A flophouse, a dorm-like college hotel, an island resort reception hall with no windows—lodgings faded, distressed, and ravaged by time. These were the establishments we decided to investigate and suggest this year. Why? Because those on this list were “redone”—some to the tune of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars—and have reemerged on lists of distinction. So, if you generally are lured by the new and noteworthy—shunning those B&Bs, inns, and hotels you feel are way past their heyday, think again. Rebuilt, renewed, or refreshed, the following establishments are worth a second look.
Millennium Bostonian Hotel
26 North St /// Boston, MA (617) 523-3600
From White Plains: 3 ½ hours
The Millennium Bostonian Hotel updated its décor from shoddy to chic
Tradition is thrown on its head in this top-to-bottom $24 million redo. Gone is stodgy décor and in its place one of the most stunning and exotic hotel lobbies on this list. Shiny red and black lacquered bookshelves, a cherry-hued area rug, a charcoal-gray floral brocade couch, zebra-skin stools, and large gold apples accessorize the gateway into this service-is-key hotel right across from historic Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall.
Room: Refurbished in masculine tans, ecru, and charcoals accented by orange garnishes, sleeping quarters might front a cobblestone byway or Quincy Market and the Big-Ben-like clocks of Faneuil Hall. Huge travertine bathrooms feature rain shower heads in a glass shower fit for two, and custom toiletries include an arm-sized loofa. Ask for room 442 ($350), which gives you views of the market and a perfect perch from which to catch street performers. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the sweet sound of a saxophone playing “The Star Spangled Banner” as the sun goes down.
Board: New North 26 (26 North St, Boston, MA 617-557-3640) gets high marks for libations like the “Cupcake Tini,” and blue-cheese-stuffed martini olives that, when soaked in Chopin Vodka “open heaven’s gates,” according to one fan. You and 11 friends can hold court at the chef’s table adjacent to an 18-foot-tall glass wine case, and enjoy inventive bites like mushroom-onion gallet and superb grilled calamari.
Only Here: The Millennium literally sits atop U.S. history. When the Bostonian Hotel was built 28 years ago, architects were required to preserve a maze of historically protected cobblestone alleyways—some only a few feet across—within the building’s footprint. They did this by designing three separate structures joined by enclosed skywalks from which visitors can peer below into our nation’s past.
While Here: Though Quincy Market has turned into a franchise mall, you still can find a few original shops, like cookie purveyor Boston Chipyard. Best to sign up for Michele Topor’s three-hour North End Market Tour (northendmarkettours.com), which gives you an informative old-school taste of the Italian neighborhood.
Facts and Figures: Room rates from $169 to $399 include complimentary organic coffee in the morning and homemade lemonade in the afternoon. Wi-Fi costs $9.95 per day.
15 Beacon St /// Boston, MA (617) 670-1500
From White Plains: 3½ hours
The XV Beacon oozes Old World charm.
Devotées of XV Beacon include politicos, celebs, and refined luxury hounds who check in to this 62-room boutique hotel for the Old World Bostonian private-home experience fused with ultimate service. Within steps of the State House, a stylish, abstract dark brown-and-cream parlor that serves as the lobby often buzzes with locals (and visitors) making plans. Recently, guest chambers have been refreshed with flat-screen TVs and cashmere throws and the on-site restaurant, Mooo, just opened to great acclaim.
Room: Picture yourself post-shower in your Frette bathrobe, sprawled out on a luscious pillow-top contemporary four-poster, reading a delivered-to-your-door New York Times in front of a flick-of-a-switch gas fireplace. Walls, floor, accessories, and bedding are in coffee colors of every permutation from café au lait to dark Arabica. And unexpected architectural details—like chunks of crown molding that break up the brushed-nickel fireplace façade—give the crisp, modern aesthetic an interesting twist.
Board: Why eat anywhere else when Mooo (mooorestaurant.com), the hottest city steakhouse that doesn’t look like a steakhouse, is right downstairs? With a delicate color palette of “cappuccino foam” and mushroom, it would be easy to discount the seriousness of the beef here. Fear not. Chefs know how to char a side of cow to perfection. But even if you haven’t had a slice of red meat since your big-hair days, you will be happy. Asian-influenced tuna tartare is exceptional, wonderfully caramelized bay scallops arrive perfectly seared, and even the most health-conscious can’t help but grab fistfuls of ethereal truffled Parmesan fries.
Only Here: Two Lexus sedans are on call providing complimentary rides to downtown Boston (which, in a city notorious for impossible parking, is a priceless perk), and the concierge is a member of impeccable Les Clefs d’Or.
While Here: Take advantage of the 10th anniversary getaway, which includes an automatic room upgrade and choice of one of 10 “enhancements,” ranging from free overnight parking (usually $44), breakfast for two, Boston beer-tasting, a free ride to Logan Airport, or a bottle of Champagne or wine ($410 per room, subject to availability).
Facts and Figures: Rooms range from $295 for a stately classic to $1,900 for a two-bedroom suite.
Portland Harbor Hotel
468 Fore St /// Portland, ME (207) 775-9090/(888) 798-9090
From White Plains: 5 hours
The Executive King suites at the Portland Harbor Hotel have separate sleeping and sitting areas.
From time to time, Bruce Springsteen comes to Portland to lay down some tracks, and, when he does, he stays in the brand-new king suite at the Portland Harbor Hotel. This traditional luxury hotel in the midst of an artsy, cobblestoned old port town, designated “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appétit magazine in 2009, has also drawn Leonardo DiCaprio and Jerry Seinfeld to its just-built six-suite wing. A snug parlor serves as concierge and reception area where the ultimate in friendly staff await. There’s a complimentary Town Car at your service to take you anywhere within city limits. And, for turndown, expect a signature chocolate lobster on your pillow.
Room: Most of the 101 rooms are tastefully traditional, but if you prefer cosmo-contemporary, stay in one of the six new suites, in a separate, exclusive wing with its very own elevator. The Executive King Suite ($350-$470) is one room split into sitting and sleeping zones by a double-sided glass fireplace. Japanese sliding panels open onto a large soaking tub and the khaki-colored granite-and-wood bathroom. Two of you can take a shower in the double rain-shower-head shower with granite enclosure.
Board: The in-house restaurant, Eve’s on the Garden, is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail or a signature “Benedict” or omelet in the morning. But Portland is a James Beard-winning restaurant town, so best to hit a few that have put it on the national radar. If your heart can handle it, waddle to hole-in-the-wall Duckfat (43 Middle St), and order the fries crisped in, yup, duck fat. Ask the concierge to book you a coveted table in the center of the action at Fore Street (forestreet.biz), a 2010 James Beard contender where the menu changes daily based on the fresh ingredients delivered every morning.
Only Here: Walk the cobblestone streets and check out eclectic shops. Take in the art galleries and the Museum of Art. Plan to come October 21 to 23 for Harvest on the Harbor (harvestontheharbor.com)—a food and wine festival.
While Here: Take a two-hour windjammer sail (portlandschooner.com) on Casco Bay to absorb the beauty of the Maine coastline (through October).
