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The Parador Inn
939 Western Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Our rest stop for our night in Pittsburgh during the 2009 trip was the Parador Inn, a B&B housed in a magnificent Victorian mansion. It's been meticulously restored but the current owner, a Pittsburgh native, felt that every B&B in a similar structure does a Victorian theme so he was going to put his own twist on it by adding Caribbean elements.

This gimmick is probably not strong enough to really distinguish the property but we were wildly amused by the various details it produced such as stuffed sea creatures on the beds, Jamaican music playing downstairs, and the "beach" out back.

Rooms vary in size. Large ones are very large indeed and all strikingly decorated - bold Caribbean colors mixed with Victorian period details. Each has their own private bathroom, flat screen televisions with Direct TV, complimentary high-speed Internet service, clock radios, fireplaces, and more. Maryís room had a heated window seat box while Rickís room had a bay window looking out toward the up-and-coming street on which the place is located.

We wouldíve liked a bit more plush in the beds and especially the pillows but thatís just our taste. There was nothing wrong with what was provided, it just wasnít the kind of sleeping arrangement that makes one want to snuggle in bed all day.

Downstairs is a nice dining room, a couple of living spaces, a sun porch complete with a kettle drum (and beginners instruction on how to play it). A garden and the aforementioned beach are sheltered from the street and wouldíve made a nice place to while away some time for us if hadnít been raining while we were there.

The owner makes a full hot breakfast in the morning; we had a vanilla yogurt parfait, a slightly spicy spinach quiche, bacon, and homemade orange bread and were quite satisfied.

Obviously staying in such an establishment means trading a sleek streamlined bathroom for one a little bit more creaky, but it does make for a refreshing change of pace from a standard generic hotel room and the amenities are comparable. And the location on the North Shore is terrific - just a few blocks from the stadiums, a new casino (yes, Rick went), the National Aviary, and more.

At around $150 per night it is not inexpensive to stay here but thatís about on par with the full-service hotels in the area and this place offers up much more personalized service so really itís all about what appeals to you more.

If you do decide to stay here give resident black labs Razor and RJ a hug!

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