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Ski Country's Best Beds

Ski Country's Best Beds

Travel East
By Sandy Macdonald
posted: 08/22/2001

One of the advantages of sleeping around-which I more or less do for a living-is that you gain a sense of perspective. One inn's "fabulous" bedroom, for instance, could pass for another's broom closet decked out in flea-market rejects. Trying to scope out an inn without visiting it, even with the aid of sophisticated interactive websites, is harder than decoding those pesky black-diamonds on ski area trail maps: Ratings for excellence, like skiing expertise, tend to reflect a local sliding scale.

For this feature we scoured the countryside for "the best of the best"-not just the places that truly rise above the rest, but the individual rooms that do the same. Some are, not surprisingly, on the pricey side; others are refreshingly not so. They range from retro-cozy to ultramodernist chic, but have one common denominator: Entering any of these rooms is like discovering an untouched powder shot. Before you know what's up, the sheer shock and delight will dislodge an audible "aah," leaving you elated.

Editor's Note: Rates listed reflect a range from low season for least expensive room to high season for most expensive room. All inns offer public dining, except as noted.

Adair Country Inn: Away from It All
Bethlehem, N.H.
If you didn't know to look for it (a few turns off I-93, thus within a half-hour of Cannon, Loon and Bretton Woods), you'd never know this gorgeous 1927 neo-Georgian manse was here, overlooking its 200 Olmstead-designed acres. Of the 10 rooms named for local mountains, I favor Lafayette ($235), a sunlit suitelet (it used to be two rooms) with a cherry four-poster at one end, a cast-iron fireplace at the other and an inviting white loveseat in between. Bring on the novels and bonbons! Both of which might also be enjoyed, along with other pleasurable activities, in the two-person soaking tub.
Rates: $165-$345. Information: 888-444-2600; www.adairinn.com.

Lake Placid Lodge: Rusticating in Style
Lake Placid, N.Y.
Conceived as a comparatively proletarian alternative to its sister property, The Point (where rarefied-rustic rooms start at $1,000 a night), The Lodge is a far cry from spartan. Hand-crafted log beds are cushioned in down and warmed by massive stone fireplaces, and fresh cookies await bedside. Of the 37 rooms (some tucked into the original 1882 lodge), we like the lakeside cabins best-especially the Whitney ($600), which, with its preponderance of red-and-black plaid offset by zebra-print accents, reads like an Adirondack-style safari camp ("Somebody bagged a farmer," we couldn't help joking). Fifteen miles of cross-country trails unfurl outside the door, and, across Mirror Lake, Whiteface hulks expectantly.
Rates: $325-$800. Information: 518-523-2700; www.lakeplacidlodge.com.

Wheatleigh: Just What the Contessa Ordered
Lenox, Mass.
Built in 1893 as a wedding present for an American countess-by-marriage, this neo-Palladian palazzo in the heart of the Berkshires-Bousquet is nearby-always had good bones. Now, after a four-year, multimillion-dollar overhaul, it's drop-dead gorgeous-in a kind of understated, not-trying-too-hard mode (think Gwyneth Paltrow). The makeover artists, architect/designers Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown, are certifiably cool (hotelier Ian Schrager hired them to do his own apartment), and in their hands minimalism doesn't amount to sensory deprivation. If the palette in the 19 bedchambers is on the subdued side, it's all the better to underscore the spaces' natural features-the nubbly texture of raw silk bedspreads, the wash of winter light. With its fireplace and lake-view balcony, a room like 2G ($765) is a floating island of peace and luxury.
Rates: $365-$965. Information: 800-321-0610; www.wheatleigh.com.

