BETHLEHEM — New Hampshire is not known for being especially diverse, so you may be surprised by a new 65-room luxury resort in this small rural hillside community.
The Arlington Hotel has all the expected touches: elegant rooms, spacious public areas, a bar, an indoor pool, a salon, and a gymnasium. But it also has a special family flavor, and a menu that’s both delicious and a little unusual. That’s because the Arlington offers kosher food and luxury accommodations.
The original Arlington was a traditional New England wooden structure built in the 1860s. At that time, railroads were just starting to bring wealthy families from urban areas like New York up to the White Mountains to escape the uncomfortable city air; in those days before air-conditioning, cities were particularly difficult for people with severe hay fever.
In the 1920s, when cars began replacing trains, members of an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Brooklyn drove up and discovered the Arlington, which was already kosher. They loved the place — especially the food — and it soon became an annual tradition for folks in similar groups, mostly Satmars and other Hasidics, to spend their summers here.
That’s how the family of Joel Strulovic, the hotel’s managing owner, came to town. Shortly after World War II, his grandmother, Jolan Strulovic, came seeking relief for her severe allergy symptoms. She and her husband bought the place in 1968.
With the turn of the century, the Strulovic family was hoping to construct a newer version of the old hotel. But when financing grew tight, they decided to take in some partners. One of them, Joel Brach, was married to a designer who suggested the luxury hotel idea. Eventually, Helen Brach designed the guest rooms; the rest of the building was designed by well-known Israeli architect David Yehuda.
As a young man, Joel Stulovic spent his summers working alongside his grandmother in the Arlington kitchen, learning how to make delicious kosher dishes. He enjoyed the work and eventually opened a catering business in New York City. Then in 2002, the aging matriarch could no longer manage the hotel, and Joel took over.
High-end resort guests are used to high quality food, but the Arlington is still exceptional.
“The food is very important to our guests,” said general manager Brendan Poutre. “I get more calls asking about the food than about the rooms. It’s all farm-to-table, all-natural, all kosher, no preservatives.”
The daily breakfast is a lavish buffet featuring a variety of homemade breads, pastries, and egg dishes, as well as fresh fruit and cheeses. You’ll also find some not-so-breakfasty dishes like fresh tuna fish salad and green salads, as well as a variety of other veggies. Those are typically used for to-go lunches for guests when they head out sightseeing in the White Mountains.
Dinner is served in the white-tablecloth dining room and includes four sumptuous courses — all keeping within Jewish tradition but with a distinctive gourmet flair. One recent menu featured a beef tongue appetizer and a main course of French roasted chicken capon covered with a wine reduction sauce, and side dishes of honey-glazed yams and broccoli. Dessert was a strawberry shortcake.
Throughout the day, the lobby tearoom is available with teas, coffees, biscuits, snacks, and fruit.
Rooms from $159 a night. Suites can sleep large families. Visit arlingtonhotelnh.com.
Ray Carbone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.