In 1901, after numerous pleas from his wife, Mary, Big Island rancher W. H. "Willie" Shipman purchased this graceful, secluded Victorian high above Hilo Bay for the grand sum of $13,000. Hospitality has ruled ever since. During a 1907 tour of the South Pacific, writer Jack London and his wife spent five weeks there. (Hilo had no hotels at the time.) Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last monarch, enjoyed playing the parlor's 1912 Steinway. Today, by turning the house into a five-room inn, Shipman's great-granddaughter Barbara Ann Andersen and her husband, Gary, keep up the tradition. Koa-wood cabinets, mantels, and bookshelves date to the original construction in 1899. Most of the furniture was bought by Mary Shipman. Vintage family photos mix with contemporary works by Hawaiian artists such as John Kelly and Dietrich Varez. Coffee and pineapples and other tropical fruits, all grown on the five-acre estate, dominate the breakfast table. For a view of the bay, request Auntie Clara's Shell Room. Its comfy rocking chair is perfect for a late-afternoon wave-watching session.
Shipman House, 131 Kaiulani St., Hilo; 800/627-8447 or 808/934-8002; doubles from $130.