New England is where the old world meets the new amid bright coastal towns, explosive fall colors and romantic white clapboard houses with Old Glory swaying gently over the porch. They do B&Bs really well too, with plenty of storied properties lovingly renovated and modernized while retaining their best original features. You’ve a choice of rural escapes, seasonal seaside beauties, a beer hotel and a Boston townhouse.
This classic Nantucket inn began life as the home of sea captain Nathaniel Sherman, who built it in 1803 for his bride Hepsabeth. The pair raised six children here and it still has the cozy feel of a gentleman’s family home. There are four-poster and canopy beds, original fireplaces and period pieces throughout the 13 air-conditioned guest rooms, as well as artwork by Nantucket artists. The innkeeper prepares a continental breakfast every day, and homemade treats are served in the afternoon. The house has views of the historic district, while shops, beaches and restaurants are a short walk away.
There can’t be many more comfortable places to lay your head than one of the seven suites at the Barrington in Great Barrington, Massachusetts – a vibrant town and great base for exploring the parks, lakes and mountains of the Berkshires. Many of the rooms have four-poster beds and views of Main Street, while the Chinoiserie suite has Asian-inspired decor and a hot-tub bath in the ensuite. Breakfast in the Great Room is a fusion of American, French and Asian cuisines.
The Adair Country Inn is a rural escape outside the village of Littleton, halfway between Boston and Montreal. Excellent food is served in the fireside dining room, outdoor garden patio or stonewalled library pub – try the lager-steamed shrimp and mussels with butter and herbs over linguine. The Adair is not just an inn but an estate, with grounds, walking trails and gardens laid out by the Olmsted brothers, son of Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park in New York. There’s lots to do in the area, from outdoor pursuits to cruising antique shops and art galleries.
If you’re a fan of beer, the Ale House Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, might just be your favorite place you’ve ever stayed. It’s housed in the historic Portsmouth Brewing Co. building, used as a warehouse from 1880. Though there’s no more beer being made since it closed in 1917, following the ratification of Prohibition, you still get a complimentary cold one and a beer guide in your room. There are plenty of breweries to explore in Portsmouth – try Earth Eagle Brewings, a microbrewery off High Street, for a unique selection of beers, many made with botanicals such as burdock root and milkweed instead of hops. The accommodation is comfortable and the heritage shines through in the exposed red brick, wooden floors and high ceilings of the communal areas.
The Cliffside Inn is so named because it overlooks the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, a 3.5mi (5km) National Recreation Trail taking in the coastal landscape and architectural history of Newport’s Gilded Age. The 16 rooms are vividly decorated in jewel tones and patterns following a 2019 renovation. There are details inspired by painter Beatrice Turner, who spent her summers at the Victorian mansion from 1907 to 1948. There isn’t a blade of grass out of place in the formal gardens, and the centre of Newport is a short walk away.
The tranquility of this small slice of the Connecticut River Valley, close to the Long Island Sound shoreline, can be reached in two hours by car from New York or Boston. It’s certainly worth the trip to the Copper Beach Inn, where you’ll be greeted by large and warmly furnished rooms and suites. There’s rich food on offer at the restaurant, which boasts a 2,500-bottle wine cellar – the pan-seared diver scallops with creamy lobster corn risotto are not to be missed. Nearby you’ll find the sandy beaches of Hammonasset State Park and the Ivoryton Playhouse, America’s longest continually running summer stock theater.
A trip to Vermont never disappoints and Stone Hill Inn is a great place from which to explore. You’re surrounded by 9 acres (5ha) of woodland but only five minutes from the restaurants and amenities in the town of Stowe. Every room has a king bed, luxury bath with double jacuzzis and a fireplace. Every morning, sunlight floods the 40-window dining room, reaching into every corner of the 14ft-high ceiling, while you enjoy a spectacular breakfast – the only difficulty will be choosing between the likes of orange-pecan waffles, pear-brie omelets and French-herbed scramble with smoked salmon.
This restored oceanfront inn built in 1891 is located in Kennebunk, one of the most exclusive towns on the Maine coast – the Bush family compound at Walker’s Point is just a couple of miles north. Open May through December, the view of the Atlantic is uninterrupted and if the sea breeze and sun-sparkled ocean don’t relax you, a massage or treatment at the Breakwater Spa will – it’s located at sister hotel the Breakwater Inn & Spa, which also houses Stripers Waterside Restaurant. Before a meal of the lip-smacking local seafood, you can enjoy cocktails and appetizers in an adirondack chair on the riverfront lawn. Back at The Beach House Inn, there’s a daily continental breakfast and afternoon tea in the sitting room.
A renovated six-story red brick townhouse dating back to 1867, Clarendon Square offers a boutique hotel experience you won’t find in many other places in downtown Boston. Located in the historic South End neighborhood, you can bathe in a rooftop hot tub with matchless skyline views, enjoy breakfast on the garden terrace or take a glass of wine in the gorgeous parlor and library. Tremont Street, sometimes known as Restaurant Row, is just one block away. If you can stretch to it, the luxury suite is something else – you’ve city views from a queen bed alcove, a mahogany barrel-vaulted dressing room plus you can enjoy a soaking tub for two or walk-in shower.