Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bedded & Breakfasted

As mentioned in this post, our New England nights were spent mostly at Bed & Breakfasts. Here's a little recap of how we vetted the places we booked, the B&B features that seemed to weigh above the rest and the answer to the question, "would we stay here again?"

I spent a healthy amount of time one weekend sourcing Trip Advisor, Google, Expedia and more to find the places we'd end up along our route. I started with figuring out the general breakdown of how many nights we'd be in each part of a state. 3 days in Vermont, 2 in New Hampshire, 4 in Maine and 2 back in Boston before heading back to Chi-town. I opened up the radius, not holding us to one particular town in each general area and this helped widen the search.

We stayed at:
The Inn at Long Trail in Killington, Vermont
Made Inn Vermont in Burlington, Vermont
The Ballard House Inn in Meredith, New Hampshire
Acacia House Inn in Bar Harbor, Maine.

So what features made one B&B stand out over another?
- Private Bathroom. Any mention of "shared facilities" automatically got the boot. 
- In-room fridge. To be honest, this didn't stand out as much until we actually were checking in to the places and realized that a fridge to keep our cooler full of car snacks cool was indeed a good thing. 
- The Breakfast. Mouth-watering photos of french toast and omelets made us clamor for the credit card to put down a deposit.
- Wifi. Not that I wanted us spending the whole time on our phones, but I brought along the iPAD so we could plot out our activities for the next day. And finish watching The Wire via HBOGo!

First up, the Inn at Long Trail. I knew we'd be exhausted after our 6am flight into Boston and subsequent drive to Vermont. I didn't think we'd have too much energy for a hike that day, but I wanted to make sure we were close enough to start bright and early the next morning.

I stumbled upon the Inn at Long Trail and knew it was a great option for our first night. A stopover for day hikers and longer term guests alike, the proximity to the Appalachian Trail was more than ideal (literally, "walk up the hill, right behind the inn.")

We checked into our room after a quick tour of the common area, which reminded me a bit of home what with all the northwoodsy furniture. An Irish pub on the premises meant we didn't have to go too far for dinner that night.
Our room had its own living room and fireplace, plus a mini fridge. We were both so exhausted from the long travel day we passed out pretty early, giving us a full night's sleep before breakfast at the Inn's restaurant and a hike on the trail!
Our trip was starting off pretty well considering this was our view after only an hour or so of hiking:
Later that day, we headed north to Burlington, Vermont (stopping at Ben & Jerry's on the way for a quick tour and dish of Americone Dream.)
I was most excited for our B&B in Burlington. I found Made Inn Vermont through Trip Advisor after being drawn in by the wonderful reviews. And then I visited their website. They had me at hello by using Peignot Bold, our wedding font, but beyond that the photos showcased a modern take on a Bed & Breakfast. No grandmotherly quilts on the bed or stale furnishings? Yes, please! This was definitely our splurge of the trip, both financially and comfortly (not a word, but it works for what I'm trying to say). 

I booked room 905, which seemed to be one of the larger rooms. A Barcelona chair, tripod lamp and ultra-soft cowhide rug took up one corner of the room.
And one of the more comfortable beds I've slept in welcomed us in.
Made Inn Vermont seems to have thought of everything, and hit up every thrift shop, estate auction and yard sale on the way to creating a collection of vintage curiosities throughout the place. Our room even had a chalkboard wall that past guests had written their thank you's on.
We loved our two nights (and days!) in Burlington, Vermont. But soon enough it was time to head east to New Hampshire.

I had the toughest time finding a B&B for this leg of the trip because I literally had the entire state to search through. I went from assuming we'd stay in Concord and making a day trip to the mountains, to considering a place right in the heart of the mountains. In the end, I thought about how much we'd have to drive to get to the place we'd call home from Vermont and did not want to make us spend too much time in the car any one day.

So, Meredith, NH and the Ballard House Inn it was!
We found out the house was built in the 1784 but each room was carefully made over and kept up with. We spent two nights here, in between a day trip to the White Mountains and Franconia Notch State Park. The views just kept on coming:
Speaking of views, here is the view from the back porch of The Ballard House. Yep, not a bad place to relax at the end of the day.
We were getting pretty used to be spoiled by now by full breakfasts of quiches, pancakes, french toast, maple bacon and more maple bacon. I was quickly off-setting all of the exercise we were getting through hikes and long walks by the amount of food I was consuming (and I haven't even begun to talk about lobster rolls!)

Before we headed out, Bob had to get a photo with the house dog, Newton. This was another plus I looked for online. Anyone advertising a B&B dog or cat went up a couple notches in my book. Made Inn Vermont had two of the most friendly cats ever and Newton was clearly a favorite among guests.
We met a few other guests at breakfast our last morning and got a few good recommendations for our stay in Boston while exchanging stories of where we had been and where we were headed for hiking that day.

I did not manage to get a photo of The Acacia House, our home for one night in Bar Harbor, Maine. It was a quick stay, but chosen for the award-winning breakfasts we had read about online. And yes, my omelet stuffed full of goat cheese was pretty darn amazing. It was also right in the center of town, which made walking to the shops and restaurants on the water a breeze. 

The last four nights of our trip were split between staying with gracious friends in Maine and 2 nights at the Sheraton Boston (what can I say, the rate was decent and I figured we might be ready for a B&B Break).

All in all, the research paid off - we went four for four in great B&B experiences. How about you, do you have any must-stops from your travels? Or maybe horror stories from not so pleasant experiences? Do tell.

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