Treats and retreats at the Four Columns Inn in Newfane, Vt.
It was my little dog, BiBi, who lead me to the Four Columns Inn in Newfane, Vt. See, I was headed to this small town for a bout of dog training and needed a place to stay. Four Columns Inn was the only option and had two dog-friendly suites. So, I booked one and drove 2½-hours north of Boston to this gracious, white-columned retreat, unaware that Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, and Mick Jagger been guests there.
Set on 138-acres, Four Columns Inn opened in 1960, first as a guesthouse and then as a lodge. In 2015, Charles Mallory, founder and CEO, Greenwich Hospitality Group, purchased the lodge, which had been shuttered for two years. Maintaining the property’s historical bones, he completely refurbished it, resulting in 15 luxuriously appointed rooms, a private home that sleeps nine, a superb restaurant, spa, fitness center, outdoor pool, and gorgeous, landscaped grounds.
BiBi and I arrived around teatime and checked in. We were the only ones in the small front lobby, adjacent to an airy salon for reading and games. After getting our key, we headed to our room near the main house on the first floor “for the convenience of your four-legged friends.” My room, like most, had a gas-lit fireplace, high-speed Wi-Fi, a modern shower, and a soaking tub. (Some rooms have jacuzzi tubs.) The towels hailed from Italy, as did the Bvlgari amenities, supplemented with homemade soap from nearby West Townshend Botanicals . I had a King poster bed topped with crisp French sheets; I’d brought BiBi’s dog bed from home, although the inn would have supplied her with one upon request. A bevy of locally sourced snacks was available to me; BiBi received a water bowl, waste bags, and dog treats. All rooms come with a full breakfast.
Eager to explore the grounds, BiBi and I headed out for a walk. The weather was warm and flowers bloomed around the property, including by the stone-terraced swimming pool and along the front pond leading down to Smith Brook. Garden beds near the pool overflowed with fresh herbs, greens, and veggies destined for Artisan Restaurant, Tavern and Garden. French-born executive chef Frederic Kieffer oversees the kitchen; Erin Bevan, who worked with several Boston chefs, including Jody Adams, is the chef de cuisine. Whatever ingredients don’t come from the inn, it sources from area producers. To wit, the meltingly tender semolina cakes I had for dinner in the votive-lit, post-and-beam dining room, featured Putney-based Parish Hill Creamery cheese, wild mushrooms gathered that morning, and garden tomato marmalade. A salad showcased the inn’s luscious tomatoes, crisp radish, and zucchini, as well as fresh herbs and edible flowers, including pansies, and Jump-ups. The duck arrived with grilled local peaches and a cornmeal cake, the grain coming from Four Star Farms in Northfield, Mass.
For more casual dining, guests either can eat off the main dining room in the Tavern, which has its own bar and more casual menu and dress code, or outside in the Garden, a beautiful patio space overlooking the flower patches and pool.
The Spa, tucked inside the inn’s former chicken coop, may be a diminutive, but delivers big results in terms of relaxation. It has a private steam bath and shower and treatments include Ashiatsu, Craniosacral Therapy and various massages, most incorporating fragrant body scrubs made with the inn’s herbs, like the lemon verbena sugar scrub I purchased at reception. During warmer months, treatments can be enjoyed outside in a private, tent-like area by the inn’s back pond.
Breakfast is served in the Tavern and features pancakes, French toast, oatmeal with nuts, berries, and Vermont maple syrup, along with local yogurt and granola. One also can order eggs, courtesy of the inn’s chickens, which I enjoyed in an omelet with local spinach, bacon, and smoked cheddar cheese. Rosemary potatoes accompanied the eggs, along with tiny blueberry muffins and toast with homemade blueberry jam.
As far as sightseeing, the town of Newfane has little more than a public green and white congregational church. However, Brattleboro is only 10 minutes away by car and numerous cultural and natural attractions are nearby.
Four Columns Inn, 21 West St., Newfane, Vt., 802-365-7713, fourcolumnsvt.com. Room rates from $185. Guests with pets pay a $50 pet fee with a small percentage going to local animal shelters at the end of the year.