Facts: Traditional rooms, $169-$350 per night; contemporary suites, $200-$470 per night.
The Tower Cottage
203 Forman Ave /// Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (877) 766-2693
From White Plains: 2 hours
The Tower Cottage is the tallest home on Point Pleasant Beach.
Lately, the Jersey Shore doesn’t exactly win any distinctions when it comes to class and elegance (hear me, Snooki?), but all that has changed with one little B&B. The Tower Cottage, housed in the tallest and one of the oldest homes in Point Pleasant Beach, places you, the guest, squarely in an English Manor or Italian Palazzo—with rooms so royally appointed, you can be somewhat disoriented when you walk out the front door to a neighborhood of small and tidy homes. Owners Tony and Maureen Haddad took a run-down flophouse and turned it into a premier luxury B&B through a top-to-bottom gut restoration, seemingly buying out the local chandelier factory. Maureen, with Shirley Temple blond locks and an exuberant personality, is unabashedly romantic. Tableware and ultra-soft towels are Lenox, flowers in each room are fresh each day, and, after much thought, Maureen chose high-thread-count Sferra bedding with Hungarian goose-down comforters and pillows.
Room: Ask for the Tower Suite in the third floor turret. An elevated bed with equally lofty bedding is surrounded by windows and capped with a crystal chandelier. The large bathroom has a two-person Jacuzzi and five-massage spray shower. Maureen is meticulous when it comes to keeping the tubs and showers clean—she triple-washes them after every use.
Board: No restaurant here, but Maureen has a lot of Jewish mother in her. She welcomes each guest with a small fruit and cheese plate. A couple of hours later, she whips up scones or other baked delights for afternoon tea, served on elegant gold-rimmed Lenox china. When you return from dinner (the choices are endless from “best dive” Spike’s Fish Market at 415 Broadway, to newcomer Daniel’s Bistro at 115 Broadway), fresh-baked cookies and Godiva chocolates are waiting. But Maureen’s sumptuous breakfast is what will ultimately put Tower Cottage on the “Best Of” map. She grows her own herbs and tomatoes, which end up in her omelet specialties. Her fruit-dense coffee cakes will be winning awards any time now.
Only Here: Learn to sail in a New Jersey Sailing School weekend clinic, through October 10 (newjersey sailingschool.com).
While Here: Fall is a great time to go big game fishing. Shun the drunken party boat hordes and troll for a variety of swimming species from a smaller, more personalized 31-foot craft at Andreas’ Toy Charters (andreastoycharters.com). Landlubbers will be happy to stroll along the Atlantic Ocean on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk (jenkinsons.com).
Facts and Figures: Rooms range from $275 to $425 per night and include a cheese plate, afternoon tea, cookies at bedtime, a gourmet multi-course hot breakfast, bikes, and lots of TLC.
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
On Pleasant Bay (2173 Rte 28) /// Chatham, MA (800) 225-7125
From White Plains: 4 hours
The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club sits on 27 waterfront acres.
A two-year, $40 million refurbishment has beautifully refreshed this elegant but laid-back seaside retreat long favored by families who “summer.” Classic Cape Cod-style buildings are tucked amid charming brick paths and lush English-style gardens on 27 meticulously landscaped waterfront acres. And while summer is always glorious on Cape Cod, an early autumn visit is one of the seasoned traveler’s best-kept secrets—the weather’s still delightful, but the crowds thin out and the prices drop.
Room: Ask for the new Signature Collection guest quarters in which you can wake up to the strains of your own iPod playlist, thanks to smart panel technology. Individually styled in soothing beachside palettes of soft blues, greens, and yellows, these oversized bedrooms and suites showcase stunning water views and sophisticated interiors featuring gas fireplaces, bespoke bedding, and sumptuous marble baths. Outdoors, private decks and patios, dotted with cozy upholstered wicker chaises, offer a mix of fire pits, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs. Rates start at $525 per night in low season and $2,800 in high.
Board: Four excellent on-site eateries offer everything from overstuffed lobster rolls to tender filet mignon, but do not miss dining at the superb 28 Atlantic, Zagat’s highest-rated restaurant on the Cape. Standouts include the tuna tartare trio starter and the petite-clambake entrée featuring sweet, succulent lobster.
Only Here: A vintage-style Good Humor ice cream truck, complete with clanging bell and uniformed driver, meanders through the property several times a day dispensing complimentary Chocolate Éclair and Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars and other frozen treats.
While Here: Hop aboard a boat from Wequassett’s dock for a seal- or whale-watching expedition or a short jaunt to the deserted Outer Beach of the Cape Cod National Seashore—helpful staff handles all the schlepping and set up of chairs, umbrellas, picnics, etc. Cycle along the old Cape Cod Rail trail or tee off at the private country club next door. A driver in one of a fleet of brand-new BMW SUVs will ferry you there or wherever you’d like to go, including the quaint little town of Chatham.
Facts and Figures: Room rates vary widely—from $195-$2,800 per night, according to configuration and season. Prices include in-room gourmet coffee, homemade pink lemonade, and, at turndown, handmade chocolate shells and a different freshly baked sweet treat—say, homemade peanut brittle—each evening.
Black Bass Hotel
3774 River Rd /// Lumberville, PA (215) 297-9260
From White Plains: 2 hours
Washington never slept at the Black Bass Hotel—but he should have.
When car-dealership mogul Jack Thompson first bought the ailing Black Bass Hotel, located precariously on the Delaware River and Canal, he spared no expense in its “labor of love” reclamation. First opened in 1745 as a frontier post and owned by British Loyalists, its running joke is that “Washington never slept here.” By 2003, the hotel was so run down, one engineer deemed it an “imminent risk for massive loss of life.” Thompson, determined to make every stay a “superior experience,” stipulated: “Make it safe, make it clean, and make it like it was.” So manager Grant Ross and Jack’s daughter, Laura Thompson Barnes, cultivated a historic-chic vibe, “marrying twenty-first century with 1745,” incorporating original stone walls and recycled charred beams (from an 1830s fire) into the improved structure.
Rooms: You can’t go wrong with any of the beautifully restored rooms, (i.e., Grover Cleveland loved what is now the “Grover” room, with original antique Shakespeare-carved sink and mirror in the bathroom), but the River Suite is a personal favorite. A handsome earth-toned room bisected by a thigh-high stone wall into sitting and sleeping areas also features a large
travertine Tuscany-meets-Great-Adirondack-camp bathroom and a small balcony patio with alluring views of the canal and river right below.
Board: The restaurant has been popular with the locals for years—and that goes twice for the signature “Charleston Meeting Street Crab,” with triple-reduction cream, sherry, and cheddar. It’s been on the menu for 50 years. Both the Lantern Lounge and Tavern Bar add eccentricity and deep history in a darkly atmospheric room.
Only Here: Be sure to lift a pint or stem at the pewter bar purchased at auction 50 years ago from Maxim’s of Paris in the Tavern Bar, where large glass cases of British Royal memorabilia dating from before Queen Victoria to Charles and Di take up all wall space. Downstairs you’ll find the original 1745 stone façade and windows which now serve as entrance to the basement saloon.
