30 Great Inns
Searching for that perfect hideaway?We combed the nation for the best undiscovered inns and B&B's, and found something for every taste. From mountaintop lodges to beachside cottages, desert oases and wine-country manors, here are 30 of our new favorites—plus five all-time classics worth the splurge
- Milliken Creek Inn
- Napa, CA | Until Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, opened last fall, everything south of Yountville was only a car-window blur for visitors to California wine country. With the addition of Milliken Creek Inn last year, the town of Napa has a stopover so stylish and tranquil that you'd want to visit even if Copia weren't just around the corner. British Campaign décor is softened by strategically placed Buddha heads and votive candles; the rooms invite lazy self-indulgence. All 10 have fireplaces and spa baths, brushed twill robes and lemon verbena—scented soaps. Conspiratorially, the innkeepers suggest breakfast in bed—not a bad idea, considering the fluffiness of the duvets. Then again, you could throw open your terrace doors and breakfast alfresco to the gentle gurgling of the Napa River. After a few days like this, who needs the wineries up the road?
- 1815 Silverado Trail; 888/622-5775 or 707/255-1197, fax 707/255-3112; www.millikencreekinn.com; doubles from $275.
- Greenporter Hotel
- Greenport, NY | The burgeoning wine region of Long Island's North Fork had a noticeable lack of top-notch hotels until last summer, when help arrived in an unexpected form: the Greenporter, fashioned out of a 1957 motor court in the maritime village of Greenport. A $5 million renovation has created a clever tribute to Mid-Century Modern style—and a fresh alternative to the typical wine-country inn. With floors of bright maple, bare walls painted celadon, and sleek aluminum furnishings, the 15 guest rooms are all about cool minimalism. Annick Goutal bath products are a nice touch, as is the heated outdoor pool. While Greenport is only a short ferry ride from Shelter Island and an hour's drive from the Hamptons, wineries are the real draw: two dozen are clustered on the North Fork. (The hotel's La Cuvée Bistro & Bar has 45 wines by the glass, many of them local.) Construction is under way on an annex that will hold 13 more rooms and a full-service spa, expected to open by Labor Day—just in time for the grape harvest.
- 326 Front St.; 631/477-0066, fax 631/477-2317; www.thegreenporter.com; doubles from $165.
- Goodstone Inn & Estate
- Middleburg, VA | It's hard to guess which will make you giddier: the visits to a clutch of northern Virginia's vineyards-on-the-verge, or the kindly offer of the can-do inn staff to give your car a sudsing. Once part of the Warburg banking dynasty's Snake Hill Farm, the Goodstone Inn commands 265 acres of prime hunt country. Its four affectionately restored buildings, which date from the mid 19th century, shelter 13 French- or English-inflected guest rooms. One, the Carriage House, is a former stable now adorned with burnished heart-of-pine floorboards, classically correct Palladian windows, and a soaring cathedral ceiling. Sunday ritual: nursing a mint julep while watching fox hunters vault by. Guiltiest pleasure: a sundown soak in the outdoor hot tub, with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- 36205 Snake Hill Rd.; 877/219-4663 or 540/687-4645, fax 540/687-6115; www.goodstone.com; doubles from $275.
- The Mojave
- Palm Desert, CA | What could be better for a desert getaway than a low-slung, renovated mid-century motel?Built in the late forties, when Palm Springs (just a two-hour drive from Hollywood) became a movie-star playground, the Mojave closed briefly for a makeover last summer, reopening in September. The 24 rooms are done up in ocher and tomato-soup orange, with French Moderne repro furniture and mini-bars stocked with retro snacks (remember Necco wafers and Nehi soda?). The central garden has a pool, spa, and several citrus trees. So what if the poolside continental breakfast is as minimal as the décor—the grapefruits were picked right here! Just a block away from El Paseo, the Rodeo Drive of Palm Desert, and a stone's throw from the Living Desert wildlife sanctuary, the Mojave delivers low-budget panache.
- 73721 Shadow Mountain Dr.; 800/391-1104 or 760/346-6121, fax 760/674-9072; www.hotelmojave.com; doubles from $99.
- Houses of the Moon
- Santa Fe, NM | You won't find chile ristras, "genuine" reproduction O'Keeffe paintings, or howling coyote sculptures at Houses of the Moon, four miles outside Santa Fe. With tansu chests, Noguchi lamps, and wood-block prints, this Zen-inspired retreat is more Japan than desert Southwest. The eight rooms offer the perfect antidote to an overdose of Santa Fe style, but it's what lies beyond them that makes this inn so special. Head down a path through the piñon trees, and you'll stumble upon a true oasis: Ten Thousand Waves spa, a Japanese onsen, or hot springs, bathhouse. Soak in a private hot tub, get a body wrap, or indulge in the sybaritic Four Hands, One Heart massage (two therapists work on you simultaneously). And when you're done, you can return to your room, put on some samisen music, and compose a haiku about the moonrise over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
- 3451 Hyde Park Rd.; 505/992-5003, fax 505/989-5077; www.tenthousandwaves.com; doubles from $190.