The Inn at Ormsby Hill: New American Panache
ManchesteCenter, Vt.
"Colonial" is not always a selling point in my book: I've endured far too many creaky beds and bumped foreheads in the name of historical accuracy. However, visionary innkeepers Ted and Chris Sprague attacked this formal manse-once a dorm for prep school boys-with an unerring eye for creature comforts. The newest of 10 rooms, called the Tower ($355), is arranged on three levels. The first level is a small study. Then comes the arch-ceilinged bedroom with tiger-maple bow-top canopy bed and remote-control fireplace. At the very top, past a window affording a peek at Bromley (10 minutes away; Stratton is 20), is a porcelain tower of a bathroom, with double steam shower and a corner jacuzzi for two. Bedside, a trio of esoteric cookies (mmm, a poppyseed madeleine!) hints at the breakfast repast that's in store for you: a four-course extravaganza-complete with dessert-that will leave you more than mountain-ready.
Rates: $190-$370. Information: 800-670-2841; www.ormsbyhill.com. No public dining.

Windham Hill Inn: Masterful Serenity
West Townshend, Vt.
If I were a captain of industry, the Meadowlook loft ($325) is where I would hole up for R&R-in a tartan-swagged four-poster flanked by a fieldstone fireplace and a soaking tub that commands a sweeping valley view. Let the underlings thrash out details in the granite-walled conference room below! I'll be skiing-on the six miles of groomed cross-country trails that swoop around this 160-acre hilltop, or at Stratton, Mount Snow/Haystack, Bromley or Magic, all of which are within a half-hour's drive. Hell, I'll stay a fortnight, so as to delectate the extraordinary dinners and perhaps dictate my memoirs.
Rates: $200-$325. Information: 800-944-4080; www.windhamhillinn.com.

Kedron Valley Inn: Country Charm Manifest
South Woodstock, Vt.
Perhaps it takes a New Yorker to capture the quintessence of Vermont. Innkeeper Merrily Comins, coming off a high-stress career on the Wall Street of the Eighties, drew on her Oklahoma childhood-and her family's heirloom quilts-to warm up this classic 1828 brick-and-clapboard stagecoach inn, conveniently poised within easy striking distance of Ascutney, Okemo and Killington. Each of the 27 rooms is cozily accoutered with antiques, hand-stenciling and lots of quilts (there are several score, all told-a veritable museum's worth). But there's nothing musty about a sun-washed room like No. 2 ($221), with its rockers, needlepoint rug and inviting brass-trimmed fireplace. You half expect Grandma to come tuck you in.
Rates: $120-$221. Information: 800-836-1193; www.innformation.com/vt/kedron.

Pitcher Inn: A Back-Roads Treasure Trove
Warren, Vt.
Shielded from Route 100 and only a few miles from Sugarbush and Mad River, the village of Warren is frozen in time, even though its perfect new centerpiece inn-a replacement of the 18th-century original-is of a rather brash vintage: 1997. The 11 rooms are so intensively themed (each celebrates an aspect of Vermont), they could pass for an oh-so-tasteful fantasy motel. You'll want to stay in the Ski Room ($550), of course-a barn-framed attic. Its king bed was cobbled from toboggans; its coverlet is made from recycled ski parkas; and the very curtains are composed, according to the inn's own literature, of "long underwear accented with found mittens." It may sound precious, and it is-a real gem.
Rates: $300-$600. Information: 888-867-4824; www.pitcherinn.com.

Stowehof Inn: A Peak With Personality
Stowe, Vt.
This 44-room hotel-a 1949 memento of the alpine fever that swept Stowe just after World War II-juts from its 30-acre hilltop like an errant Austrian ark. Recently treated to a $1 million makeover by new owners Chris and Susan Grimes, the inn has retained its quirky individuality (rough maple tree trunks are incorporated into the décor of the multilevel living room), while adding new amenities, such as the Poolhof: a spa annex with indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. In addition to its cathedral ceiling, Room 44 ($225) has some welcome new touches: a fluffy duvet for its lace-canopied king four-poster and a Victorian settee that nicely offsets a giant gilded mirror of similar vintage. What hasn't changed is the front-row view of Stowe's Front Four.
Rates: $75-$175. Information: 800-932-7136; www.stowehofinn.com.