While Here: Head a few miles upriver—a gorgeous fall foliage ride—to Sand Castle Winery (sandcastlewinery.com). Gregarious Bratislava native Joe Maxian will regale you with stories and pontificate on the proper way to taste and drink wine. Be sure to ask for his “universal medicine for all of your problems” mulled Alpine spice, a combination of hot sweet wine and spices that gives chicken soup a run for its money.
Facts: Rooms from $195 to $395 include a hot breakfast in the restaurant and free Internet access.
Linden Point House
30 Linden Point Rd /// Stony Creek, CT (203) 481-0472
From White Plains: 1¼ hours
Linden Point House overlooks the Thimble Islands.
This is as close as you can get to the pink-granite Thimble Islands off the central Connecticut coast without actually being on one. Recently, New York City defectors Joel (photographer) and Hannah (artist) Baldwin turned a dilapidated shore home into a stunning showcase. Hammocks, Adirondack chairs, a Victorian gazebo, and benches now pepper the tiny peninsula once overrun with bramble and driftwood. Hannah’s oil paintings are displayed throughout a warren of artistically decorated sitting rooms, dens, and dining rooms—all with views of Long Island Sound’s most picturesque islands.
Room: All five guestrooms are heavenly, though the Master Suite ($375) is the most spacious. A lushly dressed queen bed, set in the center of a large room between two Roman columns, faces a bay window overlooking the granite islands and shoreline. Ready-to-be-lit candles surround a Jacuzzi in a big white-tiled bathroom that is flooded with sun from two skylights.
Board: You’re encouraged to bring your continental breakfast (cereals, fruit, bagels) to any room, patio, or sitting area on the property. There’s nothing like sipping your first morning coffee while watching mist dissipate from a pink-stone, boat-studded harbor. In town, the Stony Creek Market (178 Thimble Island Rd, Branford, CT 203-488-0145) offers fresh and healthy gourmet deli food, the best of which is toothsome Annie’s curried chicken salad. For dinner, bring a bottle of wine, purchase said chicken curry and some rolls, then picnic on Linden Point House grounds while savoring the jaw-dropping sunset—gold on pink. This is an artist’s nirvana.
Only Here: Ask Hannah and Joel how they met (hint, he was a Look magazine and lifestyle photographer; she was a Wilhelmina model).
While Here: This is arguably the most picturesque place on the Connecticut coast. Take a 45-minute Thimble Island tour on the Sea Mist (thimblelandcruise.com) to learn about it, then nap on a hammock.
Facts: Rooms are $200 to $375 per night and include a bountiful continental breakfast.
Hyatt Regency Newport
1 Goat Island /// Newport, RI (401) 851-1234
From White Plains: 3 hours
A $34 million renovation opened up the Hyatt Regency Newport to the water.
Patrons of the old Hilton then Sheraton then Doubletree now Hyatt Regency on Goat Island are pleasantly shocked by the bright, nearly all-glass entrance of the improved (to the tune of $34 million) resort. Once dark, dreary, and closed off to surrounding Newport Harbor, the reception area, newly realigned, segues seamlessly into an open lobby and Bar Five33 (homage to the circumference of torpedoes formerly built and stored on this property; structural columns cloaked in chrome actually look like torpedo tubes), and features unobstructed water and bridge views. The old parking lot was jack hammered out and replaced by a “great lawn” where games and events—and weddings—take place.
Rooms: Shipshape chambers sport a nautical motif in sea foams, teals, and teak. Bathrooms equipped with dark slate and marble-tiled showers as large as some New York City apartments are illuminated in part by sunlight streaming through rectangular cuts of frosted glass embedded in the interior wall. And, of course, you can watch, from floor-to-ceiling windows, all the maritime action in the harbor made famous by the America’s Cup Race.
Board: There’s no shortage of decent dining in Newport—Salvation Café (140 Broadway) wins accolades from every quarter. But in-house restaurant Windward has fashioned a surprisingly yummy assortment of shareable tapas. A perfect meal for two or three should include the crab cake Benedict (topped with Pinot Noir-soaked poached egg), marinated jumbo shrimp skewers, and lobster flatbread pizza on foccocia bread. For dessert, fight it out for the fried cheesecake ravioli.
Only Here: Book a 50-minute De-Aging Crème Fraiche Body Wrap at the hotel’s Stillwater Spa, which incorporates a vichy shower—a 10-shower-head contraption that swings over your treatment bed so you don’t have to move a muscle after being exfoliated and creamed back to youth.
While Here: Fall brings the Newport Mansion Wine and Food Fest and the International Boat Show, but if you’ve been there and done that with the wharfs, mansions, and Cliff Walk, sample wines at up-and-coming Newport Vineyards (newportvineyards.com) and the gorgeous, inlet-set Greenvale Vineyards (greenvale.com). According to oenophiles, Newport Vineyard’s Ice Wine is “the best in the world.”
Facts: Rooms are $169 to $450, but check the website for dozens of great packages that might include spa services, wine tastings, schooner sails, cocktails, mansion tours, and breakfasts for much less than you’d pay à la carte.
Woods Hole Inn
28 Water St /// Woods Hole, MA (508) 495-0248
From White Plains: 4 hours
The Woods Hole Inn is located just steps from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
Beth Colt and P.K. Simonds (producer of Ghost Whisperer) purchased a dilapidated hotel/boarding house, originally built in 1878, and turned it into a nautical chic, “vintage-restored” inn. With walls of turquoise and seafoam pastels, white wainscoting, distressed wood floors, and knickknacks cleverly displayed, the Inn is on the funky side of adorable. Across the street from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), it’s just a fishing rod cast away from the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. Woods Hole (which Colt nicknames WoHo), draws both island hoppers and brainy scientists to its almost-too-perfect-to-be-true fishing village environs.
Room: Nine rooms are witty studies in white with walls and pillows in emeralds, jades, and blues for punch. White furniture is topped with trinkets that can be found in Home Goods or local gift shops—and small white extremely clean bathrooms are stocked with handmade green starfish soaps. Ask for room #4 ($150-$280), which has a direct view of the Ferry and the WHOI Research Vessel (of Titanic discovery fame). Beyond the boats you view the serene harbor and at the end of the day a rapturous sunset over the harbor islands.
Board: Until late 2009, the inn did not have a resident breakfast chef, so reviews were, let’s just say, unkind. Enter Sara Dillon, foodie extraordinaire, hired to put the B in the B&B. Her soaked steel-cut oats granola and asparagus/caramelized onion tart are revelations. She happily bakes breakfast from scratch every day and, says the divorced Sara, “I’m the happiest housewife on the planet.” For lunch and dinner, try soup or salad at Pie in the Sky (10 Water St) or, if you want to feel like a pirate, have a beer at the 100-plus-year-old Captain Kidd (77 Water St). Discerning diners won’t have to go far at all. The pier-side Fishmonger Café (56 Water St) next door has an inventive chef who can purée cauliflower, cook fish, and sauté mushrooms to perfection.
