The coziness is real: These are the five nicest inns for a winter holiday

The coziness is real: These are the five nicest inns for a winter holiday

Most people think of this classic inn – praised by The New York Times as the “best place in town” – as a summer time, “see-see-sailboats-go-past” escape. After all, it is located on a 40-acre peninsula overlooking Narragansett Bay. But this centuries-old Relais & Chateaux estate is also an indulgent haven in the winter. The main inn, the original Agassiz Mansion from the 19th century, offers several suites with their own fireplaces; Look for additional fireplaces in public areas, such as the Mansion lobby / lounge, perfect for curling up with a cup of tea and a book. And if you feel like a dried-out shell of your former self, thanks to New England’s punishing winter climate, head to the inn’s spa, Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics (a local brand) for a soothing, moisturizing body treatment.

Best for: Couple looking for an elegant getaway.

Ultimate cozy moment: Jump to the campfire site + s’more’s package and settle down on the inn’s terrace under a pile of fleece blankets. Grate these mallows to a perfect char with the Newport Pell Bridge in the background, lit up at night. Do you need extra heat? Add a tip to your hot chocolate or hot cider. [Note: The inn closes in January but reopens in February.]

From $ 435; 590 Ocean Drive, Newport, RI; 401-849-3800; www.castlehillinn.com

If you're OK without snow, a cozy Cape Cod vacation will be just the ticket.  This photo of Captain David Kelley House in Centerville was taken in December.  Still cozy, though especially at breakfast in front of the fireplace.
If you’re OK without snow, a cozy Cape Cod vacation will be just the ticket. This photo of Captain David Kelley House in Centerville was taken in December. Still cozy, though especially at breakfast in front of the fireplace.Diane Bair for The Boston Globe

Captain David Kelley House, Centerville

If you like your getaway served with a touch of good humor, this is your place. Come down for breakfast and you will probably come across “Britney Scones” or “Frank Scone-atra” serving the inn’s distinctive pastries. Or rather, one of the characters created and executed by innkeepers in what is arguably the most outrageous supply of pastry the world has ever seen. It stemmed from a battle (they call it “Scone Wars”) over which of them – Rick Garceau or Tom Nortz – served the best scone. Guests weigh in. Now it’s a thing at this B&B with six guest rooms, located in the heart of Centerville on Cape Cod. Fortunately, each scone is a delight, with flavors like blueberry / banana / white chocolate. There is not a boned scones in the house.

“We’ve lived in inns all over the world and this is our absolute favorite,” said friends of this Greek captain’s home in Greek revival style from around 1835. In addition to tasty three-course breakfasts that include a hot entree (Eggs Benedict with Key Lime Hollandaise on Sundays), the owner-occupied inn is warm and inviting. The house has hosted lodgers since the 1930s; the current innkeepers took it over and restored it to a shining splendor in 2009. There is a baby grand piano and a gas fireplace in the living room (in winter guests can have breakfast in front of the fireplace), and fine details like bathrobes and luxury linens (plus flat screen TVs ) in the rooms. Craigville Beach is a short walk away, as are the 1856 Country Store and Four Seas Ice Cream (open weekends). There is a happy mood here, a mood you want to keep for as long as possible.

Best for: Couples who could use a laugh, and someone fresh to chat with.

Ultimate cozy moment: Gathering and walking Craigville Beach, mitten in mitten.

From $ 159; 539 Main St., Centerville; 508-775-4707; www.CDKhouse.com

An inn by a lake with ice skating, snowshoeing nearby and pizza on site?  That sounds pretty nice to us.  It would be the Wolf Cove Inn in Poland, Maine.
An inn by a lake with ice skating, snowshoeing nearby and pizza on site? That sounds pretty nice to us. It would be the Wolf Cove Inn in Poland, Maine.Distribute

Wolf Cove Inn, Poland, Maine

If you are one of those “playing together / staying together” couples, this lakeside inn is a great option for you. Located on the shores of Lake Tripp in rural Poland, about 30 miles from Portland, the inn dates back to the 1890s but became an inn in the 1990s. Before that, this sprawling property was a private summer camp (home), and in the 1950s and 60s it housed a restaurant called Lobsterland on the Lake. Some of the 11 rooms have gas fireplaces and whirlpool tubs and lake views, and you can enhance the cozy ante by hopping for a “Romantic Getaway” package that adds sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and breakfast in bed for your two nights stay. There is also a self-contained cabin. Some rooms are dog friendly so you can take your cute dog with you (dogs also deserve a change of scenery, right?)

