Located in Westerly, Rhode Island, Weekapaug Inn represents the quintessential New England retreat. Courtesy of Weekapaug Inn.
Some charming, others trendy, these easy-drive hotspots in New England offer quaint and rejuvenating vacation stays.
Written by Charlotte Johanna Blumenfeld, Jessica Jafet, Gina Valentino, Abbe Wichman, and Laurie Yarnell. Edited by Gina Valentino
The Mayflower Inn & Spa
Like many people who used pandemic downtime for discreet nips and tucks, the Mayflower Inn & Spa (aubergeresorts.com/mayflower) took a few months during that period to refresh its look. A member of the ultra-luxe Auberge Resorts Collection, the Mayflower opted for a makeover rather than a full-on facelift, the result being a modern update that stays true to its roots as an exquisite yet welcoming country hideaway. This special venue, set on 58 private acres in bucolic Litchfield County, is just an hour-and-15-minute car ride from White Plains and is the site of many second homes of the quietly rich and famous.
The Mayflower’s design transformation was led by celebrated New York designer Celerie Kemble. The project included all 28 guest rooms and seven suites, along with the historic main house, home to its gracious parlor and new fine-dining restaurant, the delightful Garden Room, as well as the more casual Tap Room. The new look, a modern take on sophisticated New England style, introduces fresh florals, colorful patterns, and contemporary art. And while such timeless touches as romantic four-poster beds remain, more dated damask and crystal lamps have been switched out for sisal carpets, handcrafted ceramics, and whimsical wicker.
The Mayflower’s exceptional 20,000-square-foot spa boasts a superb indoor pool and a most peaceful relaxation space. Its comfy chaises, topped with uber-soft throws, face a serene view of woodlands and a pond through floor-to-ceiling windows. Lush gardens, hiking trails, rowboats and canoes, a tennis court, and an outdoor pool round out the on-site amenities. But no matter how you spend your time at the beautifully reimagined Mayflower, do leave room for after-dinner s’mores and Irish coffee at the enchanting new firepits, located near the main house. Seasonal rates from $646. – Laurie Yarnell
Mount Sunapee, Newbury, New Hampshire
Road trips are all about escape, relaxation, and finding unexpected adventures. One’s lodging should enhance that experience and become a rich part of the memory. Such is the philosophy behind Bluebird by Lark, a sister brand of Lark Hotels that was launched in 2021 and is transforming existing roadside hotels and motels into stylish and affordable boutique destinations.
In May, Bluebird Hotels introduced Bluebird Sunapee (bluebirdhotels.com/hotels/Sunapee), a nature-lovers’ getaway located in the Sunapee region of New Hampshire, minutes from Mount Sunapee State Park, on Lake Sunapee, and across the street from Vail’s Mount Sunapee Ski Resort, in Newbury.
What was once the Best Western Sunapee Lake Lodge has been reimagined into a 53-room base camp where solo travelers, couples, and families can settle in to enjoy four seasons of classic New England activities — like hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and alpine skiing — in a gorgeous tableau.
Rob Blood, the company founder and president, says he discovered the special sauce for bringing best practices to these hidden-gem properties. “We recreate them for the modern traveler,” he says. “There is a segment that’s really under-served from a design and institutional-quality-management perspective.”
To that end, the hotel offers storage lockers for gear, wall-mounted bike racks, and boot dryers, along with a game room and cozy lower-level lounge. The rooms feature wood floors, wainscot paneling, and luxury bedding with alpine-inspired accents.
After spending a day in the great outdoors — which might include taking in the mountain-meets-lake beauty of Lake Sunapee on a boat ride or water-ski tour by Goodhue Boat Company, grab a local brew at the Salt Hill Pub Shanty, right next door to Bluebird Sunapee, where you can contemplate next-day plans. Antiquing? A fall-foliage hike? Stargazing around the hotel’s outdoor firepit? The sky’s the limit. Seasonal rates from $134. – Jessica Jafet
Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa
The natural beauty of the Berkshires is matched by the magnificence and serenity found at Miraval Berkshires Resorts & Spa. Whether you’re taking one of the on-site wellness or fitness classes, reveling in a spa treatment, or exploring its myriad outdoor offerings, a stay here allows communion with nature and with oneself. Ensconced among the mountains, you’ll likely be inclined to adopt the property’s reminders to unplug and enjoy a digital-free stay.
