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The East Brother Light Station Bed and Breakfast

A Different Accommodation on a Different Rock, in San Francisco Bay

by Larry Benedict

One quarter mile off-shore, in the straits that divide the San Francisco and San Pueblo Bays, lies a tiny island that hosts one of the Country’s most unique Bed and Breakfast Inns. This single-acre island, one of a pair called “The East and West Brothers” had its cap of rock leveled in 1873 to accommodate the East Brother Light Station that operated there for over a Century. It was inhabited by keepers until 1969 when the light was automated and the buildings fell into disrepair.

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Although it is still owned by the Coast Guard, a non-profit organization undertook its restoration and the exquisite Victorian structure has been operating as a Bed and Breakfast for the past 15 years. It has four individually decorated bedrooms with period antiques and can accommodate eight guests in total. Both beacon-light and fog horn are functional and the innkeepers love to fire them up, with the power from a gigantic diesel engine.

As you troop up the spiral steps to the copper floored balcony that surrounds the beacon-light on all sides, you will learn how this Fresnel light works and you may also hear stories of the resident lighthouse ghost. Back in the main part of the structure the feeling is definitely cozy, though there are a few sacrifices that must be made because of the nature of the island. Showers are severely rationed allowing only one per guest every two days.

The gourmet meals however, spare no culinary extravagance and you may find yourself dining on mushroom soup flavored by thyme, tarragon and basil and followed by Salmon Wellington. With luck, this main dish will be followed by an extraordinary desert of creme brule.

If any single part of this experience stands out above the rest, it is the mix of weather and views. They are available on all sides and nearby mount Tamalpais is often bathed in a fiery sweeping sunset, that bursts through gold-struck clouds. Below, along the surface of the steely water, fogs, colored by the changing light, obscure the San Francisco skyline with a muted evening haze just as the distant city’s lights are coming on. This one of a kind place is, for many, a fantasy come true.

Included in the $295 double and $235 single room are champagne and hors d’oeuvres upon arrival. There is a five course dinner, a full breakfast, a tour, and launch transportation to and from the island.

Reservations are definitely required (510) 233-2385 MC/ Visa/Amex/checks accepted. Open Thursday - Sunday nights.

East Brother Light Station Bed and Breakfast is listed in THE REGISTER: The Original Internet Directory of B & Bs, Inns, and Small Hotels. You will also find additional Lighthouse B & Bs featured on the front page of THE REGISTER.

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