- Hacienda del Sol
- Tucson, AZ | In the 1940's, the Hacienda del Sol was a celebrity hideaway. Clark Gable called it "my little hacienda," John Wayne rode horseback in the surrounding Catalina foothills, and legend has it that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn fell in love here. The stucco Spanish-style ranch house still attracts guests in search of solace, old-fashioned adventure (trail rides, horseshoe games), and romance (the gardens are popular for wedding receptions). While the décor in the three casitas and 27 guest rooms errs on the side of Southwestern sweet circa 1997 (when the hotel was renovated), the public areas haven't changed much since the Hacienda was built in 1929 by Helen and John Murphey as a private girls' school. Helen carved the beams in the library and hammered many of the tin lamps that light the Hacienda's paths and hallways. Since it opened six years ago, the Grill has become one of the top restaurants in Tucson, not only for its menu—wood-fired rack of Colorado lamb in a minted Zinfandel glaze, applewood-smoked duckling with black-currant-and-pomegranate vinaigrette—but for its setting, overlooking the city lights. The veranda is the only place to be, even on brisk desert nights.
- 5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Rd.; 800/728-6514 or 520/299-1501, fax 520/299-5554; www.haciendadelsol.com; doubles from $59.
- Hob Knob Inn
- Martha's Vineyard, MA | Don't worry if you track beach sand through the front door at the Hob Knob Inn, minutes from the ferry dock in Edgartown. The staff at this 20-room Gothic Revival retreat won't blink an eye; on the Vineyard, you're expected to dig castles on the tide line, ride old-fashioned cruiser bikes, and fish for striped bass off Gay Head on the inn's 27-foot Boston Whaler. Freshly squeezed lemonade and hot scones with local berry preserves greet you on the front porch; breakfast is served in bed, and picnic baskets are always packed for a day at the shore. (Pail and shovel optional.) The Hob Knob may just spark a revival for glazed English chintz: yards and yards drape the guest rooms, which have that classic style—quilted bedspreads, floral wallpaper, overstuffed chairs, varnished antiques—generally found in prominent Yankee family compounds. As a young senator, JFK slept here. Probably felt right at home.
- 128 Main St.; 800/696-2723 or 508/627-9510, fax 508/627-4560; www.hobknob.com; doubles from $225.
- Palms Cliff House
- Honomu, HI | On the eastern shore of the Big Island, 13 miles north of Hilo and 100 years back in time, stands the Palms Cliff House. Built on a former cliffside plantation, the inn still maintains an unhurried gentility. Each morning, you'll climb from your Italian lace—trimmed sheets to watch from your lanai as the sun rises over migrating humpback whales, and then sit down to a breakfast of fruits plucked from the adjacent gardens: rambutan, breadfruit, mango, six kinds of banana. Nearby, a short trail leads to Akaka Falls, which spill 420 feet down a lava-rock cliff fringed in palm trees and ferns. At the end of the day, let a massage therapist rub you with heated lava rocks soaked in oil as you drift off to the sound of the surf. That's life on the quiet side—passing the time where time doesn't pass at all.
- 28-3514 Mamalahoa Hwy.; 808/963-6076, fax 808/963-6316; www.palmscliffhouse.com; doubles from $175.
- The Mermaid & the Alligator
- Key West, FL | With at least 80 inns and B&B's squeezed onto the eight-square-mile island, Key West may well be America's most "inn" town. So what makes the Mermaid & the Alligator stand out?Try the crystal chandelier glittering from the royal poinciana tree out back, or the plunge pool with built-in bench for sipping Meursault. Or is it simply that the inn, though only a 10-minute walk from the beach, hides in a palm and bromeliad jungle, secure from tourist-mobbed Duval Street?The owners intended to create a respite from Key West's hubbub when they bought the 1904 Victorian house five years ago. They planted every exotic they could find, then decorated the rooms with refreshing details like Polynesian tapa cloths and Haitian and Cuban artwork depicting island life. None of the nine guest rooms have phones or TV's, but instead encourage lingering at mahogany writer's desks. But first, you'll need to check in at the kitchen—there's no reception desk here.
- 729 Truman Ave.; 800/773-1894 or 305/294-1894, fax 305/295-9925; www.kwmermaid.com; doubles from $108.