A four-season resort, the property features a series of enclosed breezeways connecting rooms to dining spaces, the spa, and fitness classes. In warmer climes, you’ll want to explore outdoors, perhaps alongside fauna. Learn how to be an equine whisperer in a Common Ground class, as you work with a horse in a ring, using nonverbal communication. There’s also Donkey Discovery, through which guests learn a placid pace by observing the donkeys.
Wellness classes range from mindfulness and meditation, power yoga, kickboxing, and spin. The beautifully appointed spa is where to soothe tired muscles or pamper yourself. The Vibrational Sound Therapy massage combines massage with singing bowls placed on the body, which are struck to create vibrational waves. Exclusive to Miraval is a Vasudhara service, which combines the weightlessness of water with Thai massage stretches. For aquatic immersion, visit the lovely pool.
But that’s just the tip of the mountain. Experiences on-site include the Culinary Kitchen, which offers a class on how to eat a more plant-based diet; Journey to Mindfulness in Golf, a wellness class set on a golf course and ideal for those who may be frustrated with their game; and an array of hiking and biking trails near the property. New to Miraval this year (the resort opened in 2020) is Wyndhurst Mansion. The stunning brick building features guestrooms, a formal dining room, and a wood-paneled bar that transports guests to a bygone era. Seasonal rates from $949/person.* – Abbe Wichman
*Nightly rate includes accommodations, resort credit to use toward spa services & private sessions, all meals, nonalcoholic beverages, complimentary airport shared-shuttle service, and access to daily complimentary well-being activities and resort amenities.
Stowe is synonymous with snowcapped slopes, picturesque trails, and a bustling après-ski scene. While the tiny town (population: approx. 600) thrives as temps drop and flakes fall, Vermont’s moniker, the Green Mountain State, must be recalled, as the region’s lush landscape during spring and summer makes it the quintessential destination for all four seasons.
To hang your hat here any time of year, book a stay at Edson Hill, a serene, secluded boutique hotel that received a thoughtful, sophisticated refresh by the incoming owners roughly eight years ago. Just minutes away from the famed Stowe ski mountain, the family-owned rustic retreat is set on 38 classic acres of Vermont topography and offers a covetable blend of modern amenities, understated elegance, and a respectful nod to Mother Nature and the past.
After the owners decided to restore the historic property, they enlisted a Boston-based interior design firm with family ties to expertly preserve the integrity of the estate while modernizing spaces with contemporary conveniences, engendering a rustic elegance. The sprawling estate’s accommodations include eight Manor House rooms and 15 Guest House rooms, featuring wood-burning and gas fireplaces, freestanding soaking tubs, and heated radiant flooring, and plush bedding for deeply restful nights.
The culinary experiences on the premises represent casual fine dining, with offerings of local cheeses and wine and thoughtfully crafted small plates, like charred octopus with an unexpected wasabi aioli, and tuna crudo. Decadent meals, which change seasonally, can include duck prepared two ways, accompanied by buttery fingerling potatoes, and sweet treats like a flourless chocolate torte and airy cloud cake, all of which can be enjoyed on the patio overlooking the expansive property. Herbs, veggies, and edible flowers grown in the on-site garden embellish culinary creations and craft cocktails, like the popular-for-a-reason Thyme After Thyme gin libation.
For an active stay, join the legions of fitness-minded locals for a bike ride or stroll into town (on the way, stop at fashion boutique Well Heeled for oversized cashmere sweaters and classic accessories); cool off in the property’s pool or sparkling pond; or pay a visit to the Nordic Center on-site, followed by a cross-country ski.
A charming and well-appointed escape, complete with intentional personal touches, Edson Hill is the ideal destination for a cozy, romantic getaway year-round or for a majestic yet intimate wedding. Seasonal rates from $450. – Gina Valentino
The Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club
Few locales can claim to be both unpretentious and chic; Kennebunkport is one such place. The town feels timeless rather than trendy yet is also unmistakably fun to explore. It’s comforting and refreshing all at once, like the Tea Time cocktail from Batson River Brewing & Distilling, a short stroll from the well-appointed Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club.
