BBOnline Member SINCE 1996

Burlington's Willis Graves Bed & Breakfast Inn

5825 N. Jefferson Street, Burlington, Kentucky 41005
Innkeeper(s): Nancy & Bob Swartzel

February Promotion: Complimentary Chocolate-covered Strawberries by request 7 Feb 2017, 11:12 am

In honor of Valentine's Day, for stays during the month of February, we will give complimentary chocolate-covered strawberries to every guest who requests them at the time of booking... just mention "strawberries", and you'll have Nancy's chocolate-covered strawberries during your stay!

Check out our inn online ( to learn about other details to expect during your stay... such as triple sheeting, down comforters, extra pillows, and plush robes and towels - all already in place when you arrive.

And feel free to bring wine or champagne to toast your belated Valentine’s celebration, we’ll have glasses and a corkscrew ready and waiting in your room for you to use.

Happy Valentine's Day!

January Newsletter: Cookies, Garth Brooks, and BeerFest 25 Jan 2017, 10:00 pm

Our January newsletter just went out by email (please excuse the "December" typo in the top left corner)... it includes a link to upcoming local events - including Garth Brooks in Cincinnati this weekend! And don't miss Nancy's chocolate chip cookie recipe if you are looking for Valentine's Day baking ideas. Enjoy!

Click here for the newsletter.

Gift Certificates and our December Newsletter Link 15 Dec 2016, 7:02 pm

There is still time to shop in your pajamas this year and leave the crowds behind! 

Give your friends and family the gift of a memorable experience by ordering a personalized Gift Certificate for a relaxing getaway at our Inn!

Gift Certificates start at $25 and can be purchased on our website by clicking here, or call us at 888-226-5096 to order by phone. A personalized certificate will be created and mailed directly to you or the recipient! Your recipient can choose between two masterfully restored early and mid-1800s buildings: the 1850s log cabin and the 1830s Federal brick homestead. Our goal has always been to understand our guests and deliver a lasting impression that involves all five senses: the sight of antiques and comfortable surroundings, the sound of soft music, the touch of plush towels, the smell of the freshly ironed sheets, and the memorable taste of homemade cookies.

Call us today at 888-226-5096 to give a gift of relaxation this Christmas!

Our December Newsletter:

November Newsletter 15 Nov 2016, 11:46 am

Visit this link to view our November Newsletter with live links:

October Newsletter 11 Oct 2016, 11:41 am

Visit this link to view our October Newsletter with live links:

Robin Wood Flowers Class 5 Aug 2016, 5:03 pm

Looking for something unique to do during an upcoming stay? 
Robin Wood Flowers just announced the following classes:

(The white flowers below, on our dining table, are an example of this florist's lovely work.)

Willis Graves Inn on TV - Bob, Nancy, and Jean interviewed by KET 19 May 2016, 6:49 pm

News must have spread about the award that the inn received as one of the Top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the U.S., because KET television made a special visit and interviewed Bob, Nancy, and Nancy's mom, Jean. What a great story! Check it out here - the segment starts around the 1 minute and 45 second mark. (We will also try to embed the video below...)

Bob Brames 14 Mar 2016, 7:43 pm

It is with sadness that we share with you that Nancy's Dad and Jean's husband, Bob Brames, passed on February 8th. Everyone who has walked through the bed and breakfast has seen Bob's handiwork as a master-carpenter, he poured sweat and determination into the renovation that began in 1991. In August 1995, with the project completed, the inn opened for business with Jean and Bob greeting guests during the early years. We give thanks for Bob's life and his legacy that is part of the entire inn. Nancy found the wonderful photos (below) that show how much hard work went into the Main House renovation - it was a whole family renovation with Nancy, Bob, Bob, Jean, and Mike all involved.


