With a seemingly endless choice of inns in the two regions — in locations relatively close to the Philadelphia area and as far afield as Maine — a broad range of B&B experience among innkeepers and a long-standing tradition of hospitality, it shouldn’t be hard to find an inn or two to suit any body and any budget.
What should travelers expect the inn experience to be like?
According to Beth Steucek, executive vice president of the 300-member New England Inns & Resorts Association: “One of the biggest attractions about an inn is personal service, with innkeepers tending to know their guests personally — often remembering their names shortly after meeting them. One special charm of a country inn is the fact that travelers are literally houseguests. A small number of guest rooms means each is one of a kind.”
The best time to go?
“Fall is the high season, with October known specifically as ‘foliage season.’ With so many travelers wanting to see the vibrant colors of the leaves, inns can charge their full rates,” a stark contrast to February and March, “when occupancies and rates are low,” said Steucek.
As for the high price of gasoline, some inns may be offering incentives to help offset the cost, she added.
Connecticut, closest of the New England States to Philadelphia, offers many country inns, including the lovely Bee and Thistle Inn (Old Lyme, 860-434-1667, www.beeandthistleinn. com), built in 1756. Here, innkeepers Marie and Philip Abraham have 11 tastefully-decorated guest rooms, plus one cottage, all with private bath and phone, on a 5.5-acre tree-studded area by the banks of the Lieutenant River.
The inn is regarded by Connecticut magazine as the most romantic place to dine in the state. “We offer a warm and gracious experience. That’s what we’re known for and that’s what keeps people coming back, no matter the cost of travel,” explained Philip Abraham. A “Fall Romance” package is available until Dec. 20.
In Maine, specifically in what is called “Downeast Maine,” is arguably where the best and best-known country inns are found. Kennebunkport, one of the first towns along the Downeast coast, offers several fine inns, including the nine-room Captain Fairfield Inn (1-800-322-1928, www.captainfairfield. com), an 1813 Federal-style mansion that is open all year, and is known for comfort and serenity.
Breakfast — the only meal served at the inn — is generous, and features home-baked breads and pastries.
Massachusetts is country-inn country, for sure, with the likes of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn (Sudbury, 1-800-339-1776, www. wayside.org/wayside) in the woods of eastern Massachusetts on Route 20, the old stagecoach road to Boston. The inn has 10 rooms, all with private bath; large and small dining rooms; a bar; and a lovely walled garden, which inspired Longfellow to write poems known as “Tales of a Wayside Inn.”
Though landlocked, the state of New Hampshire and its country inns offer the chance to experience a wonderful time and create equally wonderful memories. The Franconia Inn (Franconia, 800-473-5299, www.franconiainn.com) is such a place. Set in the White Mountains, the inn’s 29 room, all with private bath, offer comfort and grand views of the mountains and surrounding fall foliage.
Now, tiny Rhode Island offers some big-time spots, including the Agincourt Inn (Newport, 800-352-3750, www.agincourt- inn.com), a 19th-century manor estate in a city that’s famous for, among other attractions, the Touro Synagogue (401-847-4794, www.tourosynagogueorg). Dedicated in 1763, America’s oldest synagogue is a National Historic Site and part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Amid Victorian charm and elegance, the Agincourt’s owners, Selma Fabricant and her son, Randy, have eight suites, all with private bath. A full complimentary breakfast is offered daily.
Also of interest: the Castle Hill Inn & Resort (Newport, 1-888-466-1355, www.castlehill inn.com), a many gabled affair located on a 40-acre site right by Ocean Drive.
Vermont definitely means country inns to a great many people. The Green Mountain Inn (Stowe, 800-253-7302, www. greenmountaininn.com), built in 1833 and open year-round, rests on 120 acres of country land, and, according to brothers David and Simon Gameroff, the inn’s owners and operators, “combines a classic New England experience with resort amenities.”
The Gameroff family, who purchased the inn in 1983, restoring and expanding it, has long been very active in Stowe’s Jewish community.
Nearby is none other than the Trapp Family Lodge (Stowe, 800-826-7000, www.trappfamily. com), made famous by the real-life family that was the source of “The Sound of Music.”
Meanwhile, country inns in the Middle Atlantic States — New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — range from cozy and comfortable to deluxe.
Among many in this part of the country is the Pennsbury Inn (Chadds Ford, 610-388-1435, www.pennsburyinn.com), billed as “a comfortable, historic place to stay in the Brandywine Valley,” and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its seven rooms, including the Lafayette Room, the house’s oldest, dating to 1714, are a blend of colonial heritage and country elegance. Either full or continental breakfasts are served daily, year-round. To aid with gas costs, a special stipend is being offered to guests.
In New Jersey a country inn of note is the Morning Dove Inn(Belmar, 732-556-0777, www. morningdoveinn.com). This spacious inn, overlooking Silver Lake, is one block from the Atlantic Ocean and provides a year-round peaceful setting in its large sunny rooms, all named after birds such as Oriole, Osprey and Sandpiper. There also is a year-round solarium and daily breakfast.
New York State offers inns in settings that range from seaside to mountain meadow. In the Finger Lakes region is Blakeslee House (Marcellus, 315-673-2881, www.blakesleehouse.com), a small but beautiful little inn that’s bathed in soothing country charm and quiet. Furnished with antiques, the inn stands amid the area’s rolling hills and wooded splendor, and is right near New York State’s wine country. A home-style country breakfast is featured daily.