A good place to spend the night, interesting choices for meals, absorbing or entertaining things to do—these are the three basics we all seek when we travel. Here are some itineraries where the “threes” are wild.
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Artful Old Lyme
In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love,” said Tennyson. And ours turns to thoughts of sun-dappled sylvan landscapes, like those painted en plein air by the artists of the Old Lyme Art Colony, aka the American Impressionists, who captured their impressions on canvas a century ago around the Lyme Street home of Miss Florence Griswold, their landlady and muse. Happily for us art aficionados, many of their paintings are displayed today in that same home, now the Florence Griswold Museum, and in the museum’s new Krieble Gallery overlooking the lazy Lieutenant River.
How fortuitous, then, to find a room available next door at the Bee and Thistle Inn, always known for gracious accommodations and fine dining and said to be even better under new owners Linnea and David Rufo. For us, the ideal base for an artful triple play.
Arriving mid-day on Saturday, we got our first artful fix across the street at the Old Lyme Inn. Its splendid reproduction of Childe Hassam’s “House of Flowers,” Impressionist-style landscapes by local artist Roger Dennis and Winslow Homer-inspired seascape by Lyme Art Academy students constitute a virtual Old Lyme Art 101. One delicious lunch later (iceberg lettuce filled with creamy Gorgonzola, tempura shrimp and curried chicken salad, all perfectly executed by chef Chris Michaels), we left for the Flo Gris. We started with the dining-room panels and doors in the main house, which tell the colony’s story in living color, then moved on to the sky-lit and serene gallery.
The heart of Old Lyme extends for less than a mile on Lyme Street, so we had time to check out the Cooley Gallery, a treasure trove of Old Lyme and Hudson River School masterworks, and E.F. Watermelon, a jewelry store/gallery that dazzles with estate and custom jewels, decorative minerals, the Simon Pearce collection, museum-quality inlaid works and internally carved quartz, before settling into our room at the Bee and Thistle. Quintessential country inn, it was all comfy and cozy with a four-poster bed, Oriental rugs and period accents. A quiet dinner in the warmly lit dining room proved extraordinary, from an intriguing cauliflower-arugula soup to luscious duck breast with cherry compote and classic beef Wellington—kudos to chef Kristofer Rowe—to a light and lovely lemon custard cake with fresh berries created by Linnea herself, onetime pastry chef at Wheatleigh and sous chef at Blantyre in Lenox, Mass. Dinner music—the dulcet strains of the multitalented Linnea accompanied by troubadour/acoustic guitarists Kipp and Danny—was pitch-perfect.
Sunday morning found us strolling the inn’s sculpture garden, a five-acre showcase for Berkshires artist Andrew DeVries that complements the Flo Gris gardens next door, then chatting with fellow guests in the fireplaced parlor (the inn has eight fireplaces in all!) before enjoying a gourmet breakfast of gravlax and local cheeses, blueberry French toast and cherry-pistachio scones. We had time for one last drive around town—stopping at the antiques shop Treasures, and Bowerbird, a gift-giver’s delight—before returning to life in the fast lane.
For more information on the Bee and Thistle Inn, call (860) 434-1667 or visit beeandthistleinn.com.