- Darby Field Inn
- Albany, NH | Just three miles from the constant buzz of Conway's main drag, the hilltop blue-clapboard Darby Field Inn stands alone in a clearing overlooking a panorama of dense forests and rounded peaks. All of the White Mountain National Forest is at your feet. That film-devouring view—visible from most of the recently renovated rooms and the casual main dining room—is what has been luring guests to New Hampshire since the rambling 1826 farmhouse was first converted into an inn in the late 1940's. The age-warped wooden floors, creaky narrow staircases, and rough plaster walls hung with portraits of the craggy faces of former owners give the place an agreeable "Grandma's house" feel. (Okay, who's going to break it to Grandma that she's gone a little overboard with the floral wallpaper?) Try one of the sunny corner rooms, including the small but blessedly spare No. 12, or one of the new second-floor fireplace-and-whirlpool suites. The inn has award-winning perennial gardens, a network of hiking trails, a heated swimming pool—and did we mention the view?
- 185 Chase Hill Rd.; 800/426-4147 or 603/447-2181, fax 603/447-5726; www.darbyfield.com; doubles from $90.
- Blue Lake Ranch
- Hesperus, CO | At this ranch, 15 minutes west of Durango, Colorado, you could be fooled into thinking you have 200 acres of Four Corners Country all to yourself. Owners David and Shirley Alford designed the inn's 16 cottages and Southwest-style casitas with solitude in mind. But you're far from alone: the La Plata Mountains keep watch at nearly every window, and in the spring, heirloom flowers bloom everywhere. Wander through a field of 10,000 irises or shoulder-high hollyhocks. Even as you sink into the outdoor whirlpool tub, tendrils of sweet peas float across the water. Ponderosa pine ceiling beams and oak furniture made by local artisans give the interiors a quiet mountain-lodge allure. After a breakfast buffet of green-chile stew, tamales, breads, and homemade preserves, Blue Lake's staff will arrange for an Indian guide to tour the ruins with you at Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
- 16000 Hwy. 140; 888/258-3525 or 970/385-4537, fax 970/385-4088; www.bluelakeranch.com; doubles from $145.
- Lodge on Gorham's Bluff
- Pisgah, AL | The four-story, white-frame manor sits on a 700-foot-high promontory above northeast Alabama's Tennessee River Valley, and the vistas seem borrowed from a Thomas Cole painting: Appalachian hillsides shrouded in forest, tugboats plying the vast river beyond, a bald eagle or two overhead. Six spacious guest rooms are done up in old plantation style, all polished mahogany, chintz, and antique Oriental rugs; four have private porches for serious valley-gazing. Evening arrives with river breezes, the thrum of katydids, and a four-course Southern dinner (bring Lipitor). The village of Gorham's Bluff is actually a 28-person start-up community akin to Florida's Seaside, with a focus on the arts—the town planners are setting aside studios for artists and an amphitheater for performances. A chamber music series runs from June 4 to 15; the Alabama Ballet is in residence in July; and a monthlong theater festival starts in mid-August. Pleasantville, indeed.
- 101 Gorham Dr.; 256/451-3435, fax 256/451-7403; www.gorhamsbluff.com; doubles from $130.
- Old Monterey Inn
- Monterey, CA | Stay in the garden cottage (formerly a toolshed) at the 10-room Old Monterey Inn and you may wind up muttering "Zone seven, zone seven," in homage to the climate in which green thumbs wish they could live. Monterey possesses the magical conjunction of sunshine and precipitation that will germinate just about anything stuck in the ground. And every square inch in the one-acre garden of this 1929 neo-Tudor manor house is covered with jasmine, wisteria, hydrangea, rhododendrons, and dwarf canna lilies. More than 100 trees, including California oaks, redwoods, and Monterey pines, shade the English-style hedges. Vintage birdhouses hide in gnarled tree limbs. Each guest room has a feather bed and down comforter, and most have a wood-burning fireplace to ward off the chilly coastal fog (nature's sprinkler system). Hanging plants echo the riot of blooms and climbing ivy that press against your window. During breakfast au jardin, you'll be dazzled by a sea of candy-colored impatiens. Try to resist the urge to break out your heirloom seed catalogs till you get home.
- 500 Martin St.; 800/350-2344 or 831/375-8284, fax 831/375-6730; www.oldmontereyinn.com; doubles from $240.
- Hope & Glory Inn
- Irvington, VA | If you're extravagantly romantic, you'll love this eccentric spot on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay shore. The 1890's butter-yellow schoolhouse is surrounded by old-fashioned gardens. Colorful buddleia, or butterfly bushes, heirloom roses, and walls of lavender wisteria are merely part of the amusing stage set created by owner Bill Westbrook. A large, music-filled living room dominated by columns entwined with vines, wildflowers, and white pin-lights is an invitation to tarry on mismatched overstuffed furniture. Whimsical folk art pieces such as birdcages, model ships, and mirrors by artist Brad Stephens complete the Alice in Wonderland effect. In seven upstairs rooms and four cottages, bedsteads are fashioned from wooden fences and flea market finds. Each cottage has an enclosed patio; all share an antique shower and footed tub where you can bathe by the light of the moon. After biking, boating, or antiquing, a Southern dinner at the Trick Dog Café across the street is a must. Chef Joe Merolli's crab cakes and char-grilled black tiger shrimp will be the best you've ever tasted.
