Follow your hearts to one of Connecticut's great destinations for romance.
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Homestead Inn, Greenwich
These days, when you decide to spring for a little getaway with your honey, it had better be a memorable occasion in every way. We’re talking over-the-top romantic, which means, to my mind, a distinctive hotel or inn, a superb meal and a cozy place to lay your head. Key to the whole enterprise, of course: a simpatico companion with whom to share it all. Throw in soft lighting, attentive service and a libation or two, and as my Magic 8-Ball used to say, the “outlook is good.”
All of the above can be found under one roof at the Homestead Inn in Greenwich, long one of the brightest jewels in Connecticut’s crown. Situated on three acres among mature specimen trees and alluring gardens in the stately Belle Haven neighborhood, the 19th century Victorian manor house has never looked lovelier. Inside, the inn is elegant but in no way forbidding, glowing with good health and bonhomie, and perfectly itself—that is, up to the exacting standards of husband-and-wife team Thomas and Theresa Henkelmann. He presides over the four-star French restaurant that bears his name; she reigns on the hotel side. Together, their efforts have paid off handsomely, with Relais & Châteaux membership, top ratings from Zagat and numerous other accolades, including four stars from Connecticut Magazine restaurant reviewer Elise Maclay, and Patricia Brooks’ first Extraordinary rating in 30 years in The New York Times.
Theresa, who spent years as an interior designer, oversaw every aspect of the décor. Her penchant for rich fabrics, eccentric accent pieces and only the finest materials—Brunschwig & Fils, Donghia, Dana Robes bespoke cherry furniture—as well as her fearless use of color inform every common area and bedchamber. Every individually designed room has its own distinct ambience, with art and artifacts from around the globe woven into the mix. (Ours had citrine walls, a Thai hand-painted wooden horse, a grand hand-carved Indian mirror inlaid with over 100 smaller mirrors and an exotic reindeer-moss tree in one corner.) Add to these elements sumptuous linens, the plushest towels and thoughtful touches like heated bathroom floors, and the scene is set for romance.
But now, it’s back down a short flight of stairs to dinner, where a very special experience awaits. With half-timbered ceilings, arresting artwork and fireplace aglow, the Thomas Henkelmann restaurant is at once rustic and supremely elegant. Candles in colorful Murano glass holders flicker; tables gleam with Christofle silver and the finest china and stemware. But it is the chef’s artistry that makes the meal unforgettable.
A native of the Black Forest in Germany, Thomas Henkelmann cooked at Michelin three-star restaurants in Munich and Alsace before coming to the States. His is French cuisine at its hautest, yet his creations—sautéed sweetbreads with French style peas and Perigord black truffle sauce, seared yellowfin tuna with mango-pineapple chutney, crisp sautéed Atlantic sea bass with artichoke purée and red wine sauce—is never precious or contrived. Desserts, such as warm Valrhona chocolate soufflé cake with liquid chocolate center and pistachio ice cream, and caramelized passion fruit custard with raspberries, are exquisite.
All in all, both inn and restaurant are pretty near perfect. And that will cost you. But you will get what you pay for here. So give yourself over to the Henkelmann magic—enter the front door, prepare to be coddled and cosseted, and let the Homestead Inn do the rest. —Valerie Schroth
Homestead Inn, (203) 869-7500 or homesteadinn.com.