Follow your hearts to one of Connecticut's great destinations for romance.
(page 5 of 7)
Rock Hall, Colebrook
As we entered the grand 13-foot-high living room, the tune wafting through the sound system was “Unforgettable,” sung by the incomparable Nat King Cole. Whether planned by our host or serendipitous, that pretty much summed up our experience at the aptly named Rock Hall, whose first-floor exterior walls, five chimneys, entrance gates and encircling walls are a showcase of Connecticut rock. Designed in 1911 by Addison Mizner, known for his eclectic blend of architectural styles in homes for the rich and famous of Boca Raton and Palm Beach, Fla., the 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean-Moorish manse is one of only two in New England attributed to the eccentric architect (popularized by Sondheim’s Road Show). Fortunately for us, it has been lovingly restored by current owners Michael and Stella Somers, and opened as a luxury bed-and-breakfast just last fall.
Michael gave us a tour, then left us to make ourselves at home, which we did, eyeing the baronial dining room, library, game room, sun room and “servants’ dining room” (there were 24 back when) before settling into one of several seating areas in the elegantly paneled living room to enjoy a complimentary drink in style (wine in Orrefors stemware, chocolate martinis in handmade martini glasses, Manhattans in Lalique tumblers) by the fire. And a roaring one it was, filling a massive fireplace that would have fit nicely in a European castle.
Then we had our choice—would it be billiards in the billiards room, Ping-Pong, foosball or pinball in the game room, a movie in the home theater (February’s theme is, of course, love) or just retiring to Chamber No. 2? While all sounded enticing, having driven a distance to get to this mountaintop retreat in rural Colebrook (population 1,500), we opted for Chamber No. 2. Likewise grand in size (20-by-21, with 9-by-14 bath) and eclectic in appointments (four-poster Moorish bed with European linens, Empire night stands, antique crystal sconces), it too had a working fireplace, and we soon had a fire going there as well. Then there was nothing to do but curl up in the soft down bed with a good book from the hand-carved antique bookcase (The Prize seemed apropos, as we felt we’d won it, also A Year in Provence, as we felt worlds away from civilization), turn on the TV or just . . . .
The next morning, we were treated to a gourmet Mediterranean breakfast prepared by our genial host (his own house-cured gravlax and delicious zucchini-Parmesan frittata, Stella’s homemade blueberry preserves), then were invited to snowshoe through the 23-acre property or opt for a couple’s massage from Star Soleil (on-site or in Winsted or Torrington). We opted instead to explore the area, starting with lunch at the West Street Grill in Litchfield—splendid burgers, brandade de morue (Provençal comfort food), homey bread-and-butter pudding—stopping to see the splendidly restored Warner Theatre in Torrington (Long Day’s Journey into Night runs Feb. 7-15, Smokey Joe’s Café Feb. 21-28) and ending with a casual dinner (homemade potpie and great drinks) and movie at Gilson Theater in Winsted. After that, it was back for night No. 2 in Chamber No. 2. Ah, bliss.
With Norfolk just three miles up the road, we’re already planning another unforgettable getaway during the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, June 20-Aug. 23, when the splendid Olmsted-landscaped grounds will be in full flower—day lilies, mountain laurel, rhododendrons—and we can swim in the 75-foot pool, play tennis on the synthetic-grass court, and picnic in the tennis gazebo, orchard or wildflower meadow. —Dale B. Salm
Rock Hall, (860) 379-2230 or 19rockhallroad.com.