- 65 Tavern Rd.; 800/497-8228 or 804/438-6053, fax 804/438-5362; www.hopeandglory.com; doubles from $135.
- Sundy House
- Delray Beach, FL | Just 20 minutes from Palm Beach, Delray Beach—the so-called village-by-the-sea—may be one of southern Florida's best-kept secrets. Perhaps that's why the town has always attracted creative minds. Set on an acre of lush gardens with streams, parrots, and more than 5,000 species of plants, Sundy House is a Victorian landmark where an eight-term mayor once lived. Guests meander through the gardens to reach four town house—style apartments and the stand-alone honeymoon suite, a one-bedroom cottage furnished with a sleek sofa, flat-screen TV, fireplace, and Jacuzzi. Nearby, in the former stables, six new rooms have patios with views of the swimming pool. While the pool is all-natural (no chlorine), swimming au naturel is strictly for the birds.
- 106 S. Swinton Ave.; 561/272-5678, fax 561/272-1115; www.sundyhouse.com; doubles from $165.
- Inn at Mountain View Farm
- East Burke, VT | Aspiring gentlemen farmers, beware. Stay at this ridgetop 440-acre estate in northeastern Vermont, and come Monday morning you may find yourself drafting your resignation letter and boning up on the Zen of udder care. Built as a model farm in the late 1800's by New York hotelier Elmer Darling, the property was flawlessly restored in 1990. Guests stay in 14 antiques-filled rooms and suites, either in the brick Georgian Colonial former creamery or in an adjacent farmhouse. Meals are served in the creamery's sun-flooded dining room—once the epicenter of cheese and butter production. Three massive barns house the inn's cows, horses, pigs, and turkeys, and stalls are available for guests' horses. Don't travel with a steed?A mountain bike will do: fat-tire enthusiasts flock to the 100 miles of trails around the inn.
- 3383 Darling Hill Rd.; 800/572-4509 or 802/626-9924, fax 802/626-3625; www.innmtnview.com; doubles from $115.
- Old Inn on the Green & Gedney Farm
- New Marlborough, MA | Longtime fans of this arcadian 250-acre property in the Berkshires, a working dairy until 1989, have been enjoying a heady second-time-around romance since the opening last year of the stately Gedney Manor annex. The turreted granite house was most recently a boys' school dormitory; great care has been taken to restore the original and elegant residential floor plan. Placed on the second and third floors, for expansive views of the sweeping lawns, wetlands, and first-growth forests, are 12 guest rooms furnished with highly stylized wing chairs, gracious pedestal tables—and perfect pitch. Of course, for those who are allergic to change, there is always the Old Inn, a circa-1760 relay stop for mail coaches on the road to New York State, and Gedney Farm, a barn that does not disappoint: it's red. As summer heats up, so does the antiquing, lake swimming, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and concerts at Tanglewood.
- 36 Hartsville New Marlborough Rd.; 800/286-3139 or 413/229-3131, fax 413/229-8236; www.oldinn.com; doubles from $175.
- Home Hill French Inn & Restaurant
- Plainfield, NH | When Stephane and Victoria du Roure bought this imposing but dated riverfront inn, they set out to transform the 1818 mansion—surrounded incongruously by hardscrabble New Hampshire dairy farms and apple orchards—into a Provence-on-the-Connecticut retreat. They have succeeded brilliantly. French and American antiques decorate the 12 guest rooms (six in the carriage house are newly renovated), where earth tones and toile are set off by timeworn hardwood floors. Paris-trained Victoria prepares outstandingly authentic dishes (salt-crusted sea bream, pot-au-feu) with ingredients flown in daily from the south of France. Dine overlooking the landscaped grounds (including a clay tennis court and small swimming pool), then complete the French illusion by sipping an after-dinner pastis by the pétanque court.
- 703 River Rd.; 603/675-6165, fax 603/675-5220; www.homehillinn.com; doubles from $175; dinner for two $120.
- Boothby Inn
- Erie, PA | A hundred years ago it was known as Millionaires' Row, a proud and leafy street of handsome red-brick houses with crisp white latticework, stained-glass windows, and convivial porches where bottomless pitchers of fresh lemonade slaked summer thirsts. Thanks to second-career innkeepers Gloria and Wally Knox, one such historic residence six blocks from the shore of Lake Erie has been gently coaxed into Boothby Inn. Restoring the house, the couple ruled out new hardware in favor of replating the original brass doorknobs and decorative hinges. Similar standards prevail at breakfast, where the sticky buns, lemon soufflé pancakes, and blueberry croissant "French toast" are all freshly made. Four guest rooms are admirable for the unselfconscious way they express their themes—tartan and four-poster for "Scotland," an effusive toile and a rooster lamp for "France." True to its Victorian past, Boothby defines a foursquare ideal of the American good life.
