Vermont's Innkeepers Offer Personalized Travel Experience
the unmatched allure and personalized hospitality of its historic inns
There are many aspects to Vermont travel that make the state a unique destination which stands apart from almost anywhere else in the United States.
World-class ski resorts, breathtaking natural scenery, stunning fall foliage, and artisan shops that produce authentic products of the highest quality quickly come to mind as reasons people keep coming back to the Green Mountain State for their vacations.
But there is another profound travel experience offered across Vermont that has made the state a timeless destination for tourists from far and wide: the unmatched allure and personalized hospitality of its historic inns.
Often nestled in small towns and villages that have been inhabited for centuries, the inns of Vermont bring travelers back to a day where overnight stays offer all of the comforts of visiting the home of a dear friend or family member.
The guest rooms and suites at many of Vermont’s inns are individually designed and decorated, each offering plush, personalized touches of comfort. Some rooms feature vintage or antique furnishings, while others present guests with more modern or contemporary styles.
The innkeepers and staff who welcome their guests have often worked at their inns for many years. Their breadth of local knowledge and experience working in hospitality have shaped their abilities to personalize the stays of each guest. Wrapped within the cozy confines of quaint towns or villages, it’s nearly impossible to not feel right at home as soon as you walk in the door at one of Vermont’s lovely inns.
“The combination of the Norman Rockwell village setting, the historic white houses, village green and summer theater is like a scene right of a movie,” said Steve Bryant, owner of The Dorset Inn on the Green, Vermont’s oldest continuously operated inn in Dorset, established in 1796. “A stay at the Dorset Inn is authentic and wholly unique, it’s the classic of the classics.”
The interior of The Dorset Inn is equally as charming as the surrounding village. Suites feature elegant furniture and bedding, inviting living room spaces, fireplaces and bathroom areas with hot tubs for maximum relaxation. The rooms are designed and routinely updated by co-owner Lauren Bryant. Such elegance and uplifting décor is also the norm at many other Vermont inns.
Whether booking a stay at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane, Rabbit Hill Inn in Waterford, the Vermont Inn in Mendon or Barrows House in Dorset, it’s impossible to not be impressed by the style and comfort that overnight guests find in each room.
At Rabbit Hill Inn, a place that bills itself as a “romantic destination” for couples, rooms vary in their design–some offer classic furnishings from eras gone by, and others are styled with a more art deco flare.
At the vast majority of Vermont’s inns and bed and breakfasts, guests can expect to be welcomed with a personalized touch. From selecting rooms of their choice, to friendly introductions and tours of the property, to tips on the best local places to go, the folks who run Vermont’s inns make every effort to make sure their visitors are comfortable.
“Our staff is kind of like a family, and we try to make a special effort to connect with the guests, find out where they’re from, find out what they like to do and try to help them enhance their stay,” said Walt Blasberg, owner of the North Hero House, which is nestled along the shore of the beautiful Champlain Islands and offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain.
That welcoming ambiance often extends itself to the common rooms, parlors, restaurants and bar areas of most inns, making them key experiential components of most guests’ stays. Many people want to mingle with other guests because the atmosphere inside Vermont’s inns is casual and relaxed, not stuffy.
“We’ve tried to make our inn accessible, affordable, and not intimidating,” said Charles Mallory, Founder and CEO of Greenwich Hospitality Group, the company that recently purchased and refurbished the Four Columns Inn in Newfane. “In its former iteration, it was really a destination with fine dining, an expensive proposition which was really the historic model for many New England country inns.”
“The inns were not used much by locals because they were too expensive and too intimidating. One of our ideas was to break that mold and make something that is very user friendly for the local community, and create authenticity in the same breath that would make a weekend guest feel they are rubbing shoulders with the locals and getting a real feel for Vermont.”
At Rabbit Hill Inn, the innkeepers also want their guests to be welcomed, in a manner that is relaxed.
“I think guests really enjoy not being anonymous. They like being addressed by name, they like having conversations with the people who own the property,” said Leslie Mulcahy, co-owner of the property with her husband Robert, who purchased Rabbit Hill Inn two decades ago. “They feel very shortly after arriving that this is a place to be comfortable, but not in an intrusive way. You kind of feed off of their pace.”
