With the arrival of spring, my thoughts invariably turn to the dune-fringed coastline, wooded hills and idyllic villages of New England.
As a British friend once remarked, “In July and August, I can’t imagine why Americans would want to go anywhere else in the world.”
Here are five of our favorite New England inns.
Ultimately, its location is what makes The Wauwinet so special. Set on a peninsula between Nantucket Bay and a surf-swept Atlantic beach, the inn is virtually surrounded by water, and the breeze never loses its sea-salt tang. True, the accommodations tend to be on the small side — Bayview Bedrooms #301, #302 and #303 on the third floor are the most desirable — but the public areas are inviting, and the seafood and New American cuisine in Topper’s restaurant are invariably delicious.
Given its Italianate grandeur, describing Wheatleigh as an “inn” is stretching the definition just a tad. But as there are just 19 rooms and suites, the designation is perhaps semi-justified. Located in Lenox, Massachusetts, and surrounded by 22 acres of parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the hotel offers second-floor Junior Suites with balconies that afford memorable views of the wooded landscape. In The Dining Room, chef Jeffrey Thompson presents a menu of superb French/ American cuisine. Wheatleigh is just a short walk from Tanglewood.
Centered on a 1795 farmhouse that was Sinclair Lewis’ wedding gift to his wife, Dorothy, Twin Farms is a magical Vermont retreat with just 20 distinctive lodgings, surrounded by 300 acres of meadows and woodlands. Chef Ted Ask’s seasonal, locally sourced cuisine is deservedly renowned, as is the 30,000-bottle wine cellar, which contains a collection of Bordeaux dating to 1810. A wonderful spa features signature products from England’s Arcania Apothecary. Personally, I always try to find time for a blissful soak in the 104-degree Japanese furo tub.
Set beside a stream in the charming Vermont village of Warren, The Pitcher Inn has just 11 distinctive accommodations (two of which are two-bedroom suites housed within a barn). My favorite rooms are “Lodge,” “Mountain,” “Trout” and “Ski,” but most feature antique furniture, woodburning fireplaces and Jacuzzi baths. A fine restaurant serves modern American cuisine. The list of outdoor activities is virtually endless—including skiing at nearby Sugarbush — but as I generally stay in summer, I pack a fly rod with which to pester the local trout.
Just five minutes’ walk from the center of Kennebunkport, Maine, The White Barn Inn offers 26 rooms, suites and cottages with a thoroughly traditional ambience. (The 12 rooms in the Main House are the smallest, while the most lavish accommodations are provided by the recently renovated May’s Cottage.) While I appreciate the inn’s sophisticated comfort, the highlight of my numerous stays has invariably been dinner in the justly acclaimed restaurant. There, the chef presents specialties such as pan-seared day boat scallops with a Port wine reduction, and lobster with homemade fettuccine and cognac butter sauce. The accompanying 27-page wine list is superb.
*Illustrations ©Melissa Colson