- 311 W. Sixth St.; 866/266-8429 or 814/456-1888, fax 814/456-1887; www.theboothbyinn.com; doubles from $110.
- Coombs House Inn
- Apalachicola, FL | Most Floridians don't know Apalachicola, a 19th-century former cotton town lazing beside a Panhandle bay dotted with islands and beaches so quiet you can hear the fiddler crabs. Those who do say it reminds them of Key West in the 1950's, when fishermen far outnumbered the tourists and gingerbread houses were preserved down to the last spindle rail. In Apalach (as the 2,300 locals call it), none is as well preserved as the Coombs House Inn, a 1905 Victorian across from a Civil War—era cemetery. Miami designer Lynn Wilson styled 19 guest rooms (eight are in a nearby 1911 house) with Asian rugs and Indonesian poster beds, but she kept the porches simple with wicker chairs and rockers. Spend the morning watching fishermen whisper by on bicycles draped with cast nets, the air flush with the smell of corn bread baking inside oak-shaded bungalows. Come dusk, take a stroll in the cemetery, where owls whoop among the resurrection fern that climbs the Confederate gravestones.
- 80 Sixth St.; 850/653-9199, fax 850/653-2785; www.coombshouseinn.com; doubles from $89.
Plus 5 All-Time Classics
When you want your every whim indulged and money's no object, don't forget these perennial favorites:The Point 222 Beaverwood Rd., Saranac Lake, N.Y.; 800/225-3530 or 518/891-5674, fax 518/891-1152; www.thepointresort.com; doubles from $1,300. Mayflower Inn 118 Woodbury Rd., Washington, Conn.; 860/868-9466, fax 860/868-1497; www.mayflowerinn.com; doubles from $400. Twin Farms Barnard, Vt.; 800/894-6327 or 802/234-9999, fax 802/234-9990; www.twinfarms.com; doubles from $900. Inn at Little Washington Middle and Main Sts., Washington, Va.; 540/675-3800, fax 540/675-3100; www.relaischateaux.com/washington; doubles from $340. Meadowood 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, Calif.; 800/458-8080 or 707/963-3646, fax 707/963-3532; www.meadowood.com; doubles from $460.
Forestville, CA | Where do you prefer to be pampered—bedroom or bath?Bath people, consider a restored 1873 Sonoma County farmhouse inn, painstakingly refurbished by a fourth-generation wine-growing family. Eight cottages stand swathed in roses and morning glories, each with its own private spa: redwood sauna, whirlpool tub for two, lots of bath teas and gels, and oversized towels to cocoon in. As for you bedroom people, each cottage also has a wood-burning fireplace and four-poster feather bed with a hand-sewn duvet and Egyptian cotton sheets. Once you've settled in, call the concierge to arrange an in-room deep-tissue, reflexology, or aromatherapy massage. There are bike rides, a swimming pool, a lavishly praised restaurant. But who cares?You'd have to leave your room. And that's just not an option.
7871 River Rd.; 800/464-6642 or 707/887-3300, fax 707/887-3311; www.farmhouseinn.com; doubles from $160.
Inn at Castle Hill
Ipswich, MA | Situated on a thin slice of the historic Crane estate, 30 miles north of Boston, the shingle-style Inn at Castle Hill counts among its assets 2,000 acres of protected salt marshes, pine forests, meadows, maritime forest—and a 41/2-mile white-sand beach on the Atlantic. The estate has been under the care of the Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts conservation organization, since 1948. While on the property, make time to visit the Stuart-inspired Great House, built in the late twenties for plumbing magnate Richard Crane, with (no kidding) sterling-silver taps, carved library moldings by Grinling Gibbons, and a glamorous Olmsted-designed allée. The inn's 10 rooms uphold such old New England values as double-hung windows, polished pine floors, and sailing charts. Request Higinbotham (the largest room), Miné (the only one with a fireplace), or Cornelius (the best views).
280 Argilla Rd.; 978/412-2555, fax 978/412-2556; www.theinnatcastlehill.com; doubles from $175.
For Group Getaways
Game Creek Chalet
Vail, CO | So you're planning a family reunion?Make like the von Trapps at this Austrian-inspired cabin on Vail Mountain, where up to eight guests can have the place to themselves. At 10,200 feet, Game Creek Chalet is accessible only by SUV (summer) or Sno-Cat (winter). After a champagne welcome by the chalet keeper (your own mountain valet), settle into the four guest rooms, which have hand-carved doorways, vaulted ceilings, and duvets thick enough to keep out the evening chill. Dinners—pan-seared loin of venison, panko-crusted sea bass—are prepared by a private chef. Try mountain biking, guided hikes, or thrill-sledding—a new sport that resembles luge on grass. End your day with a glass of Riesling and take in the endless meadows of Indian paintbrush and Rocky Mountain columbine in the valley below. Lederhosen optional.
