What could be more romantic than curling up in front of a blazing fireplace on a snowy evening, cups of steaming mulled wine in hand? Inns throughout New England combine luxurious guestrooms, cozy areas for socializing, fine dining and glorious snow-covered scenery to wake up to. It’s a recipe for a romantic getaway for two.
The prize for views must go to Snowvillage Inn, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where several guestrooms have 180-degree views of snow-covered Mt Washington surrounded by other peaks of the Presidential Range. Innkeepers Jan and Kevin serve cooked-to-order breakfasts with muffins fresh from the oven, and the inn’s restaurant, Max’s, serves a sophisticated menu, so you can walk from the fireside to the dining room without putting on your snow boots. With a name like theirs, it’s almost a given they would have a snowshoe center with equipment for guests.
Farther north in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Inn at Thorn Hill adds a full-service spa to a menu of luxuries that includes a fine-dining restaurant and a renowned wine cellar. If your day includes skiing or other active sports, soothe tired limbs afterward in the double Jacuzzi — each room has one. For an especially romantic fireside dinner, reserve table No. 10 when you book your room. After dinner, toddle upstairs to slip into deliciously soft sateen bathrobes and sit by the fireplace in your room. Choices for custom-cooked breakfast in the morning might include eggs Benedict and feather-light blueberry pancakes.
Bethlehem, N.H., was a summer retreat for wealthy city people at the turn of the 20th century, and Adair Country Inn occupies one of its country estates, set apart from the town center and surrounded by gardens designed by the Olmstead firm, the era’s premier landscape architects. The estate still has the feel of a gracious private home, except the paneled library is now an intimate bar. Arrive in time for afternoon tea in the large, bright parlor furnished in antiques, and savor a superb dinner of locally sourced ingredients in the home’s original dining room. From its window, look out at the snow-covered gardens over a breakfast that begins with hot popovers.
Even if you’ve never been there before, innkeepers Brian and Leslie make walking into Rabbit Hill Inn, overlooking the Connecticut River in northern Vermont, seem like returning to visit old friends. The surroundings ring with welcome — comfortable wing chairs in the beautifully furnished rooms face fireplaces and the magazines in the basket next to the hearth are the current issue. More inviting chairs and sofas around the fireplace in the bright parlor invite socializing, or joining others to unravel one of the intricate Vermont’s Stave puzzles. Inn-baked cookies and bars welcome you to tea each afternoon, and the dining room excels with entrees like cocoa-rubbed venison and deserts like caramel tart of cashews, walnuts and pepitas.
You’ll have to drive a mile or so for dinner in Manchester, Vt., but few settings can beat the approach to Wilburton Inn. Its long driveway climbs from below, spiraling around the elegant stone manor house to the elegant portico. Inside, paneled walls are hung with fine art and rooms are decorated to match the high-ceilinged grandeur. There are lots of comfortable seating groups in the parlors, where guests descend for evening toddies and lively conversation with the inn’s engaging hosts. Breakfasts are highlighted by breads from the family’s organic bakery at Earth Sky Time Farm, where you can opt to spend a snowy afternoon learning to bake bread.
Even on a snowy evening, it’s only a five-minute walk from the Captain Jefferds Inn to a choice of excellent dinner options in the southern Maine village of Kennebunkport. Reserve the large Arundel Room on the second floor of the elegant 1804 sea captain’s home, where windows on three sides overlook equally distinguished homes of ship-owners. When the snow stops you’ll have views of both sunrise and sunset. The freestanding fireplace faces both the room and the alcove hiding a large Jacuzzi tub. Descent the grand staircase to choose from a dazzling assortment of fine teas in the Garden Room, where you’ll find cheese and crackers in the afternoon and cookies in the evening. This glass-enclosed room is a fine place to watch the snow fall.
Who knows, maybe you’ll wake up in the morning to discover you’re snowbound and have to stay another night!
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