Bethel Inn, Grand Hotels, Green Mountain Inn, Inn at Shelburne Farms, Mount Washington Hotel, Mountain View Grand Hotel, New England, Poland Springs Resort ME, Porch Picnics, The Balsams Resort, Wentworth by the Sea, Wentworth Hall
I have always loved a great porch. For part of my childhood, we lived on a hill in town that had a view from the enormous wrap-around porch in front, clear to Lake Champlain 3 miles away, and beyond to the Adirondack Mountains on a clear day. I think as a youngster, I took this for granted. Neighbors spent a lot of time visiting on porches in those days, it was a place to play outside in rainy weather and I even had friends stay over in the summer and we’d ‘sleep out’ on the porch.
Anyway, I suspect this is where I get my ‘porch love’ from. Since then, a great porch always catches my eye, be it on a farmhouse, city house, hardware store or historic hotel. When visiting the many old inns and hotels I’ve been fortunate to stay in for the past several years, it has been a criterion I have used to evaluate each of the places.
Even before we were able to stay at any old inns, we would sometimes take day trips with destinations of old inns and hotels where we would tour the grounds, Pat would check out the golf course and I would spend some time sitting on the porch with a book. What a pleasure to stay in one of these places and be able to spend hours on the porch, watching the view, having a picnic or enjoying a good book. I’ve expanded the term ‘porch’ here to include some other structures as well, like gazebos, for purposes of this post.
These are some of my favorite porch memories:
The Inn at Shelburne Farms Shelburne VT We’d spent the afternoon canoeing on Lake Champlain, whose shore the inn is located upon, when a storm blew up quite seemingly out of nowhere and we paddled back to shore as quickly as possible. We retrieved our cooler and picnic basket, from the car, and supplemented the contents with the cheese and fresh fruit basket that was included with our stay there, and had a memorable picnic in one of the gazebo-like sections of the wonderful covered porch there. The wind raged and lightning bounced between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks and lanced like spears thrust into the lake, while thunder boomed for hours around us. We were securely sunk, deep into well-padded antique wicker porch furniture, enjoying every moment of the show.
The Balsams, Dixville Notch NH This was one of those places we drove to years ago to look at with the intent to return as guests to one day. We had a picnic in the gazebo on the grounds there when we arrived, then drove further up the mountain road to the legendary Donald Ross designed panoramic golf course at the top. Not being a golfer, I had no intention of being impressed there and when we arrived at the top and Pat went into the pro shop, I sat on the grass nearby and pulled out a book. Within moments, Pat had returned saying I needed to go through to the far side of the building and see the view. So, I did. Wow! What a view it was! It isn’t called panoramic for nothing! A spacious raised deck in front of the restaurant section of the building, was the perfect place to take in the awe inspiring vista. Several mountains came together directly in front of us. Several of the fairways and greens were stretched out below. Pat concluded his interrogation of the pro shop staff and we pooled our financial resources and ordered one ice cream to share, to justify and prolong our continued presence there on the deck. Soon a tuxedoed waiter returned with our order elegantly served on a silver tray. For a little while, we felt like displaced royalty.
The Green Mountain Inn The porch at this inn, located on Main St. in Stowe Vermont, brought me back to my childhood. It is a two-story porch located on the front of the original part of the vintage brick inn, overlooking Main Street in Stowe Vermont. I had picked up a booklet about the history of the village, at the nearby historical society, and reading it on that porch, made it very easy to imagine the years rolling backward around me.
The Woodstock Inn, Woodstock VT While this inn does not have the sprawling front porch so typical of many historic New England inns, it does have some more intimate, eat on, courtyard style balconies at the back, adjacent to the pub and overlooking the pool and garden area. You can order a drink or a meal there and enjoy the peaceful quiet so prevalent at that accommodation.
Eagle Mountain House, Jackson NH The porch here, although on the front of the hotel which is near the road, manages to have a back road, laid back feel to it. The hotel is in a less-traveled section of town and it’s easy to sit on the porch and enjoy the view of the mountains and golf course beyond. It proved a welcome refuge when we stayed one very rainy weekend.
Mountain View Grand, Whitefield NH The porch at the Mountain View Grand is fairly busy located at the main entrance with guests coming and going all day long, but looking beyond the road in front to the golf course and White Mountains view beyond, is a breath-taking experience. I found the porch there too distracting to get much serious reading done, but for people-watching and eaves-dropping on interesting conversations, it was unbeatable! Fortunately, the hotel provided a ring of Adirondack Chairs across the street which made a great reading location.
Wentworth by the Sea, Newcastle NH The porch here surrounds quite a bit of the first floor of the hotel. If you enjoy harbor views, with sunrises and sunsets, you will love spending time on the porch there. I was struck how the porch at one end looked a lot like the prow of a ship coming into shore. What do you think?
Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods NH This porch surrounds the building and has spectacular views in every direction. During our stay here, I found myself moving around to various areas on the porch, between hikes around the grounds, at differing times of the day. I was able to see the sun rise from one aspect, move out of the sun later in the day to a shady area, and watch the sunset, all from different sections of the porch. Sitting out front for a while at mid-day, I witnessed the fairy tale magic of a wedding party arriving in a horse-drawn carriage!
Wentworth Hall, Jackson NH The porch here is extensive, following the interesting curves of the main building, with sumptuous wicker furniture and lots of huge flower boxes placed around the border. It is easy to plan to spend a short time sitting there, going over travel information and the like, and become distracted by the hypnotic water falls across the road, only to find yourself still there, hours later…
Oceanic Hotel, Star Island, Isles of Shoals NH/ME This wrap-around porch is so idyllic, it’s difficult to describe. Located on Star Island, the view from every aspect is of the harbor or open ocean, with light houses and sailboats on the horizon. The breeze seems to blow constantly here and sunrise and sunset are extra special from this porch, filled with Shaker-syle rocking chairs. No one bothers you on this porch and it’s got to be very close to Heaven-on-Earth there.
Poland Springs Resort, Poland Springs ME While the inn there is not elegant like many of the others, it is located in a wonderful area and the grounds are quite historically interesting. Sitting on the porch there, one fall day, I was able to enjoy a live Irish Balladeer in the pub, whose open windows were adjacent to the porch and located directly behind me. It was a pleasant way to pass some reading time.
Bethel Inn, Bethel ME The porch here is rather compact and patio-like, surrounded by a garden and very pretty with big old-fashioned rockers. If you crave a bit more privacy, there’s a wonderful gazebo on the village green nearby. It’s spacious and well located to watch the village life in Bethel move by, while sitting comfortably in your own elegant cocoon.