Robert (Bob) Joseph Brames, age 86, and a resident of Erlanger, died Monday February 8, 2016 at Baptist Village. He was a retired master carpenter and proudly served in the US Naval Reserve. Survivors include his wife Jean (nee Wehking) Brames of Erlanger, KY; Paula (Brames) Leifrig & spouse William (Bill) Leifrig of Richmond, TX; Nancy (Brames) Swartzel & spouse Dr. Robert (Bob) Swartzel of Burlington, KY; Michael Brames of Erlanger, KY; Todd Brames & spouse Anza Brames of Sugar Land, TX; Matthew (Matt) Brames & spouse Katherine Brames of Richmond, TX ; his sisters Jean Maloney of West Palm Beach ,FL , Mary Duffy and Ann Brames both of Indiana; and a brother Dr. Thomas (Tom) Brames of Vacaville, CA. Robert was the grandpa of 14 grandchildren and a great-grandpa to 13. A memorial service to celebrate Bob's life will be held on Wednesday, March 16th at the Linnemann Funeral Home in Burlington, KY from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Linnemann Funeral Home and Event Cente - See more at:


Inn Restoration Photos and Family Memories...

Before - Nancy's Dad, Bob Brames, out front - this photo was take just after the Swartzels bought it in 1991.

Main House Before

Siding Removed

Bob Swartzel applying the vapor barrier under the siding.
Removing Siding and the ugly porch - 1991

Bob Brames hanging doors
Bob Brames working in the Main House
Bob Brames outside with the new addition to the side of the Main House
Bob Brames working on the addition
Both Bobs! Nancy's Dad finding papers on the left, Nancy's husband Bob on the right.
Nancy's Mom, Jean, hammering
Nancy's brother, Mike, and Bob Swartzel behind him.

Just before the paint was going to be burned off. The photo also shows the 19th century construction of bricks, heavy timber and plaster. The plaster consists of animal hair, lime and sand. The ceiling of plaster was taken out by Nancy and her family to do proper wiring and a new ceiling. You can also see the heavy floor joist.

Bob, Jean, and Bob
Nancy inside the Main House

After all of the siding was removed - beautiful!
Nancy Gardening
Playing Horseshoes
Sheets on the line

Nancy's Mom, Jean, gardening
Grandpa's Littlest Apprentice - Bob and Nancy's son, Dan with Grandpa in the background
Making Cabinets
Nancy's parents always up for a fun time!
Bob with his dog; Bob was most likely about 18 years old. 
Nancy's sister, Mom, and Dad (and Nancy!) at dinner - around 2014. 
Nancy's Dad enjoying the front porch of the house that he restored along with the family's help
Great photo with grandchildren, Liz and Dan
Liz (Bob and Nancy's daughter) with Grandma and Grandpa

Dan (Nancy and Bob's son) with Grandma and Grandpa

Nancy's Dad, Bob, with two of his sisters, her mom, Nancy's cousin and Nancy

Hand of a Master Carpenter - Bob Brames

Jean and Bob at the Inn - taken by a local paper.

Nancy was about 4 years old so that makes this photo of her Dad with the sheep about 58 years old.

Tree house Grandpa built with Bob Swartzel and Dan. This was the Swartzels' house in Edgewood down in our woods - before they moved to the inn.

Both Bobs working on an addition to the inn.

Bob and Jean had an day long wedding. This photo was of a brunch that Nancy's Great Aunt had for her parents just after they were married.

The Happy Couple - Jean and Bob on their Wedding Day - they were married for 66 years.

A Note from Nancy and Bob... 26 Feb 2016, 1:56 pm

Dear Guests,
Before you click on the link below, we wanted to share a few things to explain the content so there isn't any confusion... As you will discover in this post, we have decided to list the inn for sale. This process is likely to take awhile.
In the meantime, we want our repeat and new guests to know that up until the day the transaction happens, we are still here and our service will be exactly the same. We love innkeeping but after 21 years as innkeepers, it's time to start another phase of life.
We want all our returning - and future - guests to continue staying with us; it would be sad not to see your faces, as we love welcoming you to Burlington's Willis Graves! 
We look forward to continuing to greet you and provide the experience you have loved over the years. 
- Nancy and Bob
p.s. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions (859-689-5096).

Nancy and Bob on WKRC News... 29 Jan 2016, 7:29 am

Nancy and Bob were on the WKRC news last night! :)

The video is here: