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New Hampshire

Inn at Thorn Hill & Spa

Inn at Thorn Hill & Spa

Address: Thorn Hill Road
Phone: 800-289-8990
Web Address: http://www.innatthornhill.com

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Jackson Village

THE INN:
Usually the same names tend to pop up on the “best” lists, but every now and then someone new emerges and that is how the Inn at Thorn Hill caught our attention. A few years ago Travel & Leisure Magazine ranked it # 7 in Top 15 $250 or Less category, #27 in Top 100 Continental U.S. and Canada hotels and #97 in Top 100 World's Best. After our May 2009 visit, we’re sorry it took so long to get there.

Perched on a hill with wonderful views of the mountains and the village below, there’s much to like here from good sized rooms with amenities like two person Jacuzzis and steam showers to a great wine list to an excellent restaurant and  a gracious staff. With lots to do in the surrounding area, particularly in winter, the Inn is an ideal weekend destination.

There is a small reception area and library on the main floor, but most of the space is devoted to the enjoyment of food and drink. The cozy lounge is organized into conversation areas, two of which surround fireplaces, with comfortable chairs and leather couches. A fully stocked bar also offers some 30 wines by the glass with a fun “flight” option where you can taste 3 different wines for about $11. Mondays and Saturdays have piano entertainment.

The elegant dining room sits just beyond the lounge and when the weather is nice you can enjoy wonderful views while dining outside on the porch.

THE ROOMS:
There are 18 rooms, 4 suites and 3 cottages on the property. I particularly like the rooms in the Main Building as they have been completely redone following a 2002 fire. My comfortable room, Mt. Madison, had a warm gold faux finish on the walls that was complimented by a gold and burgundy comforter and pillow shams. The room had a beautiful matching carved antique dresser and head/footboard and a great antique armoire. The bed was plump and comfortable and dressed in luxury linens. The bath was huge and featured a two person Jacuzzi (with mood setting candles), a steam shower (my favorite amenity), Gilchrist & Soames toiletries and plush towels and robes. Gray Manor and Mt. Monroe are two other preferred rooms.

THE RESTAURANT:
The kitchen is under the direction of John Russ who hails from New Orleans and cut his culinary teeth at the Ritz Carlton, Windsor Court and Restaurant August in that city. The New Orleans influence can be seen in dishes like Yukon Gold potato gnocchi with a spicy red sauce with house made bacon and bianco sardo  and seared foie gras with a red beet puree, red onion marmalade and spiced pecans and chicken with a red lentil salad with duck bacon and spicy tasso jus. The menu changes often based on the season and product availability. During my stay I enjoyed a wonderful gnocchi with pancetta and Parmesan and a wild roasted pheasant. Paired with an excellent Rioja, it was a thoroughly enjoyable dinner.

Speaking of wine, these folks take it seriously from the large by-the-glass list to its Wine Club and Wine Dinners to its fantastic Top 50 Wine list from their 3000 bottle cellar. This is a selection of current favorites, all at very reasonable prices. Reason alone to come here.

Call ahead and see if you can book the Cooperage, which is a private, stone walled dining and tasting room downstairs.

The Lounge also has its own menu which features small plates with items like an artisanal cheese plate, coq au vin, antipasto and braised pork belly. Great for a snack or a casual dinner.

Breakfast, served from 7:30am, is also an event. It was the first time I was served an amuse bouche (a salad of oranges, greens and almonds) other than at dinner. My breakfast was an absolutely delicious creation of poached eggs over shredded beef and onions and roasted potatoes.

THE SERVICE:
The Inn is owned and run by Jim & Ibby Cooper whose guiding hands are seen everywhere. The experience is always better when the owners actually manage the property. The staff here is pleasant and efficient, many are interns from Europe. Steve Salmeri, the Assistant Innkeeper was behind the bar on my visit and we had a delightful conversation about wine and the Inn’s philosophy.

THE RATES:
Rates include; full breakfast daily, afternoon tea and cookies and dinner in the dining room each night. This is one of the best values we have seen anywhere. Weekend rates range from $169-$339 in December (up to the 22nd) and April/May. $195-$400 the rest of the year, slightly higher at Christmas and Foliage.

WHAT OTHERS SAY:
AAA Four Diamond Award Recipient
“verything’s coming up roses at this “fabulous inn overlooking” the White Mountains and within walking distance of Jackson Village; designed by Stanford White in 1895 and “recently rebuilt” (with a new spa), it features “elegantly furnished rooms” and cottages with prime views of Mount Washington and “personal touches” such as fireplaces and two-person Jacuzzis; but it may be the on-site, Med-inspired New England regional restaurant with a “great” 3,000-bottle wine list that prompts most to proclaim they “can’t wait to go back” (a three-course meal and an afternoon tea is included in the room rate)…” ZAGAT

WHILE YOU ARE THERE:
There is a day spa, a fitness room and sauna and an outdoor pool and hot tub on the premises. You won’t want to miss Jackson Falls and it’s a great place for a picnic. The Wentworth Golf Club is right in the Village as are shops and galleries. You can rent bikes in town and canoes and kayaks nearby. The area is great for fly fishing and in the winter skiing, skating, shoe shoeing and other winter sports abound in the area.

DRIVING DISTANCE:
Boston: 3 hours, Hartford 4 hours, 31 minutes ,Albany: 5 hours, NYC: 6 hours, 50 minutes.

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