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ROMANTIC WINTER SPOTS

The 6 most romantic resorts for a winter getaway in New England

For a special treat, book one of the igloos at the Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine, with sweeping ocean views.Pamela Wright

We know; we know. Determining the most romantic resorts in New England is highly subjective, and infinitely debatable. But we had criteria for this list. Our top choices must be open in winter, cater to couples, have a great location, offer privacy and plush amenities, be near activities, and have good (preferably in-house) dining options. In other words, the perfect resort for a romantic winter getaway offers a mix of romance, luxury, and entertainment.

We think these six destinations, one in each New England state, measure up. Do you have a favorite romantic New England inn — open in winter — to add to the list? Tell us about it, and we’ll take a look.

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Some rooms at the Grafton Inn have four poster beds and fireplaces.Courtesy/Grafton Inn

Vermont: The Grafton Inn

This historic inn, one of the oldest operating inns in the country, dominates Main Street, in one of the prettiest villages in Vermont. Your stress will dissipate, and the pace will slow the moment you roll into this tiny town, passing the white-steepled church and historic homes, with frosty fields, ice-banked babbling brooks, and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Inside, it’s all about cozy comfort and quiet corners. The rambling inn, established in 1801, has 42 rooms and suites in the Main Inn, annex buildings, and separate guest cottages. Each is individually decorated with period antiques and traditional furnishings.

Bundle up and head to the nearby Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center to join a guided snowshoe hike followed by wine and cheese by the fireplace inside a log cabin, or take a scenic sleigh ride through the woods.

Back at the inn, warm up in one of the two snug living rooms next to a log-burning fireplace, followed by dinner in the inn’s soaring Phelps Barn Pub or the more intimate 1801 Tavern. Both serve the same menu, including dishes like crispy pork potstickers, wild mushroom toast, local cheese and charcuterie board, chicken marsala, braised lamb shank, and baked stuffed eggplant. 96 Main St., Grafton, Vt. 802-843-2248, wwwgraftoninnvermont.com, winter rates start at $199.

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The Weekapaug Inn is an elegant Relais & Chateaux property on the shores of Quonochontaug Pond, surrounded by salt marshes, with distant views of the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy/Weekapaug Inn

Rhode Island: Weekapaug Inn

Nature-loving couples will enjoy the adult summer camp vibe at this elegant Relais & Chateaux property on the shores of Quonochontaug Pond, surrounded by salt marshes, with distant views of the Atlantic Ocean. There are 33 rooms and suites, spacious and bright, with soothing neutral palettes, original art, and luxurious baths. The Carriage House Suites are the most popular, with separate living, kitchen, and dining areas, fireplaces, and private decks with water views.

The property has a naturalist-in-residence, and offers a slew of activities, including jeep safaris, naturalist-led walks, seal-watching tours, stargazing, inn tours, and cocktail and cooking classes and tastings.

We’d suggest a morning of guided activities, a long, hand-in-hand afternoon walk on the inn’s 2-mile-long beach, cocktails next to the wood-burning fireplace in The Bar, and dinner at highly-acclaimed The Restaurant, where you can share plates like duck confit tortellini, bluefin tuna crudo, Rhode Island mushroom tagliatelle, and rack of lamb. Later, snuggle by the outdoor firepit to enjoy s’mores and watch for roosting birds. 25 Spray Rock Road, Westerly, R.I. 855-679-2995, www.weekapaug.com, winter rates start at $430.

Nature-loving couples will enjoy the adult summer camp vibe at the elegant Weekapaug Inn.Courtesy/Weekapaug Inn

Maine: The Cliff House

Wow. That’s nearly everyone’s reaction when they walk into this lofty coastal retreat, dramatically perched on craggy Bald Head Cliff, and spread across 70 acres. The Atlantic Ocean is smack in your face, and the roily winter surf is crashing the rocky shore just below you. Step outside and you’ll feel the spray and smell the salty ocean air. But come back in and enjoy the view in warm, elegant comfort.

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Rooms are modern, with clean lines, blue and white tints, nautical touches, contemporary coastal paintings, and a private balcony. Most have stunning water views; premium rooms and suites also have fireplaces.

Enjoy a casual lunch or dinner at Nubb’s Lobster Shack, a lively, fun eatery with great seafood.Pamela Wright

This is a true destination resort — there’s no need to leave the premises, once you’ve checked in. In fact, some people spend most of their stay wrapped in the resort’s soft, comfy robes. But dress up for dinner at The Tiller, the resort’s sleek restaurant hovering over the ocean. Ask for a seat near the fireplace, and share a plate of local oysters, a bowl of Maine mussels, or a basket of peekytoe crab doughnuts (fritters). Entrees run the gamut from coffee-rubbed hangar steak to Gulf of Maine salmon.

