The absolute best thing about winter in New England could very well be staying inside. Preferably, next to a roaring, crackling fireplace. There’s something very gratifying about snuggling up to the hearth, with a good book or a loved one (or both), while Old Man Winter roars.
And apparently, it’s good for you, too. According to scientists, sitting next to the fire can decrease your blood pressure. And, the longer we sit, the calmer we get. The multisensory experience — smell the smoke, feel the heat, watch the flames — focuses our attention and relaxes us. We get it. Let the snow fall, the winds rage and icicles form, as long as we’ve got a fire to keep us warm. Get your cozy on at these New England lodgings with fabulous fireplaces.
Hotel Viking, Newport, R.I.
A member of the Historic Hotels of America, this brick grande dame, built in 1926, oozes Old World luxury. Set in Newport’s Historic Hill neighborhood, surrounded by restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings and homes, the lavish hotel has 12 gas or electric fireplaces; seven are in guest rooms and five in public areas.
Your blood pressure may drop as soon as you walk into the lobby of this hotel, with a modern three-sided gas fireplace encased in white marble. It’s a great space to hang out, with comfy, contemporary couches and chairs surrounding the hearth.
For views and warmth, head to Top of Newport, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant, with two fireplace pits. There are two more outdoor pits on One Bellevue Patio, the hotel’s ground-floor terrace. The firepits are popular places for gathering, where you can also make s’mores and enjoy other food and drinks. During the warmer months, there’s live entertainment and events on the patio, such as Spirits & Stogies (a cigar and spirits pairing event with live music) and Paws on the Patio (with pet-friendly activities and treats.)
The hotel has fireplaces in the updated Fireside Estate rooms, located in the original wings of the hotel, with king beds and modern baths, and in three of its suites, including the Marble House Suite, featuring a marble fireplace; the 900-square-foot Kingscote Suite, with a private balcony; and the 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom Breakers Suite, the largest accommodation, with a formal dining room, separate living areas, and two fireplaces. 401-847-3300, www.hotelviking.com
The Wentworth, Jackson, N.H.
This refined and elegant inn, overlooking picturesque Jackson Village, is considered one of the most romantic in New England. Warm and charming, polished and dignified, the innkeepers have managed to hit just the right balance with this impeccably restored 1900s country estate. Walk across the pillared porch into the grand lobby and you’ll be greeted with a friendly welcome and a warming, wood-fed fire.
Hopefully you’ve reserved a deluxe room. There are 61 rooms and suites in total — and 40 of them have gas fireplaces with private outdoor hot tubs; all of the rooms are spacious and stylish. The Amster Cottage, with four rooms and a shared sitting area, boasts a gorgeous 1886 stone fireplace. There’s also a private outdoor patio and hot tub.
Take a sleigh ride at nearby Nestlenook Farm, cross-country ski at the renowned Jackson XC center, and return to have dinner in the white linen, fresh flower, candlelit dining room, serving sophisticated farm-to-table cuisine. Or, step into the lounge for traditional Swiss fondue and cocktails. After, have drinks next to the roaring firepit at the outdoor ice bar overlooking the inn’s skating rink. And sleep well, tangled in lush linens and fluffy comforters, in front of the fire.
Notchland Inn, Hart’s Location, N.H.
This imposing, sprawling granite mansion sits on a 100-acre estate, bounded by the White Mountain National Forest and in the shadows of the Presidential Mountain Range. Don your fleece and bring your outdoor gear. There are hundreds of kilometers of cross-country skiing, miles of hiking trails, and acres of backcountry snowshoeing terrain nearby (and out the front door.) Several alpine ski resorts are a short drive away. Spend the day playing outside, and then return to the Notchland, where they keep the home fires burning. (Or skip the outdoor play, bring a good book, and cozy up).
There are eight rooms, five suites, and two cottages, and all have a wood-burning fireplace. And, there are three more fireplaces in the public areas. Comfy rooms have traditional décor (think: wing back chairs, floral wallpaper, period antiques) and private baths. The cottages, for two or four guests, have kitchen facilities and are pet friendly; both have working fireplaces.
Spend some time next to the fireplace in the sitting room in the main house, with an arts and crafts era, cast iron fireplace hood commissioned by former innkeeper Florence Morey and designed and crafted by Gustav Stickley. And then head to dinner. It’s a five-course, prix fixe fancy-ish affair. And, yes, the dining room has a woodburning fireplace. 603-374-6131, www.notchland.com
Pitcher Inn Warren, Vt.
Whimsical. Creative. Handcrafted. Also, warm, inviting, and indulgent. We love this rustically elegant inn, especially in winter when the fires are glowing. There are nine unique, themed rooms and a couple of two-bedroom suites, and 14 wood-burning fireplaces! Here, you’ll have the whole multi-sensory fireplace experience, just about everywhere you turn.
Request a table next to one of two fireplaces in 275 Main, the refined, fine dining restaurant, with dishes like Hamachi tartare, grilled octopus, porcini-crusted halibut and parsnip and duck cappellacci, or cozy up to the woodburning fire in Tracks tavern.
Most of the rooms and suites also have wood burning fireplaces, and story-telling designs, like the Trout room, with a tree-trunk bed frame, ribbed ceiling (to mimic the bottom of a guide boat), and a river stone fireplace. The Mountain room evokes a cabin in the woods (a very nice cabin), with a slate fireplace in the sitting area and a bathroom with a black slate steam shower. The Lodge sounds rustic but isn’t. There’s a pyramid-shaped bed frame topped with an eagle fronting a massive dark marble framed fireplace; the ultra-luxe bath has marble slabs, steam room, and a jetted tub. It’s a little Egypt in Vermont. The dog-friendly Stable Suite has two bedrooms, wood-paneled walls, and a wood-burning brick fireplace. Fire butlers will light the fireplaces and stock wood for you — and deliver hot toddies and food. 802-496-6350, www.pitcherinn.comDiane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.