B&Bs: Three Northern Vermont Gems

by Marti Mayne / Jun 16, 2009 / 1 comments

Three Northern Vermont Gems

My husband fancies himself as “Joe Average”, claiming that he thinks like the average American guy.  We’ve just returned from a trip to visit three true B&B gems in Northern Vermont, and I’m happy to say the trip and all of our accommodations passed the “Joe Average” test with flying colors.


Rabbit Hill Inn B&B


We started our trip at The Rabbit Hill Inn, poised just over the New Hampshire border in Vermont’s lower Northeast Kingdom. Highlighted by beautifully preserved history, the Rabbit Hill Inn is a combination of genuine hospitality, culinary acumen, and a bucolic setting. From the moment we walked in, innkeepers Leslie and Brian Mulcahy made us feel welcomed and appreciated. Each time Leslie introduced guests to one another, she referred to them as her friends. Hummm, we’re friends, not guests here,” observed Joe Average.

We dined at the Rabbit Hill Inn, which most guests do at least once during their stay. We both enjoyed learning that everything that touched our lips came from within 90 miles of the inn – some much closer. From the extra “chef’s treats” that arrived in-between courses to the bunny shaped butter patties, the attention to culinary detail is striking here. We both particularly enjoyed the cold watermelon soup served over homemade strawberry ice cream, one of those special extras that arrived from the kitchen.


Rabbit Hill Inn B&B


We stayed in the Cedar Glen room, one that Leslie recommended to us, probably because of its sophisticated rustic, hunting theme. Filled with log highlights, including a beautiful log-inspired bed, the room offered just enough sporting and hunting theme to appeal to Joe Average and the amenities that appeal to his wife.

Tucked away in the tiny hamlet of Lower Waterford, VT, the Rabbit Hill Inn is complemented by a church and a wonderful small library, comprising the entirety of the village. We meandered into the library – one of the only honor libraries left in the country – and were amazed to find a fabulously neat, quintessentially New England building filled with everything from books about Vermont history to modern magazines.


We spent the next day meandering our way from Lower Waterford to Stowe. We arrived at the Stone Hill Inn just in time for the complimentary hors d’oeuvres, right out of the oven. In contrast to the other inns where we stayed, the Stone Hill Inn is a modern, purpose-built inn. Completed in 1998, this nine-room inn offers a clean, elegant architecture with everything from a stocked guest-kitchen to billiards, a solarium and a gazebo where massages are offered in good weather. Every guest room offers similar amenities, including a see-through fireplace poised for ideal viewing from the king-size beds and the large deep Jacuzzi tubs in the bathroom. Double vanity sinks, flat-screen TVs and sliding screen doors to the lavish gardens and grounds make the rooms a place that beckon even normally active Joe Average to relax.


Stone Hill Inn B&B


We chilled a bottle of wine with ice from the icemaker in the guest pantry and enjoyed it from the double Adirondack chairs overlooking the waterfall in the back yard of the inn. I noticed the impeccable landscaping; Joe Average immediately changed the subject from my musing about the romantic surroundings to Stanley Cup finals. Even with all the sports talk, I’m was still happy to be sharing this evening with Joe Average. A tall cathedral ceiling marks the living room and dining room of the inn, giving it an airy, open and bright feel.  The solarium, ideal for small conferences, is supplied with menus and brochures for the many attractions at Stowe.  One original feature of the Stone Hill Inn is the guest laundry - a wonderful amenity for travelers - and the pillow pantry, filled with pillows of varying sizes and thicknesses, to suit any taste.

Breakfast was served by candlelight in the open and airy breakfast room. The fruit salad that greeted us was beautifully arranged and my mushroom and leek omelet was  delicious. Joe Average chose the blueberry oatmeal pancakes and loved the stack that came accompanied by fresh Vermont sausage and hot-out-of-the-oven sticky buns. We both agreed this breakfast was among the highlights of our trip.


Stone Hill Inn B&B


We bid farewell and headed off to explore Stowe.  With the gondola closed, we drove on the autotoll road that zig zags its way to the top of Mount Mansfield where we enjoyed a hike along the ridge and views to Lake Champlain and beyond.  We were amazed to discover snow in small piles along the road, so Joe Average had to build a snowman, so he could send a photo via Blackberry with a “why didn’t we bring the skis?” message to his buddies.

Our final stop on the tour was the Inn at Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield.  Our GPS took us up a very steep, narrow dirt road to get to the inn, but once we came around the corner of this “shortcut”, we knew that this inn had really captured a sense of place in Vermont history. Highlighted by the beautifully preserved round barn that abuts the inn, the story of its preservation is just short of miraculous. Joe Average calls himself “a barn kind of guy,” and while time together was part of our intention for this trip, time in the barn was more on his mind. He spent as much time as possible exploring the barn and was particularly excited to learn that he knew the general contractor who oversaw the two-year restoration of the building.


Inn at Round Barn Farm B&B


We were greeted by Tim Piper, the innkeeper.  A tour of the inn revealed a lovingly restored farmhouse and barn, that co-owner and innkeeper Anne Marie Defreest and her family restored from a state of dilapidation.  Unlike any other inn I’ve ever seen, the Inn at Round Barn Farm offers amenities that are unsurpassed.  There’s a lap pool for swimming, which doubles as the inn’s fire suppression system, so if suddenly one finds themselves paddling in a puddle rather than a pool, the instructions are to get out of the building within 20 seconds!  A game room features a TV, guest kitchen and billiards, there’s even a hair salon for use by brides-to-be. Their extensive list of packages includes picking apples off the inn’s trees and hand pressing cider along with snowshoe dinners and XC ski/snowshoe tours guided by the inn’s mascot and “other” innkeeper, Cooper the black lab.


Inn at Round Barn Farm B&B


The Round Barn is multi-functional.  It hosts 40-50 weddings a year, and doubles as a cultural arts center when weddings and events aren’t scheduled. The Green Mountain Opera Festival was rehearsing when we visited, soon to launch their summer season headquartered there. The event and wedding facilities at the barn are  enviable, as viewed from my former meeting-planner eyes.  Two kitchens and a two-level event venue offer everything from white light adorned beams to the silo preserved on both levels. Its rustic elegance is undeniably appealing and quintessentially Vermont.


Inn at Round Barn Farm B&B


We stayed in the Abbot Room, the largest suite at the inn overlooking the five ponds and gorgeous grounds behind the inn.  This two-room suite was welcoming and offered everything that Joe Average and his wife would want – a corner Jacuzzi tub, steam shower, TV, king bed and plenty of room to spread out.  While I perused the comprehensive in-room guest books covering everything from inn history to regional restaurants and museums, Joe Average couldn’t resist his favorite sport – channel surfing.


Inn at Round Barn Farm B&B


On the back patio the next morning, we savored a breakfast of freshly baked muffins, grapefruit and waffles with strawberry cream, while enjoying the company of other guests, plus Anne Marie and Tim.  A stroll around the grounds revealed a stone bread oven and extensive gardens marked by sculpture and private seating areas.  We talked about how important it is to get away to three such restful and welcoming inns.  I had to tear Joe Average away from one more self-guided tour of the barn.  “Time to get back to reality,” we both mused.  Luckily we had a four-hour drive to enjoy the remaining vacation glow before returning to reality. 



Stone Hill Inn B&B


Marti Mayne is the B&B Editor for Wandering Educators





Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    14 years 10 months ago

    thanks for sharing these, marti! vermont is such a special place - and these three places seem to be extraordinary places to stay. 


    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

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