Built in 1965 and renovated in 2018, The Yachtsman offers a getaway that proves luxury needn’t be fussy or uptight. The hotel bar doubles as a reception desk, suggesting that a relaxed, good time awaits right from the get-go. The property’s 30 harborfront bungalows each feature a sun-drenched private patio just steps from Kennebunk River. Cleverly landscaped, these private, outdoor enclaves offer both sweeping views of the surrounding marinas and a cozy feel that makes them perfect for enjoying a glass of wine in an Adirondack chair as the sun sets. Frequent and welcome visitors include sociable paddlings of ducks.
The interiors of these airy bungalows marry classic New England motifs with fun, whimsical decor. White shiplap walls are a nod to coastal Maine’s rich traditions and history, while custom-made mango statement headboards bring a quirky, imaginative quality to the riverbank getaways. Thoughtful details — like the lacquer furniture’s door-knocker-style brass hardware, Malin+Goetz toiletries, and the tasseled blanket atop each bed — lend chic finishing touches.
It’s easy to work up an appetite in Kennebunkport, as fun activities abound. Hop on one of The Yachtsman’s complimentary bikes (e-bikes are also available for $75/day) and head to Goose Rocks Beach. Stop by the nearby Tides Beach Club for summery cocktails and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, a popular hiking, fishing, and birding destination. Downtown Kennebunkport’s art galleries and adorable shops provide ample opportunity for retail therapy.
To satiate that aforementioned hunger, visit nearby Nunan’s Lobster Hut, which hits the spot with an authentic, no-frills version beloved by locals and visitors alike (no trip to Maine is complete without lobster). Other local culinary standouts include Earth at Hidden Pond, known for its creative farm-to-table fare, and Rococo Ice Cream, which is home of flavors like Banana Red Hot, Goat Cheese Blackberry Chambord, and Nacho Nacho.
If, as is often said, “cool” is never trying too hard, Kennebunkport and The Yachtsman got cool in spades — chic enough for a jet-setter’s summer getaway; no plane tickets necessary. Seasonal rates from $399. – Charlotte Johanna Blumenfeld
Westerly, Rhode Island
In Westerly, RI, a certain stately, historic, yellow Relais & Châteaux waterfront resort is an oft-noted reference, as is Taylor Swift’s neighboring 11,000-square-foot estate. But if you venture out of the Watch Hill area, to nearby Weekapaug, you’ll discover the quaint and elegant Weekapaug Inn, a cozy property with a storied past, spectacular views, and plenty of cred (it’s the sister property of the famed, aforementioned Ocean House.)
Weekapaug Inn was conceived in the late 19th century and was restored about a decade ago to offer locals and visitors alike tasteful accommodations, vast views, and access to the local lifestyle. The beachfront resort is located on the state’s shoreline, overlooking Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic. The nautical backdrop complements the New England-style accommodations.
Rooms can boast views of the pond and are complete with king-size beds sporting lavish linens, freestanding soaking tubs, and plenty of natural light. The vibe of the property as a whole is coastal tranquility, with fireplaces in common areas that provide an ideal setting for cozying up or roasting late-night s’mores.
The cuisine at the restaurant on the premises highlights the region, with farm-to-table dining options that include such local selections as Quonnie Rock oysters, and standpit entrées, like pan-seared Stonington scallops. The spirits program is ever-evolving, with options like a well-balanced Empress 1908-based lilac-hued libation, along with such dessert-inspired alternatives as a salted caramel cocktail.
New is the property’s Pooch Pet Program, to ensure a comfortable stay for furry companions. The program offers a concierge to arrange for pet-sitting, an in-room dog-dining menu, and amenities galore.
Bask in the serenity of this quiet and discreet inn or enjoy a plethora of activities, like boating excursions, outings with the property’s resident naturalist, and wine tastings with the inn’s sommelier. Seasonal rates from $720. – Gina Valentino