174 E. Gore Creek Dr.; 800/331-5634 or 970/476-5011, fax 970/477-3741; www.lodgeatvail.com; $1,700 per night (based on four people)
Pebble Beach, CA | Alongside the celebrated Pebble Beach Golf Links, Casa Palmero feels like a Mediterranean villa: all palm trees and rosebushes, trickling fountains and bougainvillea. Twenty-four rooms surrounding an elegant 1924 estate provide the perfect alternative to the oversized golf resorts on 17-Mile Drive. Privacy is at a premium here—entrances to the rooms were designed so that you're unlikely to see another guest coming or going. Inside, no detail is overlooked. Fireplaces hold wood and kindling so carefully stacked that a textbook blaze is just a match-strike away; baths are big enough for two. And should 18 holes make your muscles a bit sore, take heart: the Spa at Pebble Beach is right next door.
1700 17-Mile Dr.; 800/654-9300 or 831/622-6650, fax 831/644-7960; www.pebblebeach.com; doubles from $625.
Maple Hill Farm B&B
Hallowell, ME | "Call it the retirement home for farm animals," says Scott Cowger of his inn in rural Maine, five miles from Augusta. He shares the farm—which dates back to the late 1800's—with goats, cows, sheep, and a llama named Petey. At Maple Hill, the day starts with a hearty breakfast of scrambled, coddled, or fried eggs (laid by the farm's 50 free-range chickens) served alongside fluffy wild Maine blueberry pancakes. After breakfast, you can join Cowger on his daily hunt for more fresh eggs. All eight guest rooms have been recently renovated and are simply decorated in warm tones with rustic furniture, king-sized quilts, floral prints, and rocking chairs; three have balconies and whirlpool tubs. The innkeeper is glad to help set up untaxing pastimes—canoeing in a nearby pond, visits with barnyard residents. So swap your pinstripes for overalls, roll up your sleeves, and breathe in the fresh country air.
Outlet Rd.; 800/622-2708 or 207/622-2708, fax 207/622-0655; www.maplebb.com; doubles from $85.
Manka's Inverness Lodge
Inverness, CA | A sign outside reads honest beds, phenomenal food. It's not just bragging. An hour north of San Francisco, on the verge of 70,000-acre Point Reyes National Seashore, Manka's Inverness Lodge is a 14-room compound above the tidal wetlands of Tomales Bay. The 1917 game lodge has all the rustic trappings—old hickory rockers, stone fireplaces, and cypress log beds. But the real draw is a dining room devoted to sustainable wild foods and organic farming. Owner Margaret Gradé buys the abalone, oysters, wild mushrooms, and huckleberries that regularly appear on her daily-changing menu from neighbors and farmers down the road. (Look for the black buck antelope with morels and foie gras toasts.) The quirky wine list includes many small domestic vintners. Most meats are grilled on an open fire, but the house-made sausages bear little resemblance to the franks from your last Scouts cookout.
30 Callendar Way; 800/585-6343 or 415/669-1034, fax 415/669-1598; www.mankas.com; doubles from $185; dinner for two $100.
For History Buffs
Greenwich, CT | Chef Thomas Henkelmann is devoted to the kind of French classics (béchamel, velouté) that many of his contemporaries snub as old-fashioned. And it's precisely this devotion—and his signature veal medallions with port wine sauce and lobster risotto—that makes him the reigning chef on the road between Boston and New York. The Homestead occupies a blue-blooded 1799 Victorian manse set on three acres of emerald lawns, with cutting gardens and flagstone terraces, at the edge of Long Island Sound. Nineteen rooms deploy four-poster and sleigh beds to evoke Provence, China, or Africa. A deep wraparound porch, with white wicker furniture and hanging geranium baskets, is as American as milk and cookies—or as Cheeveresque as an extra-dry martini.
420 Field Point Rd.; 203/869-7500, fax 203/869-7502; www.homesteadinn.com; doubles from $250; dinner for two $140.
Poolville Country Store
Poolville, NY | Surrounded by the cornfields and dairies of upstate New York, this three-room inn and restaurant started life in 1835 as the kind of country grocery store where farmers hung around the cracker barrel and traded yarns about crop yields. Designer turned chef Remy Kolean bailed on Manhattan three years ago to settle in this tiny rural community near Colgate University, and now dishes up duck pot stickers, roast chicken with corn soufflé, and seared yellowfin tuna atop crispy noodle pancakes (great with Ithaca Beer's apricot-wheat microbrew). Two of the guest rooms are in an adjacent 1830's farmhouse, while the third is next door in a converted post office now called the Garden Cottage, filled with shabby-chic finds from antiques shops in neighboring Bouckville.
