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The Covington Inn: A tugboat B&B on the Mississippi

Captain Chloe in the wheel house

We spent several days in St. Paul, MN with my brother and sister-in-law — and since a little family goes a long way (especially when the family includes a dog and her gear), we stayed on the Mississippi River at The Covington Inn. When I say “on the Mississippi,” I mean literally on the river — the Covington is a converted historic tugboat moored across from downtown St. Paul.

The innkeeper, Liz Miller, has a dog of her own (a handsome Pomeranian-American Eskimo mix), and can be coaxed into allowing a small, well-behaved dog on board. She likes to have the option of saying “no,” though, so she’s not quite willing to call the Inn “dog-friendly.” (Please note that I found the Inn in a database of dog-friendly B&B’s, and remember to confirm that a source’s data is current when you make your travel plans.) Tell her about your traveling companion, and cross your fingers. Chloe was gloriously happy at the Inn, in part because a long, wide park runs along the river where the Inn is docked, and in part because the river had recently covered the parkland and the new smells drove her wild. Also, there were geese and ducks as well as squirrels….

We arrived only a few days after the river crested — a thick layer of mud still covered the lowest part of the pier leading to the boat, and debris from the flooding was still caught in the park benches lining the river walk. That first night, the wind was fierce and the current was wild, but the boat is solidly-built and solidly-moored and we slept like babies. (In succeeding days, the water and weather calmed down, and crews arrived to clear away debris.)

The boat has four suites, two with queen-sized beds (the Pilot House Suite and the Master’s Quarters). We stayed in the Pilot House Suite, because we loved the idea of a wheel house sitting room. The Pilot House bedroom is cozy — we regretted our large suitcases, but there was just room to put up Chloe’s crate and maneuver around it to the stairs up to the wheel house. If you have large suitcases, interpret “cozy” as “cramped,” or prefer not to pit yourself against narrow, winding staircases, you’ll be happier on the ground floor, in the Mate’s Quarters.

Our bathroom was small but perfectly clean and sufficient. The shower (no tub) was just tall enough for my very tall husband and had superb water pressure. The saloon holds a couch and fireplace, a pot of coffee and the breakfast tables. It’s a lovely, calm place to watch the river roll by and play cards, chat, or write blog posts (the free wi-fi worked well in the saloon, but not in our room). Our breakfasts were good, and the boat is located only a bridge away from the restaurants of downtown St. Paul. We will happily return, assuming that Chloe remains a welcome guest — our other dog-friendly options in St. Paul were large chain hotels, and how could they possibly compete?!