Only Here: Colt is so sure that you’ll be enamored of the drawbridges, lighthouses, boat-filled harbors, and secret beaches in Woods Hole, she’s got a weekend photography package, which allows you to tag along with an award-winning photographer to make your own memories ($495 includes two nights’ lodging, a two-hour “photo walking tour,” and a copy of Walking Woods Hole, a guide to walking around Woods Hole, as a keepsake. After October 31, the price is $400).
While Here: Skip on over to the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry (steamshipauthority.com; $15 roundtrip) and spend the day on the island that celebs and presidents love—only 30 minutes away.
Facts: Room rates ($99-$325) include afternoon tea and coffee, chef-prepared gourmet breakfast, and free parking.
80 W Broadway /// Long Beach, NY (516) 889-1300/888 662-3224
From White Plains: 1 hour
At the Allegria Hotel’s Atlantic restaurant, glass jellyfish change colors while you dine.
Who would blame the spirits of former residents in this nursing-home-turned-boutique hotel if they decided to stick around? Redone in ultra-modern whites and glass, sandblasted dried-starfish-studded walls, and abutting the two-and-a-half-mile Long Beach boardwalk, Allegria Hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is heaven as conceived by its intrepid owner, real-estate developer Allen Rosenberg. Only 20 minutes from JFK airport, Allegria has become a big hit with international airline pilots.
Room: Imbued with sunlight, bleached wood floors, and streamlined shore-house décor, modern rooms have a beachy vibe. Compact glossy white bathrooms contain Joseph Christopher toiletries. Ask for a room ending in an even number 2-10 from which you can watch the jaw-dropping show of both the sunrise and sunset over the Atlantic Ocean horizon. Later in the inky darkness of night, lights from freighters at anchor shimmer offshore.
Board: If thumping techno-music in a splashy bar setting is your thing, by all means remain in the Londa-Lounge with its mirrated double-sided fireplace, trendy 24-person communal table, and white leather womb chairs. But don’t miss a good meal in the got-to-be-seen fantastical Atlantica Restaurant, where even guests facing the wall can spy the boardwalk, beach, and ocean through the magic of geometric mirrors. Overhead, massive glass-blown jellyfish turn from one neon color to another gradually, giving the room a hallucinatory glow.
Only Here: Take a brisk stroll along the two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk, which you can access from the lounge. You’d have to travel to the Hamptons or Montauk for another oceanfront hotel in New York.
While Here: Bring your surfboard or rent one at a local surf shop. Fall is the best time to catch big waves on Long Beach’s National Boulevard, a world-famous surfing beach.
Facts and Figures: Rooms and suites from $275-$700; WiFi, $12.95 per day.
Oyster Point Hotel
146 Bodman Pl /// Red Bank, NJ (732) 530-8200/(800) 345-3484
From White Plains: 1½ hours
The Oyster Point Hotel occupies the perfect spot on the Navesink River.
Set within an unfortunately ugly box of a building on the Navesink River, Oyster Point Hotel was fading until a $3.8 million top-to-bottom makeover put it back into play. With a new vitality, its 58 rooms on five floors are state-of-the-art and the contemporary lounge and deck areas now are deserving of the stunning views.
Room: Textured charcoal-hued carpeting in the hallways extends into newly funky, urban rooms. Stay in one of the redone suites, which feature Dux beds, large gray flannel tufted couches, white leather chairs, soft Sferra linens, black-out shades, and dramatic water views. Baths are too-cool-for-school black. Suite #308 is fully handicapped accessible, with roll-in deluxe marble shower, light gray tufted chairs and leather ottoman. Watch activity on the Navesink River from floor-to-ceiling windows.
Board: Red Bank is replete with dining options. For top-notch elegance, try Nicholas (160 Rte 35 S), which has won rave reviews from patrons.
Only Here: Take a drink out to the deck, lounge on all-weather cushion couches, and watch the eking-the-last-of-the-fall-season yachts arrive at Oyster Point’s private dock. If the weather is inclement, expert “mixologists” in the hip earth-toned communal-seating Pearl Lounge create the coolest concoctions for you in front of a striking contemporary “linear” fireplace.
While Here: Join a Ghost Tour (Dublin House at 30 Monmouth St), an entertaining way to learn the spooky history of this rivertown, Friday and Saturday nights through October. Red Bank is known for its performing and fine arts, and fall abounds with festivals and shows.
Facts and Figures: Rooms, $139-$229; suites, $269-$300
Juniper Hill Bed & Breakfast
Cornell University & Ithaca College
16 Elm St /// Trumansburg, NY (607) 387-3044/(888) 809-3167
From White Plains: 4½ hours
Juniper Hill Bed & Breakfast boasts a large collection of Impressionist paintings.
Bruce Digenti was “in electronics.” David Kuranda was a surgeon in Rochester, New York. They met on Match.com and shared a dream: to open a B&B that would also serve as an art gallery for Kuranda’s growing collection of American Impressionist paintings. They found a dilapidated 1920s Federal Colonial mansion right on the main road about 10 miles outside of Ithaca, New York. “It had all the original woodwork and moldings,” Digenti says, “but everything had to be stripped, repainted, and repapered.” The result is one of the most lauded B&Bs on Tripadvisor, winning 75 out of 75 top marks for ambience, service, and overall experience. High ceilings, interior French doors, glass built-in cabinets jammed with pearlescent glass and china, and every inch of wall space graced with confetti-brush-stroked Impressionist paintings, Juniper Hill brings opulence back to Roaring ’20s décor.
Room: Each of the four rooms (one a king suite with a separate queen sleeping porch) is lavishly done in period antiques. Think tassels, brocade, gilded frames and draperies, and, of course, winsome Impressionist paintings (priced for sale between $1,000 and $10,000). The Mary Cassatt Suite consists of a king room and a three-season queen sleeping porch ($275); perfect for two friendly couples or parents traveling with college-bound kids (ages 13 and up only).
Board: You can avail yourself of Digenti’s baked delights—M&M cookies or ambrosial brownies, for example—upon arrival, and there are always chips and drinks available for the midnight snacker. Digenti carries a hot pot of coffee up to your room first thing in the morning, but the pièce de resistance is his spectacular three-course candlelit gourmet breakfast, which could include cranberry poached pear, banana-bread trifle, and breakfast risotto. For dinner, walk a few steps to country-cool Hazelnut Kitchen (53 E Main), which has been winning the Ithaca crowd over since it opened.
Only Here: Bring a bottle or two of wine back from a local winery (there are 30 to 40 within a half-hour’s drive), and sip in the parlor in front of a warm fire. Or play Scabble or Yahtzee in the grand Game Room before choosing one of hundreds of recent DVDs to bring up to your room.
While Here: Wine/Gorges/Art—form the crux of the Finger Lakes Region’s attractions. You know what they say; “Ithaca is Gorges” and so is Trumansburg. Taughannock Falls State Park, with its stair-step waterfalls, is a favored romantic spot for Cornell and Ithaca students, especially in the fall when the dynamics of falling water is heightened by the eye-popping colors of autumnal foliage. October also brings the “Greater Ithaca Art Trail,” a cultural tour in upstate New York where participants get a chance to meet various artists on weekends.