Adding to the inviting ambiance at many Vermont inns are restaurants featuring award-winning chefs, elegant and upbeat dining rooms, and menus featuring locally-sourced products of the highest quality. Mix in settings that may also feature fireplaces, great window views of the outdoors, elegant table settings, and hardwood floors from eras gone by, and it’s impossible to not feel that you’re in store for a great meal as soon as you sit down.
At the Red Clover Inn, the large dining room with plenty of windows and a sizable fireplace make the restaurant a centerpiece of the property. Add in the services of a friendly, attentive staff, and it’s easy to see why dining there is such a treat.
“Our innkeepers will learn your name; our wait staff will learn your name. Occasionally the chef will pop out, and it’s that personal touch you’ll be getting that I guarantee will happen for everybody,” said Red Clover Inn innkeeper Carol. “I think it’s exciting to see how people who never stayed at an inn or bed and breakfast, how their mind is opened up to a whole new experience.”
The restaurant at The Dorset Inn is a cozy New England tavern that gets most of its products from local Vermont farms and businesses. At the Barrows House in Dorset, a property which is comprised of eight building on six acres of beautiful grounds and gardens, the American pub pays homage to the local Norcross-West Marble Quarry.
With white marble accents and historic black and white photos highlighting the décor, Steve Bryant says the atmosphere both ties into history of the region, but is also “Vermont hip.” Much of the food there is locally sourced, including artisan baked goods from recently opened Dorset Rising bakery.
The beautiful Artisan Restaurant at the Four Columns prides itself on serving Vermont-produced foods from nearby farms and artisans that chefs from around the world seek out. Open nightly for dinner and most days for lunch, abundant and wholesome dishes that appeal to all palates are created by the chef.
The Tavern area at the Four Columns is another central attraction to guests, and is not alone as a premier spot to grab a drink at one of Vermont’s inns. The bar areas at the Vermont Inn and Tracks at the Pitcher Inn in Warren, offer up lively, yet relaxed drinking areas that provide guests with worthwhile options for an evening of fun while staying on the property.
Speaking of the properties surrounding Vermont’s inns, beautiful grounds and scenic excursions await guests when they step outside of their lodging. At the Inn at Shelburne Farms, open during the summer months, the sprawling lawns and formal garden situated along Lake Champlain in Shelburne are simply breathtaking. Guests can stroll along a beautiful landscape in any direction.
The Inn at Shelburne Farms is not alone in offering lovely grounds. At Rabbit Hill Inn, trails for hiking and snowshoeing are accessible behind the inn. The Dorset Inn sits right across from the village green, providing guests with a quintessential New England village setting. For visitors looking to enjoy the beauty and water recreation of Lake Champlain, the North Hero House is a must to visit.
If an urban setting strikes your fancy, Made INN Vermont and the Willard Street Inn in Burlington are located just a few blocks away from the beautiful Church Street Marketplace walking mall, and offer superb accommodations. The Inn at Montpelier in Vermont’s capital city is another cozy destination.
“The place is gorgeous, we did a very eclectic, Burlington-style design,” said Linda Wolf, owner of Made INN Vermont. “I think our guests feel they’re taken care of and don’t feel part of the masses and that this special occasion is creating lasting memories. We have people who make friends here and we have a very friendly, club-like environment, particularly in our inn because it’s so small.”
At the Inn at Montpelier, owners John and Karel Underwood live on-site and take care of the guests.
“From the time they step foot in the door to the time that they leave in the morning, the two of us are there to take care of all of their needs,” said John Underwood. “Every room in the Inn has its own unique décor. Also, it’s like being at home. You’re not in a hotel, you’re at home. We have people that return and become our friends.”
That friendliness is felt at inns across Vermont.
“One of the unique aspects of the inn is the innkeepers. Of all the reviews that we get, most of the reviews are about how great and friendly the innkeepers are how they make people feel at home. Mike and Emily (Marrano) have done an excellent job,” said Paul Teja, co-owner of the Vermont Inn in Mendon along with his wife OIivia.
“Thirty to forty percent of our guests are repeat guests,” said Mike Marrano. “I think a lot of guests who choose to come to inns are looking for that one-on-one interaction with the innkeepers. It’s an important part of our jobs and we enjoy it too. That’s why we do it.”
Search for inns that will be your home in Vermont during your next getaway.