The biggest appeal here is what’s outdoors: a frozen lake in the woods, perfect for ice skating (and very private, good to know if you are not exactly “Disney on Ice” -worthy on skates.) Do you have snowshoes? Take them with you – Poland Springs Golf Course, with groomed trails, is 10 minutes away. If you are into Nordic skiing, plan to take on the network of trails at Oxbow Beer Garden, 10 minutes away. There is even a dog sled outfitter nearby (you stay warm on the sled under heavy blankets). After a day of outdoor action, you will enjoy going back to the inn and having dinner at the on-site pizzeria by the lake.

Best for: Outdoor types.

Ultimate cozy moment: Hurte through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh at nearby Carousel Horse Farm (www.chfmaine.com).

From $ 169; 5 Jordan Shore Drive, Poland, Maine; 207-998-4976; www.wolfcoveinn.com

The Pitcher Inn in Vermont has working fireplaces in each of its unique themed rooms, like this one in the trout room.
The Pitcher Inn in Vermont has working fireplaces in each of its unique themed rooms, like this one in the trout room.Pitcher Inn

The Pitcher Inn, Warren, Vt.

Do you want a little kitsch with your coziness? Choose from whimsical-themed excavations at the 11-room Pitcher Inn in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. (Sugarbush Ski Resort and Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center are a short drive away.) There is the Trout Room (think ceramic fish, river cliffs and green areas), Mallard, Colonial, Lodge, Ski and Mountain design. An adjoining barn houses the dog-friendly Hayloft and Stable suites, suitable for families or girlfriends. The original Pitcher Inn from around the 19th century burned to the ground, but the “new” (around 1997) inn falls right into Warren’s picturesque Main Street.

“Comfy chic” best describes the inn’s public areas. Wood stoves and fireplaces are everywhere – there are 14 in total and all but two of the rooms have them. Outdoors there is a campfire, perfect for making gourmet S’mores or enjoying a hot beverage. In the neighborhood (including neighboring Waitsfield) there is a covered bridge (but of course), a brew pub with outdoor seating (Lawson’s Finest Liquids) and galleries galore.

Best for: Foodies and those who can appreciate over-the-top design.

Ultimate cozy moment: Enjoy a “Fire to Fork” dinner cooked with fire at 275 Main, the inn’s fine-dining restaurant. Chef Jacob Ennis changes the locally based menu according to what looks good that day, but expect something solid and warming, perhaps butternut squash soup, served from a large pot hanging in the fireplace.

From $ 530; 275 Main St., Warren, Vt .; 802-496-6350; www.pitcherinn.com

Fog drifts through a Christmas tree yard near Fryeburg, Maine.
Fog drifts through a Christmas tree yard near Fryeburg, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty

Admiral Peary Inn Bed & Breakfast, Fryeburg, Maine

Innkeeper Donna Pearce is like the aunt you wish you had. She might greet you with a snickerdoodle, make blueberry french toast for breakfast, and warn you to “keep it down!” if you get too noisy shooting pool in the great room. Adds to the homely atmosphere of this house from approx. 1865: the inn dogs Daisy and Gizmo and a cat, Sasha (she is a bit standoffish though). “We’re as pet friendly as you can get,” says Pearce, who is happy to host your dog if you confirm it with her first. There is a large, fenced lawn behind and a campfire site available if you are inclined to light it up. Indoors there is a library, cozy nooks with comfortable chairs and the large room with fireplace, TV (guest rooms do not have them) and pool table. The inn is named after Arctic explorer Admiral Robert E. Peary, and Pearce has named six of the seven guest rooms for her favorite places to travel, including Paris, Panama, Tuscany and the Serengeti. Some of them have fireplaces or stoves. In addition to breakfast, the inn does not offer meals, but there is a good eatery, 302 West Smokehouse & Tavern, a short drive (or walk) away. The busy North Conway is a 15-minute drive away.

Located just across the border from New Hampshire, in the shadow of the White Mountains, the inn is reasonably close to seven ski resorts (Shawnee Peak and Mount Cranmore are closest), plus the Great Glen Trails, a magnet for the thin ski crowd. Arrange a horse-drawn sleigh ride nearby at High View Farm in Harrison (www.high-view-farm.com).

Best for: Families, animal lovers and those who appreciate the personal touch.

Ultimate cozy moment: You will remember how good it is to share food around a communal table when you gather for breakfast in the kitchen / family room with the inn’s other guests. This place seems to attract a friendly clientele.

From $ 169; 27 Elm St., Fryeburg, Maine; 207-935-1269; www.admiralpearyinn.com


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be contacted at bairwright@gmail.com

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