Facts: Rooms are $175 to $275 and include a three-course gourmet breakfast for two, welcome baked goods, and snacks and soft drinks 24/7.
The Sayre Mansion Inn
Lehigh University & Moravian College
250 Wyandotte St /// Bethlehem, PA (877) 822-2110
From White Plains: 2 hours
The Sayre Mansion Inn was built by philanthropist Robert Sayre in the Gothic Revival style.
Longtime fans of this Gothic Revival brick mansion-turned-inn (in 1993) will be happy to find merely subtle changes after a recent updating. Mentioned in the U.S./Canada edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, this was Chef Emeril’s choice of lodging while he launched his two restaurants in the nearby Sands Casino last year. In 1850, prominent philanthropist Robert Sayre, chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, a director of Bethlehem Steel, and trustee of both St. Luke’s Hospital and Lehigh University, had his mansion built on the hill in order to overlook his gritty enterprises. The parlors and dining room are elegantly majestic, with unusual architectural details such as whitewashed, filigreed, cast-iron moldings and period paw-foot chairs, brass candlestick sconces, and columned and marbled fireplaces.
Room: Décor adheres to original opulent fashions of the day, though brand-new pillow-top, high-thread-count, disappear-into-down bedding has been added to up the comfort factor in each of the 22 rooms. The Robert Sayre suite ($235 per night) is particularly historic, with a bedroom in baronial blacks, burgundies, and gold complete with an amazing sitting room that features a soaring, gold-leafed domed ceiling and marble fireplace. This was once the home’s library where Sayre kept most of his 10,000 books. A private third-story conservatory ($260), with a glass ceiling, a small zen garden fountain, lots of plants, and modern appointments, is favored by honeymooners. In the fall, it is a glorious dappled sundrenched place.
Board: Breakfast is a big hit with business travelers who appreciate a warm and hearty morning meal in stately surroundings. Fresh flowers adorn a formal dining room table set for 12. For dinner, head out to the newest sensation, Bolete (1740 Seidersville Rd), set in an antique stone house and noted in now-shuttered Gourmet magazine. For jazz lovers, try the new speakeasy, The Bookstore Speakeasy (336 Adams St).
Only Here: This is America’s “Christmas City” (Bethlehem—get it?), so, from the end of November, you can bet your Advent calendar there’s something special to do every day leading up to December 25.
While Here: Bethlehem loves its fall festivals; one of the largest Celtic festivals in North America is held the last weekend of September, and harvest and food festivals run throughout October. The Bethlehem Historic District Association (bhdaonline.org) has a growing number of antiques and art galleries and boutiques. Take in world-class performing arts at Zoellner Arts Center (zoellner artscenter.org) at Lehigh University.
Facts: Rooms from $160 to $325 include afternoon pastries and tea, and a three-course gourmet breakfast.
UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center
Amherst & UMass
1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA (413) 549-6000/(877) 822-2110
From White Plains: 2½ hours
The UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center has all the modern amenities, including iPod docs and flatscreen TVs.
Several years ago, there were only two lodging options for parents who wished to visit their Amherst College or UMass students; the fading Lord Jeffery Inn, or the cinderblock-not-much-better-than-a-dorm-room Campus Center Hotel. Now, franchise motels have popped up on busy Route 9, the Lord Jeff is shuttered and—surprise, surprise—the totally gutted and renovated UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center has become the hip place to stay in the Pioneer Valley.
Room: The much-maligned drab concrete hallways are now bright, wide, bold yellow, and carpeted—leading to charming rooms you’d never recognize if you’ve been here before. Furniture is cleanly contemporary, with Herman Miller ergonomic desk chairs, funky quilted bedspreads tucked into platform beds, oversized pillows, iPod docks, 37” flat-screen TVs, and recycled polished concrete and glass counters in the white and navy bathrooms.
Board: HTM (Hospitality and Tourism Management) majors take classes in those state-of-the-art kitchens. Instead, head into downtown Amherst and put your name in at Judie’s Restaurant (judiesrestaurant.com), which has been dishing out its famous popovers for nearly 30 years.
Only Here: Take the elevator to the former TOC on the top floor for the best Pioneer Valley view in the five-college system.
While Here: During peak foliage season, head north to traverse Route 2, the most gorgeous New England drive that runs from Greenfield to Williamstown.
Facts: Rooms are $99 to $169; family suites are $225 to $350 and include free Internet access, parking, and extensive continental breakfast.
The Study @ Yale
1157 Chapel St /// New Haven, CT (203) 503-3900
Drive From White Plains: 1 hour
The lobby at The Study @ Yale plays up its connection to academia with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf.
Formerly the dusty Colony Inn, this New Haven newcomer could be confused with a swanky Crate & Barrel furniture showroom…with cocktails. A whimsical pair of colossal brass spectacles at the hotel entrance speaks to an academic influence, continued inside where a floor-to-ceiling geometric bookshelf holds a catalogue of art and architecture books. Passersby are enticed to peek into the Chapel Street-level window front and admire the sleek lobby-cum-study done up in hardwood floors, graphic-designed area rugs, leather and plush seating in blues, creams, and grays, scattered with flowers, pinecones, and other haute tchotchkes.
Room: A collegian’s fantasy dorm room study/mod suites sport light woods, heather teals, and earth browns. “Rumpled-look” duvets belie the ultra-luxe bedding beneath. Ergonomic chairs are tucked under work desks set with stocked mesh pencil cups. Cute blue-and-white seersucker robes hang in gleaming white subway tile and gray-veined marble bathrooms. To remind you where you are, stay in a room facing the spires of Yale University’s neo-Gothic buildings.
Board: In-house farm-to-table restaurant Heirloom does brisk business morning, noon, and night, with a fresh—and pricey—menu. For a truly unique experience, head a few blocks away to Miya’s (68 Howe St),“the only sustainable sushi restaurant in the Northeast” and, for sure, the only reflective, intellectual, quirky chef this side of San Fran, Bun Lai. With concoctions like “Kiss the Smiling Piggie Roll,” “Two Fish Cha Cha,” and the vegetarian “Killer Squid,” among hundreds of others, Bun says, “We don’t want trendy. We want accessible, world-class food while making fun of haute cuisine.” Lines start forming early.
Only Here: At check-in, you get two complimentary tickets to either the venerable Yale Rep (1120 Chapel St) across the street or the cutting-edge Long Wharf Theater (222 Sargent Dr).
While Here: Take a tour of Yale University (149 Elm St; Sat/Sun 1:30). Even if you’re old enough to have grandkids here, it’s worth it for the architecture and earnestness of the students alone.
Facts: Rooms and suites ($159-$359) include two free tickets to local live theatre.
Henniker House Bed and Breakfast
New England College
Corner of Main and Ramsdell Rd /// Henniker, NH (603) 428-3198; (866) 428-3198
From White Plains: 4 hours
Henniker House Bed and Breakfast offers lots of opportunities to relax on the 1920s porch.
