The homes of former sea captains and businessmen have new life in New England, where luxurious inns pay homage to former occupants with modern accouterments. With just 30 rooms or less, there’s plenty of relaxation and quiet.
Lake Winnipesaukee may be most famous for Bike Week, but the new Pickering House Inn — a historic property opened in just August in Wolfeboro — classes up New Hampshire with just 10 rooms oozing rustic charm. Each is different in the reinvigorated 1813 former homestead of Daniel Pickering, a prosperous businessman. Original woodwork has been refinished, gas fireplaces make it cozy in winter and Pickering could barely have dreamed of the spacious indoor bathrooms — with luxurious heated tile floors and back-lit makeup mirrors — that would befall his home two centuries later. Cross-country skiing and craft beer and spirit distilleries await nearby. There’s also a refinished barn on site for weddings of up to 150 people.
The former home 1881 home of Mellen E. Bolster opened in September 2018 as a 15-room inn on the National Park Service’s Registry of Historic Places in charming Portland, Maine. The “Portland” of the East Coast also has a lot of the cool factor, with plentiful galleries, pubs, restaurants and a lot of foot traffic for people watching near the seaside in summertime. The building is named for Francis Fassett, who helped redesign most of the city’s landmarks after a massive 1866 fire. Today, furniture and local artwork is modern in each spacious, light-filled room, the minibars offer up all-local snacks and the second-floor spa offers another respite for those taking a weekend away in Maine’s trendiest locale.
Visitors may ask themselves “What exactly is there to do in Rowley?,” but perhaps that’s the point … to get away from it all. This sleepy little town offers one of the state’s newest in romantic inns, just right for weddings, but it’s also a relaxation destination in and of itself, with 30 large guestrooms with fireplaces, soaking tubs, an on-site spa and gourmet local dining. The property kicks off the new year with a bang with a grand opening this month.
History buffs unite for the land that started the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, the Inn at Hastings Park, just steps away from the site of the Lexington Battle Green (where the first shots were fired to start the Revolutionary War). Boston is just a short drive away but it couldn’t feel more bucolic out here, where 22 rooms and suites are configured in three restored historic buildings. There’s the Main House (1888), built as a private residence: Isaac Mulliken House, former abode of an 1841 politician; and the barn, Mulliken’s carpentry shop. The Relais & Chateaux property puts a contemporary spin on tradition with bold patterns and bright colors; most feature gas fireplaces. An evening here also includes a delicious breakfast the next day at Artistry on the Green, featuring the work of New England native chef Stacy Cogswell, a former Top Chef contestant.
On a trip to New England you can’t forget the islands, and 76 Main in Nantucket is pretty memorable. The former sea captain’s home gets a contemporary nautical makeover with technology to boot (iPads in every room for guests’ use), along with an on-site café. Common spaces include a courtyard with firepits and a BYOB cocktail mixer bar, and each of the 20 rooms has flare courtesy of Lark Hotel group’s interior designer extraordinaire, Rachel Reider. Blue hues, textured textiles and pops of mod colors are her signature there and at Lark’s other small boutique properties scattered across the region, including Salem’s The Merchant, the Christopher on Martha’s Vineyard and the Ale House Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Don’t miss the sweet suite collaboration with Vineyard Vines at 76 Main, a design collaboration with one of Massachusetts’ trendiest vacation outfitters.
Sweeping views of Atlantic and Gilded Age elegance await at Chanler at Cliff Walk, a 20-room estate where the opulent interior makes it clear to see why the original Great Gatsby was filmed in Newport. Tour the mansions here, visit the Tennis Hall of Fame, go sailing or go for a stroll along the Cliff Walk — a seaside National Recreational Trail.