If there’s any time and place to splurge, this is it: Book a half- or full-day experience at The Spa at Cliff House, a gorgeous 9,000-square-foot oasis with striking ocean views from the spa sanctuary, and a slew of lush treatments.

Stay an extra night and enjoy the outdoor and indoor pools and hot tubs, and a casual lunch or dinner at Nubb’s Lobster Shack, a lively, fun eatery with great seafood. The resort also offers a variety of activities, including exhibitions in the on-site art gallery, movies in the theater, fitness classes, and art classes with the resort’s artist-in-residence. 591 Shore Road, Cape Neddick, Maine. 207-361-1000, www.cliffhousemaine.com, winter rates start at $537.

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Rooms at the Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead are ultra plush, some with four poster beds, gas fireplaces, and jetted tubs or walk-in showers.Courtesy/Harbor Light Inn

Massachusetts: Harbor Light Inn, Marblehead

Let the weather outside be frightful. You’ll be snuggled inside this warm and friendly inn, with all the comforts of home (and then some). Housed in an 18th-century mansion, nestled in Marblehead’s historic Old Town district, the updated inn has 20 rooms and five private apartments, uniquely furnished with period antiques and nautical touches (paintings, carvings, and brass work), reflecting the town’s maritime history. Rooms are ultra plush, some with four poster beds, gas fireplaces, and jetted tubs or walk-in showers. (Tip: The three most popular rooms in winter are 5, 22, and 25.)

The inn is within easy walking distance to the town’s galleries, restaurants, and historic sights, or head out for a walk on Devereux Beach, a beautiful spot especially in winter when the hordes are gone. When you return, grab a seat in the inn’s tavern to enjoy a warm beverage and bar bites, like popcorn shrimp and cheese and fruit platters. 58 Washington St., Marblehead. 781-631-2186, www.harborlightinn.com, winter rates start at $179, including breakfast.

In the heart of Jackson, N.H., The Wentworth inn recently completed a $4 million dollar hotel-wide renovation.The Wentworth

New Hampshire: The Wentworth

If your idea of romance is fresh flowers, candlelit dinners, fireplaces . . . and your own private, outdoor hot tub (!) — look no further than this updated historic property in the picturesque town of Jackson, N.H. In winter, this little mountain village is a snowball scene, with rolling fields and forests crisscrossed with snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails, a covered bridge, a babbling brook, historic homes, and the ever-present scent of wood smoke.

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The Wentworth, a sprawling 1869 property, dominates the village green. The Grande Dame recently received a facelift, refreshing guestrooms and the lobby, and adding the new Alpine Tavern. It mixes the traditional — wood paneling and period woodwork — with rustic mountain-chic decor and furnishings (think: hunter plaid and leather). The tavern is a lively hangout for locals and guests, and a great spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. Dinner in the inn’s 1869 restaurant feels like a special occasion, like ballroom-style dining in large rooms, with crystal chandeliers, white linen tabletops, and a traditional menu serving classics like jumbo shrimp cocktail, pan-roasted chicken breast, and braised short ribs.

Of course, you’ve booked a spa suite with a gas fireplace, and your own private hot tub room that opens to the outside. 1 Carter Notch Road, Jackson, N.H. 800-673-0013, www.thewentworth.com, winter rates start at $159.

It is hard to beat a bowl of steamed mussels and water views at the Fresh Salt restaurant at the Saybrook Point Resort & Marina.Courtesy/ Saybrook Point Resort & Marina

Connecticut: Saybrook Point Resort & Marina

In warm weather months, this historic, upscale waterfront resort, where the Connecticut River flows into Long Island Sound, is bright and bustling, with a high-energy, summer vacationing vibe. Come winter, the boat traffic slows, the marina empties, and the resort becomes calmer, cozier, and even more luxurious.

There’s a variety of accommodations spread out over the seaside complex, including rooms and suites in the main house and in separate guest houses, many with water views and wood-burning fireplaces. After checking in, take a brisk walk to the nearby lighthouse, followed by a visit to the Spa at Saybrook Point, the resort’s ultra-luxe, full-service spa, with a sauna, steam room, and indoor saltwater pool.

Dinner that night should be at Fresh Salt, with a warming fireplace and sea views, and a contemporary vibe. The menu gives a nod to its waterside location, with an emphasis on fresh seafood dishes, like grilled octopus, cioppino, pepper-crusted swordfish, and a raw bar with local oysters. The lobby lounge is a great place for a quiet nightcap.

One more feel-good reason to stay here: The resort has received a slew of awards and recognition for its sustainable practices and is one of only 400 or so Energy Star-rated properties in the country. Two Bridge St., Old Saybrook, Conn. 800-243-0212, www.saybrook.com, king room with a fireplace starts at $289.

Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Resort & Marina has a warming fireplace and sea views, and a contemporary vibe.Courtesy/Saybrook Point Resort & Marina

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