The raging water and old stone bridges of the Contoocook River takes center stage at this five-bedroom country B&B, formerly a 1920s birthing hospital. “Think of it as going to your favorite aunt’s house,” says buoyant owner Kate Bartlet, who bought the place a few years ago, updated the rooms and, last year, added two more. Bartlet’s three Rs (“Relax, Renew, River”) are easy to follow once you venture past the bear pelt complete with bear head (shot and skinned by Bartlet’s companion, Phil) that sits on a dining room table.
Room: Ask for one of the newer suites (built in 2008), each with sliding glass doors that open to a private deck from which you can practically swan-dive into the fast-moving river below. Large enough to drive a truck through, each eclectically appointed room has a brass king bed, a twin day bed, and Jacuzzi bathroom. (Arranged for parents taking their kids on the college tour). A gorgeously vibrant king-sized multicolored quilt hangs on the wall going up to the second-story room, a gift from a quilting club that routinely gathers here to stitch.
Board: Bartlet’s signature breakfast—yummy puffed apple pancakes, made with apples from a local orchard owned by a guy who was born in the house—is served in the best room in the place, a solarium with unobstructed views of the Contookook. Pickings are slim in town, but you can’t beat the river views from casual Daniel’s Restaurant right next door.
Only Here: Bring or rent a bike and take one of Bartlet’s favorite mapped-out routes. She’ll send you on a serious ride through stunning foliage and river
While Here: If there’s an early snow, skiers “under 16 and over 60” will love Pats Peak Ski Resort (24 Flanders Rd, 603-428-3245), according to Bartlet. If old books are your thing, drive a mile across the bridge to Old #6 Book Depot (603-428-3334) with 160,000 tomes of all kinds and ages. This is a word-of-mouth place with no discernable signage or website—and looks like someone’s backyard garage until you walk in; the sheer number of volumes on a labyrinth of stacks will astound you.
Facts: Five rooms range from $95 to $165 per night and include a deluxe homemade breakfast.
Middlebury College 14 Court Sq /// Middlebury, VT (802) 388-4961/(800) 842-4666
From White Plains: 4 ½ hours
Middlebury Inn’s shabby-chic rooms offer four-poster beds.
This grand lady is 183 years old and has had more facelifts than most of the Hollywood elite. But the 71-room Middlebury Inn retains a distinguished “shabby chic” character. “For a dear old gem, she’s really kept up,” says a staff member, who points out the “human operated” wrought iron elevator off the main room. In the center of this college town, the Inn has spread out to encompass a main building, the Porter Mansion, and some ill-conceived motel units that bring the curb-appeal down a few notches. Last year, a courtyard garden was added to beautify the entrance from parking lot into the lobby, (which formerly looked like a service entrance), flat-screen TVs were placed in most rooms and free WiFi was made available throughout the inn.
Room: A grand ballroom was once located on the third floor, explaining the wide hallway (to accommodate the hoop skirts of the day) and soaring 12-foot ceilings. Ask for a four-poster queen deluxe room with sitting area; new navy floral carpeting, fresh paint, and white comforters have freshened up fading accommodations. Though bathrooms, with black-and-white mosaic floors, are small and clean, they honestly could benefit from an upgrading as well.
Board: The inn lays out a bountiful, complimentary afternoon tea with baked sweets, warm and cold tea, and lemonade in a Federal-style lobby full of wing-backed chairs and other vintage furniture. In Morgan’s Tavern (the in-house restaurant) elbow up to the one-of-a-kind bar—cut from a rare vein of Vermont Swanton Red Marble. This being a college town, there is a broad range of eateries within walking distance. Crowd-pleasing American Flatbread at the Marbleworks (americanflat bread.com) offers every conceivable foodstuff on flatbread toasted in a large wood-burning oven.
Only Here: Gaze over the waterfall that cascades under the Main Street stone bridge, then walk a few steps to Vermont Folklife Center (vermontfolklifecenter.org), where an innovative interactive computerized “quilt” tells the story of small town and farm life. In the evening, take in a live show at the $5 million-renovated Town Hall Theater (townhalltheater.org).
While Here: See “America’s Finest Breed of Horse” at University of Vermont’s Morgan Horse Farm (uvm.edu/morgan), open daily from 9-4 from May until the end of October.
Facts: Rooms and suites are $119 to $269 including afternoon tea, passes to Vermont Sun Fitness Center, early morning coffee/tea and 24-hour Business Center.
The Hotel Hershey Woodside Cottages
Hershey, PA (717) 533-2171
From White Plains: 3½ hours
The 1933 Hotel Hershey satisfies your sweet tooth by dispensing chocolate bars upon check-in.
The product that made Milton Hershey a household name—chocolate—dominates everything here; at Hershey Park, on Chocolate Avenue, downtown where the streetlights are Kisses, and, of course, at The Hotel Hershey where you get your choice of dark or milk chocolate at check-in. Big-hearted philanthropist Hershey put 600 people to work during the Great Depression in 1933 to build this marquee hotel. It’s a place where everyone—from infants to oldsters can gather happily. So when talkative family members started having mid-night pow-wows in the hallways disturbing other guests, Hershey Hotel folks hatched a plan. Create luxury cottages that are part of but away from the main building so that Grandpa Joe and Cousin Rick can reminisce into the night without worrying about keeping their guffaws down. Part of a staggering $67 million expansion that includes a recreational area, a Kids Club building, a stand-alone locavore restaurant and other enhancements, the Woodside Cottages have proven to be an immediate hit.
Room: Soothing neutral shades of butterscotch, chocolate browns, and greens, each large bedroom is lusciously appointed. No radical décor, just comfy, very upscale accommodations (think Louis XIV meets Williams-Sonoma Home). But, um, someone’s got a masochistic sense of humor: all massive, tumbled-tile floored bathrooms sport digital scales. Book two cottage rooms and you can get a center “great room” as part of the deal. Reserve four or six separate bedrooms and the whole cottage becomes your personal estate for the night. It’s a hugely successful recipe for gatherings—the cottages are nearly always booked since opening in May 2009.
Board: Naturally, sweets take center stage—but the new and excellent Harvest Restaurant is dedicated to “farm-to-fork” cuisine. In some cases, the “farm” is within arms length—some of the herbs and veggies are grown right outside the kitchen. The renovated domed circular dining room in the main building remains a spectacular, sunlit space where an award-winning Sunday brunch is often sold out (so make reservations when you book your room).
Only Here: Luxuriate in a 15-minute patented hot- cocoa bath ($45) or other tasty treatment at the incomparable Chocolate Spa, take a historic tour of the hotel (Mon-Wed-Fri at 10 am), or hang out in the breathtaking mosaic, arched and sky-painted Fountain Lobby, inspired by the Heliopolis Hotel in Egypt.