1245 Poolville Rd.; 315/691-2677, fax 315/691-9842; www.poolvillecountrystore.com; doubles from $100.
For Active Travelers
Tu Tu' Tun Lodge
Gold Beach, OR | Even thrill-seeking outdoor types can use a dose of luxury. At Oregon's Tu Tu' Tun Lodge, 300 miles from Portland on the north bank of the Rogue River, the rustic elegance of soaring wood-beamed ceilings and a 10-foot stone fireplace makes guests feel immediately pampered—even after a challenging day of fly-fishing or white-water rafting. Each of the 20 rooms has its own patio or balcony with a river view. In the spacious dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, fresh spring chinook salmon is the local specialty. The heated lap pool, four-hole pitch-and-putt course, hiking trails, and sea kayaks are there to meet just about any whim. Horseshoes in the apple orchard, anyone?
96550 North Bank Rogue; 800/864-6357 or 541/247-6664, fax 541/247-0672; www.tututun.com; doubles from $145.
Chrysalis Inn & Spa
Bellingham, WA | Bad weather usually disappoints those who visit Washington State for nonstop sailing, kayaking, or hiking. Chrysalis, a new full-service spa, can come to their rescue. In a serene setting of slate and native woods, guests can indulge in seaweed body wraps or massages while ignoring the heavy clouds battling outside. Should the skies light up with pyrotechnic storms, they can retreat to their rooms, where a window seat overlooks Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. But even when rain threatens, after a therapeutic pummeling and a quiet soak a silver lining is always in view. 804 10th St.; 888/808-0005 or 360/756-1005, fax 360/647-0342; www.thechrysalisinn.com; doubles from $165.
Thirty bright rooms face an onsite pool.
Chrysalis Inn & Spa
Poolville Country Store Bed & Breakfast
Manka's Inverness Lodge
The collection of meticulously decorated cabins scattered along a wooded hillside are so peaceful they have an almost narcotic effect.
Maple Hill Farm B&B
This homey, eco-friendly bed and breakfast is set against the backdrop of nature: expansive open spaces, century-old maple trees, and numerous hiking trails. Housed in a late Victorian-era farmhouse, the inn's eight guestrooms are outfitted with antique furniture and accents. All have private bathrooms, and some also feature whirlpool baths, gas fireplaces, and private balconies. Common spaces include a guest kitchen, living room, dining room, and several porches. A complimentary cooked-to-order country breakfast is served each morning, and an on-site pub is equipped with a full bar.
Hope & Glory Inn
Old Monterey Inn
Lodge on Gorham's Bluff
Blue Lake Ranch
Owner David Alford converted a homestead built by Norwegian immigrants into this country-estate bed-and-breakfast overlooking Blue Lake and the La Plata Mountains. Completed in 1983, the property is situated on 200 private acres with eight different accommodations, ranging from garden cottages to a private cabin on the Lake. Smaller rooms in the main Ranch House have king-sized feather beds, while the larger suites in the barn and casitas have whirlpool bathtubs and living areas. The Alford family serves a daily complimentary breakfast in the Ranch House's common room, using homemade recipes like whole-wheat pancakes with pinenuts.
Darby Field Inn
The Mermaid & the Alligator
With at least 80 inns and B&B's squeezed onto the eight-square-mile island, Key West may well be America's most "inn" town. So what makes the Mermaid & the Alligator stand out? Try the crystal chandelier glittering from the royal poinciana tree out back, or the plunge pool with built-in bench for sipping Meursault. Or is it simply that the inn, though only a 10-minute walk from the beach, hides in a palm and bromeliad jungle, secure from tourist-mobbed Duval Street? The owners intended to create a respite from Key West's hubbub when they bought the 1904 Victorian house five years ago. They planted every exotic they could find, then decorated the rooms with refreshing details like Polynesian tapa cloths and Haitian and Cuban artwork depicting island life. None of the nine guest rooms have phones or TV's, but instead encourage lingering at mahogany writer's desks. But first, you'll need to check in at the kitchen—there's no reception desk here.
Palms Cliff House Inn
Located atop rocky cliffs overlooking Pohakumanu Bay, this Victorian-style inn is set on a 3½ -acre estate just 15 minutes outside Hilo on the Big Island. A large front lanai (porch) is furnished with wicker chairs and overlooks the orchard, planted with banana, mango, lime, and macadamia nut trees. Inside, each of the eight individually designed rooms includes a private lanai with ocean views, and the suites also have gas fireplaces and in-room Jacuzzi tubs next to the windows. Innkeepers John and Michele Gamble serve a daily breakfast, which may include banana macadamia pancakes, as well as Hawaiian-style afternoon tea.
