As skiers, we spend a lot of time in northern New England, so it’s inevitable we find ourselves “snowed in” at least once each winter.
If the weather forecast predicts a big snowstorm, look for a place to stay that offers more than just a bed for the night. Ideal places to be snowbound have cozy common areas (preferably with a fireplace and lots of books and games), plus a dining room, so you don’t have to drive anywhere for dinner. If they don’t have a dining room, there needs to be restaurants within a short walk.
Other activities are nice, too, such as a spa or afternoon tea or snowshoes for first tracks when the snow stops falling. We like comfortable sitting areas, big windows where we can watch the snow swirl in the wind, and mountain views when the weather clears. Inns usually don’t serve lunch, but breakfasts are so bountiful, they carry us easily through until tea time. Here are some of the most romantic places we have been snowbound.
Rabbit Hill Inn
We arrived at Rabbit Hill Inn, overlooking the Connecticut River in northern Vermont, as the first flakes began to fall — when we awoke in the morning the world lay under a foot of fresh snow. It was still falling, and we knew if we could barely see the trees outside, we wouldn’t be able to see the ski trails at nearby Burke Mountain. We helped ourselves to a second bowl of Rabbit Hill’s own pecan-filled granola and settled into the inn’s comfortable parlor to work on a fiendishly intricate jigsaw puzzle. The snow died down to flurries by early afternoon and we went outside to explore on snowshoes, returning for afternoon tea and fresh-baked goodies in the lounge. That, a soak in the Jacuzzi and reading in front of the fireplace in our room occupied us until dinnertime in the inn’s award-winning dining room. We could get used to ski vacations like this.
Adair Country Inn
The style at Adair Country Inn in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, is that of a gracious country home in the early 1900s, when wealthy city people decamped to the cooling mountain breeze for the summer. And that’s just what it is, a country estate with all the luxuries of the era — and a few modern ones as well. The beautifully paneled library is now an intimate bar, and the family dining room is, appropriately, the fine-dining restaurant. Watch it snow from the large windows as you eat the inn’s signature breakfast popovers, choose a book from the long bookcase in the upstairs hallway (where you’ll want to explore the large collection of vintage hats) and spend the day reading in a large guestroom or overlooking the snow-covered lawns and gardens in the lovely antique-furnished parlor. A proper tea is served here in the afternoon and you wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else for dinner. Good winter entrée choices for a snowy evening include locally sourced pork osso bucco braised in cider and cranberries, or New England winter vegetable pot pie.
The Wentworth, in Jackson, New Hampshire, is not a traditional country inn, but a grand hotel on an intimate scale. It dates from the era of the White Mountain summer resort hotels, another element of the summer exodus from the cities in the early 1900s. Completely revamped to include conveniences its original guests never dreamed of, there’s a pool table and games on the glass-enclosed porch, hot cider and fresh-baked cookies by the giant fireplace in the lobby, original art on the walls, and rooms with private balconies and hot tubs so guests can watch it snow up close. An especially warming ski-country tradition is Swiss fondue in the afternoon, and when the snow stops there’s a skating rink in the back yard. New England’s largest network of cross-country ski trails begins next door in the heart of the post-card perfect village.
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