While Here: Fall is a fabulous time to visit Hershey, with half-price weekend admission in comparison to the summer prices to Hershey Park in the Dark, “Creatures of the Night” at the ZooAmerica (100 W Hersheypark Dr, 717-534-3900, zooamerica.com), and a bevy of activities right on the vast Hotel Hershey campus. Ice skate year- round on a special polymer surface rink (bring your own skates or rent for $3). And don’t miss a visit to the Milton Hershey School (1201 Homestead La 717-520-2000, mhs-pa.org)—a free boarding school for 1,800 disadvantaged kids as young as five—supported by Hershey product profits. The school just celebrated its 100th year; you will truly be moved.
Facts: $279 to $534 per room includes chocolate bar at check-in, discounts to Hershey Park, free shuttle to local attractions, free passes to area museums, and a host of amenities.
Lake Placid Lodge
144 Lodge Way /// Lake Placid, NY (518) 523-2700/(877) 523-2700
From White Plains: 5 hours
Lake Placid Lodge’s rooms give you the feeling of sleeping in your own private treehouse.
The Gilded Age Adirondack Camps, where oil and steel barons came to recreate, made rugged chic. Lake Placid Lodge, a Relais & Châteaux property, is “rugged-chic” of the highest caliber. After a fire destroyed the main building (keeping most cabins intact), new owner David Garrett hired 40 local artisans to re-interpret camp design for the cosmopolitan set. (Check out Tom Yacovella’s tribute to the Whitetail made from hundreds of shed antlers—yacovellart.com/sculpture.php—yours for $100,000.) The Lodge’s current incarnation retains the purity of tradition—lots of twigs, bark, and logs as structural and design elements—bolstered by a transcendent dining and lodging experience.
Room: At $1,250 per night, it’s got to be transcendent. What can justify lodging at such stratospheric rates? Well, you are securing a Swiss Family Robinson tangled-tree-limbs suite in the main lodge or a slice of lakefront property—ripples lapping up to your picture window—for a night or two. Complete privacy, complete indulgence. It’s Pendleton blankets and birch bark furniture with butler service. Ask for the Owl’s Head Cabin—a hotel room like the Bentley is a car—with a bed you need to pole vault into and unsurpassed views of Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain as backdrop. The considerably large but cozy glossy wood bathroom includes a shower, sauna and soaking tub.
Board: In the main lodge, a low-key French sommelier will recommend the best vintages (emphasizing that Lake Placid Lodge is Tattinger Champagne’s #1 account in Northeastern U.S.A.) in casual Maggie’s Pub. Maggie is the resident champagne-hued Golden Retriever who never misses an opportunity to hike with guests, and you can chomp on upscale pub-fare, Maggie at your feet, in front of a roaring stone fireplace. Or dine elegantly in the next room at Artisans, which offers outside seating on a wrap-around porch from which you’re likely to behold a spectacular moonrise over Buck Island.
Only Here: Hotel investor David Garrett has one of the largest collections of Hudson River School of Art paintings in the world and he uses Lake Placid Lodge as his personal gallery. While sipping your “welcome” Champagne, investigate these, along with the intact birch tree that thrusts up from the basement floor to the third floor ceiling in the center of a log staircase. Ask for a complimentary tour around the lake in the Lodge’s 35’ Hacker-Craft or take one of the mountain bikes out for a spin. While Here: Over two weekends in the fall (Sept. 5-8, Oct. 17-20), Jones Outfitters and Lake Placid Lodge offer a great Orvis Fly-Fishing School deal. For $1,495, you and a friend get two nights lodging, one Helios Fly Rod (worth $750), and guided tours and fly-fishing instruction on the West Branch of the Ausable River.
Facts: $385 to $1,500 per room per night includes welcome Champagne, and a half-bottle wine, cheese and crackers en suite, nightly bonfire, unlimited water, soda and snacks, use of mountain bikes, kayaks, complimentary lake tours and the ever present personal service. Off season, rooms can be had for 50 percent off peak prices.
1 Bluff Ave /// Watch Hill, RI (401) 584-7000/(888) 552-2588
From White Plains: 2½ hours
The Ocean House sits on a bluff overlooking Watch Hill harbor.
Climbing the bluff that overlooks Watch Hill harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, you can almost hear the joyous shouts of Victorian era travelers as they haul their steamer trunks to the portico of this splendid yellow and white resort. Former fans recall small rooms, shared bathrooms, squeaky plumbing, and warped floors, though most claimed it the “most stunning location in the world.” Originally constructed in 1868, by 2003 the 159-room Ocean House had deteriorated to the point where the top two floors were dangerously uninhabitable and “you could put a marble on the dining room floor and it would go in circles it was so warped,” says Director of Communications Dinah Saglio. To the rescue, New York investment advisor and Watch Hill summer resident Charles Royce, who had the heart and resources (raising $140 million) to reimagine the Ocean House as a 49-room “Preferred Boutique” hotel. Too expensive to renovate, the structure was disassembled and rebuilt as an exact historic restoration using 5,000 original pieces, some of which make up the external clapboard, railings, front door, wavy windows, reception desk, and a stone fireplace in the lobby. With a focus on exceptional service and warm hospitality, the Ocean House has been winning over the community and past guests since it reopened in May.
Room: Colors and appointments mesh harmoniously with sand and sea. Amply upholstered chairs, walls, window treatments and Frette bedding in subtle blues, pinks and yellows; rooms were designed to feel like a friend’s summer shore home—with free WiFi and HD TV’s. Observe your beloved relaxing in a deep soaking tub through clever cut-through shutter windows that open onto the bedroom. Shower floors are made of round beach stones and bathroom subway tile floors mimic those of yesteryears. Though pricier, all rooms on the second floor have large terraces caressed by ocean breezes ($355-$855).
Board: The small-plates menu for in-house Seasons Restaurant is created daily from ingredients freshly plucked by Ocean House Food Forager (yes, that is her job title) Pamela Stone. A team of enthusiastic young chefs craft dishes that are creatively conceived, often witty and ultimately scrumptious. For foodies who’d prefer to observe cooking action over surfers catching waves, ask for a coveted counter seat facing the demonstration kitchen. The darkly paneled Club Room offers a less formal chophouse style cuisine and a 2,500-square-foot deck overlooking the private beach below.
Only Here: Tagged onto the room expense, a $24 per person “resort fee” saves you from digging in your pocket every time a valet, porter or concierge does you a service. It also avails you of various fall season classes and amenities, such as the ability to tag along with Stone on her foraging expeditions to on-site herb gardens and local fish markets and farms, Yoga in the OH! Spa, surf casting lessons on the beach, or beefing up your croquet skills on the resort’s championship croquet lawn.
While Here: Poke around the tiny downtown of Watch Hill. In Autumn, all the cute shops are still open.
Facts: Rooms, $260-$855; family suites, $500-$10,000 per night. Daily $24 per person resort fee includes all gratuities, afternoon tea with freshly baked goods, constantly restocked private bar, parking and valet, WiFi, and selection of daily resort activities.
Inn at Westwynd Farm
1620 Sand Beach Rd /// Hummelstown, PA (877) 937-8996
From White Plains: 3½ hours
Horses roam at the Inn at Westwynd Farm.
