With the weather warming up, one might be seeking a change of scenery — and some destination-worthy dining. These five New England inns and boutique hotels, with stunning surroundings and cushy amenities, fit the bill, each offering food that warrants the drive from Boston.
Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina
Newport, Rhode Island
Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina is a seaside enclave on Goat Island, surrounded by sweeping views of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. In fact, all 257 guest rooms and suites offer water views, with the soothing tones of the beach finding their ways into the minimal but comfortable decor.
Work up an appetite by exploring downtown Newport — only a quick walk away — and head back to the hotel for drinks and light bites of oysters and more at the lounge with its outdoor fire pits on the deck, set to reopen late this month.
Onsite restaurant Showfish, meanwhile, looks to other shores for inspiration, with a “best of the Hamptons” menu based on Gurney’s Star Island in Montauk, New York. The light-flooded and window-wrapped dining room invites diners to dive in for breakfast and lunch, with offerings of eggs Benedict (opt for the house-made crab hash add-on) and roasted chicken with mint and English pea risotto brightened by lemon confit. Dinner makes waves too with a seafood focus, like the “angry lobster” featuring a pound and a half of lobster served with fluffy white bread for dipping into the fermented and fiery house-made Sriracha, along with pan-seared halibut with lobster, quinoa, and miso brown butter beurre blanc.
Mayflower Inn & Spa
In case a winter trapped indoors has unlocked an urge to splurge, take a gander at the Mayflower Inn & Spa. The escape in Washington, Connecticut, features 30 rooms and three standalone cottages on a posh country estate-like backdrop of 58 gorgeously landscaped acres. Certain suites offer fireplaces and private balconies that overlook the woodland or gardens, with an onsite furnishings boutique called the Huntress offering a bit of retail therapy.
If relaxing and unwinding is more your speed, the 20,000-square-foot wellness facility, the Well at Mayflower Inn, boasts an indoor spa pool, plus an outdoor pool for the warmer months, along with fitness classes, massages, and other treatments.
For dining, the aptly named Garden Room restaurant overlooks the Shakespeare Garden and delights with seasonal New England fare. The upscale eatery offers a four-course fine-dining menu — with dish choices including chilled local oysters with seasoned and spiced pork fat and mignonette foam, duck breast served with wine-poached pear — plus a six-course menu.
Those looking for bites in a more laid-back atmosphere can dig in at the Tap Room, with its pub fare and playful bar snacks. Menus at both spots rotate frequently, which is more of a reason for a return trip.
Red Lion Inn
During treks to the Berkshires, why settle for one hotel when you can choose between a handful of unique lodges in a little village in Stockbridge? Dating back to 1773, the 82-room main lodge of the Red Lion Inn features rooms and suites that sing with vintage and historic-inspired details, from four-poster beds to ornate wall coverings. Then there’s the rustic country charm found among 17 guest rooms in the separate Maple Glen guesthouse, and the unique village houses, perfect to book for a group getaway. To approximate life in a Norman Rockwell paining, opt for the Firehouse, a two-story guest house located in a former firehouse used by the town until the 1950s.
Whichever of these past-inspired pads you stay in, the dining room in the main house presently offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a historic dining room dripping with crystal chandeliers. Savor a sweet start to the day with cinnamon French toast made with Pittsfield Rye cinnamon burst bread and served with creme anglaise and berry compote.
Lunch and dinner fare include both traditional plates and New England interpretations served up on antique china, like bowls of house-made creamy clam chowder and soul-warming shepherd’s pie with venison and red wine stew topped with duchess potatoes. The more laid-back Widow Bingham’s Tavern, meanwhile, features filling favorites in a family-friendly setting, from turkey sandwiches with stuffing to fish and chips with Barrington Brewery beer-battered haddock.
The Reluctant Panther
Reluctant might be the name, but don’t hesitate to stay at this 20-key luxury hotel if your travels take you to Manchester Village in southern Vermont. Accommodations in the main house and the adjoining Carriage House and Mary Porter House include art-filled rooms where visitors cozy up by fireplaces with a book in vintage-inspired separate sitting rooms. Plus, deluxe suites boast soaking tubs and private outdoor decks that peek onto the grounds.
If you can drag yourself out of the luxe bedding, the onsite restaurant dishes out contemporary American cuisine for dinner, with an accompanying wine list that’s received multiple shout-outs from Wine Spectator. Upscale-leaning plates like lobster and brie fondue with pancetta and baguette slivers for dipping, or crab-stuffed trout with creamy mushroom risotto and chardonnay sauce, sing with sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. The grilled filet mignon with beef sourced from Boyden Farm up by Stowe just might be the menu’s star, served up with peppered potatoes and a black garlic sauce.
Stage House Inn
South Berwick, Maine
The building that now houses the Stage House Inn in South Berwick, Maine, has seen a lot of life. First constructed as a family home, the spot has been a tavern (where the likes of President James Monroe and General Lafayette wet their whistles), a convent, and more. In 2020, new owners revived the spot as an inn rich with original details, from mantels to the original staircase.
You can spy this past perfection at the onsite restaurant, Dufour, which is inspired by the building’s history as a convent for nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph Order with arched windows, church pew seating, and a stunning panoramic wallpaper from the 1820s. The fare has a French focus, from the gooey pastry-wrapped baked camembert cheese drizzled with local honey and topped with candied walnuts and pear and cranberry chutney, to the rich rabbit ragout with hand-rolled garganelli pasta. The charcuterie board, too, with a rotating selection of local meats and cheeses alongside Dufour’s house-made bread and pickles, is an ideal snack.