic home features three well-appointed rooms and three spacious suites.

The inn was acquired just one year ago by Jo Xu and his business partner. Xu, a twelve-year information technology professional, was looking for a career change that would provide a more flexible schedule and remove some of the pressure inherent in an IT environment. Now, he finds joy in catering to every need of his guests – right down to preparing some of the delicious, traditional meals that visitors have come to expect over the inn’s history.

The previous owner held the property for more than 20 years, and he shared some of those recipes with Xu, including some of the most popular dishes – which appear on their website – such as Baked Grapefruit, Grand Marnier French Toast, and Wayside Inn Cranberry Orange Croissant Souffle. Xu says he loves cooking and takes pride in presenting an impressive meal. “Nothing is too complicated if you really want to learn,” he says.

While Xu has only owned the inn for a year, the history of the home dates back to 1750. Local historians suggest that it was one of the first inns in Howard County – once Ann Arundel County. Robert and Charlotte Hartkopf, prominent Ellicott City restaurateurs, purchased it in 1963. They renovated the property and sought and received the first historical designation awarded to the house. The home has had four owners since then.

The Wayside is known for the candles that remain in the windows, leading some to speculate on their origins. The truth is, the Hartkopfs kept candles in the windows as a nod to the old English tradition that marks the house as a public place where travelers can stop and rest. It used to be that each of the building’s 35 windows bore a candle at all hours. Now, the candles are reserved for the bedroom windows, and they are extinguished when the rooms are occupied with a new visitor.

Columbia Lifestyle recently sent a staff member to visit the inn, and she stayed in the plush Banneker Room suite, with its blue and cream décor, is a plush glimpse into a time gone by. The four-poster rice bed is queen sized and so tall that it requires the provided step to get into it! Between the cozy wood-burning fireplace, the spacious jetted tub, and the rainfall showerhead, our reviewer was pleasantly surprised that a centuries-old inn could provide a resort-like experience.

The breakfast, prepared by Xu, came in courses. To start, he served a scrumptious bowl of fresh fruit doused in sweet yogurt. A variety of coffees, teas, and juices were offered before the next course: a coffee cake-like pastry with raisins, crispy bacon, and fresh fruit. The portions were plentiful, and the food was beautifully plated. Guests choose from two breakfast times too meet their needs.  

The Wayside grounds feature a picturesque pond surrounded by woods that have recently been dusted with a coating of powdery snow. The inn is open year-round, but their busiest seasons are in the summer and around the Christmas holidays, where the home’s halls are decked with festive trees, lights, and decorations.

The sunroom – formerly a screened porch – is climate controlled and has previously housed small weddings and receptions, corporate meetings, and holiday parties.

The Wayside Inn is a lovely bed and breakfast with carefully appointed rooms, but the real treat in spending time there is the exceptional service and “breakfast” part of the deal.

For more information about the Wayside Inn Bed and Breakfast visit