Not every redo is contemporary highbrow. Sometimes, it’s about giving the people what they want. When Carolyn Troxell and her husband, Frank, transformed their 32-acre working horse farm into a B&B in 2002, they discovered that the “Jacuzzi room” was sold out nearly every day. People were actually tussling over the bookings. What to do? Last year, they created a whole new wing with four Jacuzzi-in-the-corner bedrooms and added jetted bathtubs to existing rooms, ending up with an extremely popular inn. There are more living rooms and dens, and more complimentary baked goods and unlimited soft drinks here than in most lodgings, making this an ideal place for family and friends reunions.
Room: With an ambience ripped from the pages of a romance novel, each pasture-view room has a fireplace and bedside Jacuzzi and are done up in whites and creams offset by deeply colored window treatments and bedding. Carolyn loves hauling antiques back from weekend shows, so rooms showcase an eclectic assortment of distressed old-timey furniture.
Board: Westwynd Farm is known for its three-course hot breakfast served in the just-built cathedral-ceiling great room or on an outside patio besides a koi pond. Gluten-free? Diabetic? Vegetarian? No problem: Carolyn can cook to your specs. For dinner, try The Chocolate Avenue Grill downtown (ChocolateAvenueGrill.com), offering an inventive and delish take on all things cocoa.
Only Here: Watch a variety of horses, alpacas, and burro gambol all over a vast expanse of farmland (they are particularly frisky in the spring and fall) and pay a visit to the barn next door. This is, after all, horse country though some guests are surprised to discover that downtown Hershey is a mere three miles away.
While Here: Car buffs will love the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, aacamurseum.org), which showcases dozens of iconic motorcars displayed in a hanger-sized building that is fast becoming a hotspot for “quirky” weddings. The largest international flea market and car swap takes place from October 6 to 9 here. Pick up a souvenir in the museum’s Dog House Garage shop on your way out.
Facts: $109 to $189 per room gets you unlimited baked snacks, soft drinks, and gourmet three-course breakfast for two.
19 Rock Hall Rd /// Colebrook, CT (860) 379-2230
From White Plains: 1¾ hours
Rock Hall was designed by “starchitect” Addison Mizner.
Five years ago, New Yorkers Michael and Stella Somers purchased Addison Mizner-designed Rock Hall as a weekend home in the swanky Litchfield County woods. They decided to sink a bunch of bucks into plumbing and electronics and, preserving its authenticity, opened their newly designated National Historic Site as a five-room “resort.” Just one of two homes that Florida “starchitect” Mizner built in New England, this Mediterranean/Moorish/Scottish mash-up features chestnut paneled walls, quarter-sawn chestnut floors, and a massive poured-concrete fireplace. Enter the front door into the cavernous reception hall where you’re invited to enjoy a signature “Rock Hall” martini (vanilla and coffee liquors) or wine served in Lalique crystal stemware.
Room: Ask for Chamber 2—the spruced-up spacious master bedroom—with bright-orange Indian print duvet and luxe bedding, private balcony, wood-burning fireplace and a department-store-worthy three-way mirror. The Somers kept the torture-chamber-esque special-feature shower—a 100-year-old surround-shower that looks like a Victorian corset, designed to spray water evenly on every part of your body though it ends up soaking every part of the bathroom.
Board: Michael has been lauded for his home-cured gravlax—which is set out, along with fresh-fruit salad, locally-made granola, Stella’s blueberry jam (made from blueberries pick on the property), cheese, and olives on a Victorian sideboard in the formal dining room. Slip a slice of just-cooked frittata or French toast on Royal Mail Staffordshire Ironstone ware beneath an appropriately weighty 19th-century French crystal chandelier. For dinner, there are several options—the closest is Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Norfolk (infinityhall.com), a three-mile drive, which serves good burgers and grilled fish in a restored live theater.
Only Here: Pick a bushel of apples from the on-site orchard. Bring your tennis rackets and play on Rock Hall courts. If the weather is still warm, take a dip in the heated pool. Stay in at night to watch a movie in the “cinema” complete with popcorn maker, Junior Mints and Raisinettes (gratis), or play pool on a 1926 Brunswick Arcade table in the billiards room. If all that is not enough, there’s ping-pong, Foozeball, and Wii’s Dance Dance Revolution on the third floor.
While Here: Ask for the gourmet picnic basket ($15-$25 per person, must be ordered 48 hours ahead) and head out to the local waterfalls. Stella will provide you with a map. Or catch a show at Infinity Hall.
Facts: Rooms ($250-$375) include Michael’s lauded gravlax along with a several- course breakfast, welcome cocktail, and use of all resort facilities including heated pool, tennis courts, movie room, game rooms, and gym.
Rooster Tail Inn
11 Cornwall Rd /// Warren, CT (860) 868-3100
From White Plains: 1½ hours
The quaint charm of the Rooster Tail Inn belies space-aged amenities.
With a name like Rooster Tail, you’d expect the place to embody country and cutsie and chintz, but nothing could be further from the truth; rooms manage to be comfy, cheeky, and forward-looking. Owners Maureen (Mo) and Clifford Jones—local builders—fell into inn-ownership in 2007. “Locals stopped to talk to us as we were rebuilding this place, saying, ‘You have to open this up to the public,’” Mo says. “So we felt it was almost our duty.” Using guest rooms as showcases for friend’s hand-made Quaker-like furniture Mo and Cliff took a street-front eyesore and styled it right onto a growing number of “must-stay” lists.
Room: Okay, I have to come right out and say it. The bathrooms are the most absurdly futuristic, space-age salles de bains I have ever encountered at home or away. The electric toilet/bidet combination (self-cleaning, I might add) and computer-programmed jet tub have to be seen to be believed. The commode cover lifts up on its own as it senses your presence. Contemporary eclectic rooms infused with shades of light mustard and other serenely neutral hues are beautifully appointed, with one-of-a-kind hand-made bureaus, sleigh beds, flourishes incorporating rooster paraphernalia, and 46-inch flat-screen TVs. Bedding is cloud-soft divine, and oh, did I mention the bathrooms?
Board: The raucous crowd in the tavern downstairs may include Joan Rivers or “Mrs. Kissinger” or one of many celebs and non-celebs who consider Litchfield County their home or second home. Suffice it to say that diners become fans become fanatical cheerleaders for both the restaurant and inn. Breakfast (included) borders on great with the most sublime ginger scones on
Only Here: Take a spa-like bubbly soak in a super-duper jetted tub; this is not your mother’s Jaccuzi. It’s like going to Baden-Baden for the waters.
While Here: The NASCAR side of Paul Newman favored Lime Rock Park (limerock.com), where you can take classes at the resident Skip Barber Racing School or leave the pros to it—just a few miles from here.
Facts: Six rooms and suites from $295 to $550 include multi-course chef’s breakfast and free WiFi.
Nothing makes travel writer Malerie Yolen-Cohen happier than hitting the road to discover the newest, luxurious, coolest and most tweeted about hotels, inns and B&B’s that are just a short drive away.