Jefferson  is “the Bed-and-Breakfast Capital of Texas,” so if you were ever going to stay in a B&B, this is the place to do it. It’s practically required. The nearly 40 B&Bs far outnumber the measly hotel options, and the town is a Victorian-era playground, so you may as well go all the way.
Among the popular choices is the Claiborne House Bed & Breakfast (312 South Alley, 903/665-8800, www.claibornehousebnb.com , rooms range $119–179), a stately Greek Revival home built in 1872. The Claiborne House offers six rooms—four in the main house and two in the carriage house, each named after romantic poets (Yeats, Wilde, Dickinson, etc.). All rooms have a framed poem, book of the poet’s work, wireless Internet access, private baths, and color TVs. A full Southern gourmet breakfast is served at 9 a.m. and a day spa is available featuring massages, body wraps, hot rock treatments, and salt scrubs.
Guests make regular returns to the remarkable McKay House Bed & Breakfast Inn (306 East Delta St., 903/665-7322, www.mckayhouse.com , rooms range $89–169). The McKay house is famous for its attention to detail (Victorian nightgowns, sleep shirts, and period hats await on guests’ beds) and its Gentleman’s Breakfast (French toast, bacon, shirred eggs with ham, pineapple zucchini muffins, strawberry cheese blintz). Seven rooms feature period furnishings, private baths, and Wi-Fi access, and the B&B provides lemonade, fireside coffee, a Packard pump organ, and a lush garden.
The Old Mulberry Inn Bed & Breakfast (209 Jefferson St., 903/665-1945, www.jeffersontexasinn.com , $89–129) comes highly recommended by Southern Living magazine and the L.A. Times Magazine and for good reason. This antebellum home contains five guest rooms and two cottages with private baths featuring footed tubs, family heirlooms, cable TV, and free wireless Internet access. The three-course gourmet breakfasts include delectable items such as artichoke quiche, baked pears with cranberries, Rocky Mountain grits, and mulberry almond coffeecake.
Another worthy option is the Kennedy Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn (217 W. Lafayette St., 903/665-2528, www.kennedy-manor.com , rooms range $99–139). Located in the heart of Jefferson , this 1860 Greek Revival–style home offers rooms with period antiques, private baths, cable TV, and individual climate controls. The gourmet breakfasts are legendary, and guests are invited to read in the library or play the antique pump organ or grand piano in the music room.
For those who insist on staying in a normal plush-free hotel in the B&B Capital of Texas, consider the clean, comfortable, and independently owned Inn of Jefferson (400 S. Walcott St., 903/665-3983 www.hotel-jefferson.com , $74 d). There’s nothing fancy about this place, but it’s pleasant, with a free full hot breakfast, an outdoor pool, and free 24-hour beverage service. A word of caution: The loud whistles from the trains across the highway can be quite distracting. Especially at 3 a.m.
The historic Excelsior House hotel (211 W. Austin St., 903/665-2513, www.theexcelsiorhouse.com , $119 d) is technically a hotel, but feels like a bed-and-breakfast (not a surprise in this town). It’s rich in history and ghosts, however, and has hosted guests since the 1850s. Fans of paranormal activity claim this is one of the most haunted locations in town. During Jefferson ’s prosperous days, famous people such as Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Oscar Wilde stayed here, and its 150-plus years of operation make it one of the oldest establishments of its kind still in business in Texas.