Rabbit Hill Inn
Rabbit Hill Inn
Address: 48 Lower Waterford Road
Web Address: http://www.rabbithillinn.com
Lower Waterford, Vermont
THE INN: There is so much to like about the 200+ year old Rabbit Hill Inn in northeastern Vermont that it is hard to know where to begin. The best place, I guess, is with the innkeepers who after 15 years still enjoy welcoming guests and it shows in their warm and gracious hospitality. The buildings and property are immaculately maintained. The rural setting is tranquil and soothing. The staff is happy and friendly. And, the restaurant is a revelation. That this inn, far from anyplace, was nearly full on a Sunday night in the shoulder season, (after foliage and before snow) speaks volumes for its appeal.
THE ROOMS: There are 19 rooms in three buildings; four Classic, six Superior and nine Luxury. All are beautifully decorated with a different style and personality. Their site’s amenities chart helps to differentiate between the rooms. My room, the Samuel Hodby (one of the Luxury Rooms) had a private entrance, a shared porch that overlooked the valley, a fireplace and a 48 jet double whirlpool. Decorated with antiques and in shades of hunter green and burgundy, it was a large comfortable room with a king canopy bed and a couch and chair sitting area around the fireplace. Despite the modern amenities, vestiges of the past remain that add character to the room; the fireplace brick and mantel, the latch doors, the pine plank floors and the bookcases. Luxury linens and towels, a CD player with soothing music choices, every bathroom toiletry you can imagine, plush robes and a coffee maker round out the list of amenities that will make it hard for you to leave your room. With no TV, phone or Internet (except in the public rooms) you’ll have no excuse not to relax and focus on your partner.
THE RESTAURANT: You’ll want to start with a drink at the Snooty Fox Pub, a small three seat bar with 3 beers on tap and about a dozen wines by the glass. Shoot some darts, play a game or chat with Brian. There are two dining rooms, but I prefer the main room with its dark green walls, white tin ceiling, gold framed artwork and fireplace. With soft indirect lighting, antique pine tables and chairs and old pine floors with area rugs, this is a warm and cozy room.
The kitchen is under the helm of Chef Matthew Secich, a graduate of Johnson & Wales in Charleston. He studied under Master Chef Karl Guggenmos and then his culinary journey included stints at three of America's greatest restaurants, the Inn at Little Washington, The Ryland Inn and Charlie Trotter's. If it is true that greatness can rub off.....you won't want to miss an opportunity to dine here.
Some recent menu highlights: appetizers: country fried veal with cole slaw and biscui, soba noodles, fluke - pea pods - dashi broth and guinea hen terrine, boudin noir & blanc - liver mousse, entress: sauteed pheasant breast, bulgur wheat - squash, zucchini, spinach; roasted monkfish, wild boar bacon - patty pan ratatouille. Desserts: warm peach cobbler, basil creme fraiche - raspberry sauce - pickled cherries, chocolate silk, dark chocolate confection - port braised blackberry sauce - blackberry ice cream - chocolate bark
The 40 item list may be short on quantity, but it is huge in quality and value. A vintage Tattinger at $46, a Chassagne Montrachet at $79, a Chevrey Chambertin at $67 and a Cote du Rhone at $29 are just some of the highlights. It is so refreshing to see a list like this where the restaurant prices its wines so the diner can truly enjoy them.
THE SERVICE: Too many inns and B&B’s are vanity projects where owners turn over management to someone else. Sometimes that works and other times it doesn’t. Here the owners are the operators as well and they work hard at making sure everyone is comfortable and happy. You would have to search far and wide to find two nicer innkeepers than Leslie and Brian. They are always around, always asking if they can help, yet in a way that is anything but obtrusive.
THE RATES: Classic Rooms-$199-$239, Superior Rooms-$259-$299, Luxury Rooms-$335-$399
WHAT OTHERS SAY: “Hop away from it all at this “hidden gem” in Lower Waterford (85 miles from Burlington), a “historic” inn on 15 acres “surrounded by the natural beauty of rural Vermont”, a swimming pond and White Mountain views: visitors are treated “like royalty” in “pleasant”, antiques-furnished rooms, many with double whirlpool tubs and fireplaces (but no telephone or TV): the dining room serves up “world class” New American cuisine as well as a candlelit breakfast.” ZAGAT
Named one of the "Top 10 Inns in U.S. and Canada" by Travel & Leisure Magazine
WHILE YOU ARE THERE: On property you can wander through the gardens, walk (or snowshoe) the 10 acres of wooded trails, take a dip in the spring fed pond, play horseshoes or shuffleboard, try your luck at a Stave puzzle or pick a book and curl up by a fireplace. Within a short distance from the Inn, there’s horseback riding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, sleigh rides, golf, boating, hiking, shopping, antiquing and more. There’s also some interesting drives that will get you to some Vermont landmarks like. The Inn’s site has a comprehensive list of activities.
DRIVING DISTANCE FROM: Albany-3 hours 50 minutes, Hartford-3 ½ hours, Boston-2 hours 50 minutes, New York-6 hours