Hob Knob Inn
A short walk from the center of Edgartown, this property has the notion of coastal living down pat. Inside the three-story Gothic Revival building are 17 light-filled rooms dressed in toiles and stripes, each grounded by an English antique or two. Breakfast is made to order from local farm ingredients, including homemade fig preserves, and served in two sunny rooms, one with Currier & Ives blue-patterned plates nearly covering the walls from floor to ceiling. Book a treatment in the small spa, bike the island’s well- maintained trails, or go fishing in the inn’s Boston Whaler.
Hacienda del Sol Ranch Resort
Hammered-tin lamps and carved-beam ceilings add old-world atmosphere to this charming property. Set in the Catalina foothills, the 1929 former girls’ boarding school has lush gardens and an award-winning restaurant.
Houses of the Moon
Just four miles outside of downtown, the Houses of the Moon has recreated a Japanese mountain retreat with 12 Zen-inspired suites and landscaping. Each suite is unique but many have tatami-style beds, high-tech, spacious bathrooms, sleek wooden furniture, and private gardens. The resort is also home to the Ten Thousand Waves spa, which has Japanese-style and traditional spa services, such as hot stone massages, facials, salt exfoliation, shiatsu, and cryostem cell treatments. There are communal hot baths as well as private hot baths; the waterfall bath includes a cold plunge waterfall.
Designed with the concept of Palm Desert in the late 1940’s, this one-level motor-style inn is a bright beacon of orange and lemon yellow. Twenty-four guest rooms and suites surround a central area equipped with a pool and Jacuzzi, spa, and garden, with plenty of seating to relax in the sunlight. Lemon trees are planted within the grounds, while palm trees along the exterior act like a barrier for a more secluded appearance. Vintage movie posters line the walls of the lobby, and a complimentary breakfast is available daily. It is also a quick walk to El Paseo for dining and shopping.
Game Creek Chalet
The premier accommodations on offer at the Lodge at Vail, the Game Creek Chalet is an ultra exclusive retreat for skiers seeking additional luxury and privacy. The chalet houses three bedrooms, five bathrooms, and an entertainment room, and the property sits at an elevation of 10,500 feet on Game Creek Bowl. Decorated in an upscale European style, the chalet has high ceilings and exposed wooden beams, creating the feel of a chic ski lodge. Amenities abound and include true ski-in/ski-out access, the services of a private chef, and private ski instruction.
Inn at Castle Hill
Coombs House Inn
Old Inn on the Green
Executive chef Peter Platt and his partner, Meredith Kennard, took over as owners of this pleasantly rustic Berkshires inn—formerly a stagecoach relay—in 2005; together they've created one of the finest dining destinations in the area, and arguably the Northeast. Platt, who spent 17 years overseeing the kitchen at nearby Wheatleigh, specializes in innovative American cooking with a heavy French accent. His sublime meals celebrate the season and the region—what could be better than a warm salad of Hudson Valley squab with foie gras flan and huckleberry sauce, or a napoleon made with just-picked peaches and crème fraîche, or even a simple plate of local Berkshire blue cheese served just a few miles from where it was aged?The enchanting dining room is true to the period, with wrought-iron chandeliers, stenciled walls, patinaed Windsor chairs, and tavern tables. After dark, it's lighted entirely by candles (and fires in winter). The inn has 11 spare but comfortable guest rooms—five above the tap and dining rooms, and an additional six (roomier) options in the Thayer House. Scattered through the surrounding Berkshire Hills are wonderful antique stores and friendly ski mountains. In summer, the area plays host to world-class cultural happenings like Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, and Bard College's renowned Summerscape dance, music, and theater festival at the stunning Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.
Inn at Mountain View Farm
The name of this semi-converted 440-acre farm in Vermont’s rural Northeast Kingdom highlights its biggest perk — lush, long views of the state’s famous Green Mountains, which are visible from each of the 14 guestrooms and suites. Set in the farm’s 19th-century brick creamery and wood farmhouse, the rooms reflect its age, with poster beds, floral wallpaper, wicker chairs, and maple wood floors. Outside, there are 100 miles of hiking, biking, cross-country ski, and snowshoe trails, as well as an animal sanctuary for rescued farm animals run by the inn’s owner.
Goodstone Inn & Estate
Formerly an 18th-century plantation, this 265-acre estate is now home to a luxury inn surrounded by dairy pastures and winding creeks. The 18 guest rooms are spread out among several tree-shaded cottages, as well as a converted carriage house, a bull barn, and a Colonial-style manor house. The cottages are individually designed, although many contain gas fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and full kitchens stocked with homemade cookies. Some also have furnished porches with views of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to a celebrated French restaurant, the grounds include a full-service spa, an outdoor pool, and scenic hiking trails.
Milliken Creek Inn
Tu Tu'tun Lodge
Fronting the Rogue River and flanked by old-growth rain forests, with an emphasis on genial service.