The Inn at Thorn Hill: Coziness Incarnate
Jackson, N.H.
Despite its distinguished pedigree (it was designed by Stanford White in 1895), this gambrel-roofed country house seems intent on setting visitors at ease, as opposed to impressing them senseless. Even the top-floor Presidential Suite ($270) is notable not so much for its premier appointments-gas fireplace, wet bar, double jacuzzi-as for its buttery lushness and priceless Mount Washington view. A half-dozen ski areas, including untrammeled Wildcat, lie within a half-hour's drive; Jackson's inimitable cross-country trail network is steps from the door; and the inn's own restaurant-the very best in the area-is on premises.
Rates: $190-$400. Information: 800-289-8990; www.innatthornhill.com.

The Victoria Inn: Let The Bodices Rip!
Bethel, Maine
By rights, several of the 15 rooms in this turreted 1895 painted lady (minutes from Sunday River and Mt. Abram) should come equipped with their own Fabio clones-they're that paperback-romantic. Demi-canopied antique beds, rich wallpapers and lavish drapes: That's the gist of the decor, and anything you read in is your own affair. Room 4 ($175) is relatively sedate, despite its seraglio-like swoop of golden gauze, hand-carved armoire, lion's-head chair and green marble night stand (all imported from New York's Plaza Hotel, where Ivana must have been cleaning house). In certain instances the effect can be a bit over the top, but for some people (you know who you are), too much is just right. If you really like it, buy it: It's for sale.
Rates: $75-$279. Information: 888-774-1235; www.thevictoria-inn.com.

Sandy MacDonald is the author of Quick Escapes Boston: 25 Weekend Getaways from the Hub (Globe-Pequot). She lives in Nantucket, Mass.inn has retained its quirky individuality (rough maple tree trunks are incorporated into the décor of the multilevel living room), while adding new amenities, such as the Poolhof: a spa annex with indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. In addition to its cathedral ceiling, Room 44 ($225) has some welcome new touches: a fluffy duvet for its lace-canopied king four-poster and a Victorian settee that nicely offsets a giant gilded mirror of similar vintage. What hasn't changed is the front-row view of Stowe's Front Four.
Rates: $75-$175. Information: 800-932-7136; www.stowehofinn.com.

The Inn at Thorn Hill: Coziness Incarnate
Jackson, N.H.
Despite its distinguished pedigree (it was designed by Stanford White in 1895), this gambrel-roofed country house seems intent on setting visitors at ease, as opposed to impressing them senseless. Even the top-floor Presidential Suite ($270) is notable not so much for its premier appointments-gas fireplace, wet bar, double jacuzzi-as for its buttery lushness and priceless Mount Washington view. A half-dozen ski areas, including untrammeled Wildcat, lie within a half-hour's drive; Jackson's inimitable cross-country trail network is steps from the door; and the inn's own restaurant-the very best in the area-is on premises.
Rates: $190-$400. Information: 800-289-8990; www.innatthornhill.com.

The Victoria Inn: Let The Bodices Rip!
Bethel, Maine
By rights, several of the 15 rooms in this turreted 1895 painted lady (minutes from Sunday River and Mt. Abram) should come equipped with their own Fabio clones-they're that paperback-romantic. Demi-canopied antique beds, rich wallpapers and lavish drapes: That's the gist of the decor, and anything you read in is your own affair. Room 4 ($175) is relatively sedate, despite its seraglio-like swoop of golden gauze, hand-carved armoire, lion's-head chair and green marble night stand (all imported from New York's Plaza Hotel, where Ivana must have been cleaning house). In certain instances the effect can be a bit over the top, but for some people (you know who you are), too much is just right. If you really like it, buy it: It's for sale.
Rates: $75-$279. Information: 888-774-1235; www.thevictoria-inn.com.

Sandy MacDonald is the author of Quick Escapes Boston: 25 Weekend Getaways from the Hub (Globe-Pequot). She lives in Nantucket, Mass.

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