When I travel, the destination is usually the star, and my accommodations are simply the place I lay my head. But sometimes the hotels and inns I visit are so welcoming and comfortable — with stellar food, luscious pillow-topped beds, Jacuzzis for soaking, fireplaces for romancing, snazzy swimming pools, or awesome amenities — that I find myself never wanting to leave the property. You say there’s a terrific place (Fill in the blank: museum, waterfall, boutique shop, sports arena, nightclub, whatever) a few miles down the road? Thanks, but no thanks. Sometimes the best vacation involves remaining in one place. Here are some accommodations in New England that may tempt you to stay and be pampered.
WINDHAM HILL INN
If the drive through the rolling hills of southern Vermont isn’t picturesque enough for you, the road up to the 160-acres of the Windham Hill Inn may bring on a bucolic-vista high. Overlooking the meadows and woodlands of the Green Mountains, this Relais & Châteaux property is a no-brainer choice for those who want to park the car and forget where they put the keys.
Each of the 21 guest rooms is uniquely designed with locally crafted and antique furnishings. Bath toiletries by Molton Brown and cushy terry robes are perfect in the rooms with jetted spa tubs. Outside you’ll find a clay tennis court, pool, and a network of trails for hikers and skiers, though don’t wander too far from the teeny-quaint spa or you may miss your appointment for a Swedish or deep-tissue massage.
A three-course country breakfast — with melt-in-your mouth scones and tasty muffins — is included. And no need to leave the property at dinnertime: An eclectic fine-dining menu, featuring locally sourced foods and a comprehensive selection of wines, serves diners from the area as well guests.
Best pool with a view: Yes, it is heated. Lounge in the sun and inhale the fresh mountain greenery.
Windam Hill Inn 311 Lawrence Drive, West Townshend, Vt. 802-874-4080, www.windhamhill.com. Seasonal rates from $255.
OLD INN ON THE GREEN
Built as a stagecoach relay around 1760, the Old Inn on the Green offers authentically restored, Colonial-era rooms with stripped down simplicity alongside 21st-century comforts. What feels like a rural retreat in the middle of nowhere is actually a mere 15-minute drive along curving country roads from Great Barrington to the Berkshire village of New Marlborough. Curl up in a wingback chair or window seat with a good book and tray of tea and cookies in one of five rooms on the second floor of the inn, or in one of six rooms in the adjacent Thayer House.
In warm months, lolling is encouraged at the outdoor pool. Year round, fine dining enthusiasts flock to dine in the candlelit restaurant, feasting on the creations of chef-owner Peter Platt. Menus change seasonally and feature the finest local cheeses, produce, seafood, and meats of the Berkshires. The 16-page wine and liqueurs menu won’t disappoint.
Best deal for foodies: A midweek dinner-lodging special (Sun, Wed, Thu only, $249) includes one night accommodations, three-course dinner, and breakfast for two.
The Old Inn on the Green 134 Hartsville-New Marlborough Road, New Marlborough. 413-229-7924, www.oldinn.com. Rates from $260.
INN BY THE SEA
For full-time pampering with an ocean view, the Inn by the Sea is a one-stop retreat located on a mile of sandy beach not far from Portland, Maine.
Banish any thoughts you may have about seaside hotels with froufrou decor: The 61 guest rooms, suites, and cottages are designed for sophisticated comfort with clean lines, maple furnishings, and deep red, charcoal, and cognac fabric accents.
The Sea Glass restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, offers panoramic views of Crescent Beach. (In warm weather, enjoy the al fresco deck.) Seasonally appropriate menus, designed by chef Mitchell Kaldrovich, promote the best of Maine’s famed local seafood, cheeses, and produce.
The inn also has a full-service spa. Beach-inspired body treatments, massages, and aesthetics feature ingredients such as seaweed, marine-based peptides, nutraceutical extracts, and pure essential oils. For the ultimate spa indulgence, the 60-minute Trident Massage provides two massage therapists who work in synchronized harmony to reduce your flesh to a mass of rubbery bliss.
Don’t-miss dining delight: Grilled and butter-poached local lobster and handmade gnocchi approaches the sublime. The Argentine chef makes all the gnocchi from scratch, using a small wooden tool given to him by his grandmother.
Inn by the Sea 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. 800-888-4287, www.innbythesea.com.
Seasonal rates from $229.
THE CHANLER AT CLIFF WALK
Indulge your inner French king, Italian noblewoman, Visogoth ruler, or Georgian squire at The Chanler at Cliff Walk. Located at one end of the 3½-mile Cliff Walk trail overlooking the ocean in Newport, R.I., the renovated historic mansion has 20 unique rooms designed around particular historical periods and themes. All rooms offer fireplaces, wet bars, and luxury bathrooms (some with jetted tubs) with heated stone floors. Garden Villas have exterior entrances, and outdoor hot tubs within a private courtyard.
The Spiced Pear Restaurant, helmed by executive chef Thomas Duffy, serves fresh, local foods, such as foraged-heirloom-organic produce, and grass-fed-free-range-cage-free meats and shellfish and seafood, and features an open-air kitchen and views of the Atlantic. For an extra splurge, try the six- or nine-course New England tasting menu.
Most awesome amenity: Sign up for the Butler Bath service and your rose-petal-strewn and candlelit tub will be drawn when you return from dinner.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk 117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, R.I. 401-847-1300, www.thechanler.com. Rates from $665.
For an all-indulgence-all-the-time retreat, look no farther than the Mayflower Grace in western Connecticut. Located on 58 acres, the exterior looks like a sprawling old New England home — gabled roof, turret, portico — but there is nothing stuffy about the inside. All 30 rooms are spiffed and fluffed up for ultimate sensual delights. The antique four-poster beds alone are swoon-worthy: feather-topped mattresses, thick duvets, oversized pillows, and linens by Frette. If you must get out of bed, the marble and mahogany bathrooms offer deep soaking tubs perfect for an indulgent bubble bath.
You may stroll through the landscaped gardens and miles of woodland trails, or sign up for tennis, fly fishing, archery, or kayaking lessons. Though why do all that when you could pad down to the 20,000-square-foot spa in your cushy robe and slippers? Enjoy facials, scrubs, wraps, massages, acupuncture, a mani-pedi, haircut, and more. (Tai Chi-Qi Gong lesson, anyone?)
Guests may choose between two dining options: a locally sourced seasonal menu in white-tablecloth style is available at the Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, or chill out with pub-style food in the casual Tap Room bar.
Best reason to stay up late: From May through October, the inn offers a series of full moon activities, including guided meditation, salutation yoga, a meditative labyrinth walk, and kayaking on Lake Waramaug.
Mayflower Grace 118 Woodbury Road, Washington, Conn. 860-868-9466, www.gracehotels.com/mayflower. Rates from $575 through May 22.