By Rhea Saran
Longing to escape the city for a weekend reminiscent of country homes in Europe? Look no further than New England where fresh air, clean waters and manor houses-turned-hotels provide that upper crust experience.
Homestead Inn, Greenwich, CT
Located just 45 minutes north of New York City, this European-style getaway on the outskirts of affluent Greenwich, Conn., is not just a charming inn, but is also known for being a gourmet culinary destination. Chef Thomas Henkelmann runs his namesake Relais Gourmands restaurant while his wife, Theresa, manages the inn.
The inn, housed in a whitewashed mansion with a veranda running all around it, has 18 guest rooms or suites, each individually designed by Theresa. No two rooms are the same, with unique antique pieces, fabrics and artwork adorning each room. Luxury is not spared, with high thread count sheets and Bulgari amenities in the bathrooms. The overall style of the rooms is an amalgam of Asian, French and English influences.
Trained in several Michelin three-star restaurants around Europe, Henkelmann was executive chef at restaurant Maurice at Le Parker Meridien in New York City in 1989. In 1997, Homestead Inn and restaurant Thomas Henkelmann were founded and he’s been serving up gourmet contemporary French cuisine with his signature twist ever since. Dishes such as his trio of Hudson Valley duck foie gras and oven-baked loin of rabbit have earned him accolades.
Rooms at the Homestead Inn begin at $250 per night for a traditional chamber and go up to $495 for a luxury suite.
homesteadinn.com and thomashenkelmann.com
Cliffside Inn, Newport, RI
Once home to the enigmatic artist Beatrice Turner, known mainly for her numerous self-portraits, this Victorian manor was restored and opened in its current avatar as a luxury bed and breakfast in 1989. Located conveniently near Newport’s largest beach and the town’s famous mansions, the Cliffside Inn continues to pay homage to the late artist, with over 100 paintings hanging on its walls.
The Inn has 16 uniquely designed guestrooms, ranging from classic rooms to deluxe suites. All the rooms have fireplaces, antiques, Beatrice Turner artwork and Italian linens, but the amenities get steadily more luxurious with each upgrade. In the deluxe suites, the “bath salons” have two-person whirlpools and most open out onto a private garden or deck.
The two meals served at the establishment – breakfast and high tea —are complimentary for guests. The high tea has been acknowledged as one of the best in New England by journalists and writers. Served on silver and porcelain, the spread includes tea sandwiches (salmon and capers or egg and caviar, for example), scones with Devonshire cream, and sweets like fruit tarts, tea cakes and cookies. Tea is served in antique cups.
Room rates begin at $155 and go up to $595 per night, depending on the class of room.
Twin Farms, Barnard, VT
Set on 300 acres of hills, gardens, lakes and trails, this hotel and spa is a retreat that feels like a typical English country home getaway, with plenty of outdoor activities and cozy interiors to come home to. Picnics, croquet, fly fishing, horseback riding, tennis, golf, swimming and hot air ballooning are on offer – though perhaps the overall experience is a tad more luxurious than grandmother’s country home in Cornwall.
The 20 distinctive accommodation options vary from large suites to individual cottages that are dotted around the property. All have fireplaces, full baths and panoramic views, but the cottages have the additional luxury of absolute privacy – with screened in porches, some with terraces and others with private landscapes.
Chef Ted Ask serves up three meals a day, varying from apple pancakes with sweet butter apple syrup at breakfast to pot aux feu of Long Island duck confit over vegetables topped with shaved winter truffles for dinner. Advance requests can be made to ensure that meals are completely suited to individual tastes.
The wine cellar is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of all with 26,000 bottles of wine from France, California, Australia, Italy, Spain, Germany and Oregon.
A full-service spa is also available onsite, providing treatments like the evening primrose body treatment.
Rates for suites begin at $1,250 and go up to $2,750 for the most decadent cottage.
The Wauwinet, Nantucket, MA
The only Relais & Chateaux property on Nantucket, this small luxury hotel is located on the tip of the island, providing unique views of both the ocean and the bay. The European inn-style retreat is a mere 9 miles from Nantucket town center, and offers a blend of quality service and accommodations and award-winning dining.
The 34 rooms at this hotel are well-appointed with antique pine and chintz decorative touches, original artwork, Italian bed linens and a profusion of fresh flowers to bring a little countryside indoors. Guest rooms are either in the main building or come in the form of individual cottages. All have picturesque views, whether of sand dunes, flower gardens and lawns, or of the rippling water.
Wauwinet is especially known for the recently renovated Topper’s, an award-winning restaurant headed by Executive Chef David Daniels. The cuisine is regional American, focusing on seasonal ingredients. Seafood dishes are particularly recommended. A meal might include specialties like baked Nantucket bay scallops and black sea bass in potato crust.
In May 2007, the myriad activities offered at the hotel will be complemented by the Spa by the Sea, which will offer Nantucket-inspired treatments like the Atlantic seaweed wrap or the cranberry crush body treatment.
Rooms begin at $380 per night for rooms in the main building, and go up to $940 for a two-bedroom cottage.