Six fresh new boutique hotels throughout Vermont that combine style and intimacy and are perfect for skiers and tourists alike.
Vermont is known for its intimate, high-end inns, places such as Stowe’s Topnotch and the Trapp Family Lodge, Warren’s The Pitcher Inn, Barnard’s Twin Farms, the Woodstock Inn and Manchester’s Equinox Resort.
Now, there’s a new crop of boutique lodges with affordable rates that start at under $200 a night. With contemporary design and a nod to local craftsmanship, these places effortlessly combine a sense of style with a true Vermont sense of place. Blessedly un-stuffy, they also keep a skier’s comfort front and center. And their bars have become hot après-ski watering holes.
Just off the waterfront in Burlington, Hotel VT has been capturing worldwide awards for the past couple of years for its clean design, attentive service and perfect Vermont touches: Vermont soaps, Johnson Woolen Mill bathrobes, and free cruiser bikes in the lobby. It’s a great place to start or end a weekend. In the fall, sit at the fire pit and sip a local brew from the Juniper Bar or listen in on DJ Fridays or Jazz Wednesdays when local talent such as Audrey Bernstein and others make the lobby a hopping scene. www.hotelvt.com.
If you are planning to visit Smuggler’s Notch, European Artists’ B&B has views of Camel’s Hump and Mount Mansfield and three rooms tastefully decorated in the style of artists Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso and Vassily Kandinski. Parisian hostess Laure Torkler prepares all-local breakfasts and will even do a four-course dinner, on demand. www.theeuropeanartists.com
In Stowe, two new hotels are making waves this season. Last spring, Edson Hill, an old grande dame of a resort, lifted her hoop skirt and had a stunning makeover by owner Susan Stacy of the Boston design firm Gauthier-Stacy. Now, bright cream-colored walls, soft new carpets, easy chairs and antique games greet guests at the inn set high on a hill with its own network of cross-country trails. www.edsonhill.com.
Just down the Mountain Road, Stowe’s Ye Olde Pickwick Inn is being reborn as Field Guide, a thoroughly hip addition to the Lark hotel group. Headboards are made of slabs of tree trunks, and barnboard warms an otherwise stark, clean bathroom. The hotel is set to open October 1. The best part: you can walk to many of Stowe’s downtown bars, shops and movie theater. www.fieldguidestowe.com.
In Woodstock, Aaren Macksoud and his wife, Paulina, have expanded their year-old Inn on the River and its restaurant/bar, 506 Main. The charming young couple also own a suite of swank hotels on Zanzibar and in Nairobi and Berlin. Paulina Rugaz Macksoud is an internationally acclaimed designer and it shows in everything from the antique bar (formerly a monastery’s office desk) to the cushions she designs (with sayings such as “Keep Calm and Move to Vermont” and sells at the gift shop. The bar’s lounge is a chic and comfy place with lots of old wood tables and soft leather chesterfield couches.
The couple have two young children and, accordingly, there’s a playroom outfitted with a toy kitchen, a game room for teenagers, a pool room for adults and an indoor pool and hot tub. Aaren, who grew up in Woodstock, also wants to make use of the building’s old ski lockers and is working on a deal where if you book a certain number of weekends, you can keep your skis there. www.ontheriverwoodstock.com
Finally, Manchester will soon be home to three new hotels. The first to come online, The Taconic, will be Kimpton Hotels entrée to Vermont. The largest of all the hotels mentioned here, the 87-room hotel will have a conference room and ballroom and is slated to open this fall. www.kimptonhotels.com.