Connecticut Travel: Winter Getaways
Be sure to find some time for yourself in the Garden Room, part of the spa at the Mayflower Inn.
A room with a view, a walk on the beach, a bit of pampering in a spa, a great meal enjoyed without interruption—all the fundamentals of a winter getaway are available in Connecticut. You just need to know where to look—and book.
Mayflower Inn, Washington
Perfection is such a difficult goal, so infrequently achieved. Yet at this nonpareil Connecticut country inn it seems to be built right into the beautiful woodwork. You find it in the big things (the sumptuous, comfortable guest rooms, handsome baths, cozy taproom, cloudlike spa) but also in small touches, such as the books in the room that we actually felt like reading, or the phone call at 5 p.m. politely wondering if we’d be interested in a room-service cocktail before dinner. On our most recent visit, in late fall, we had finished a very nice, quiet supper in front of a crackling fire and were on our way out the door, coats in hand, when John, the maitre d’, appeared before us, holding out a glass of port “to sustain us during our walk back to our room.” Of just such wonderful little gestures is perfection achieved.
The Study at Yale, New Haven
There is nothing in Connecticut quite like the lobby of The Study on the Friday and Saturday nights of Parents Weekend at Yale. Here in this sleek, accommodating space and adjacent Heirloom restaurant and bar are gathered notable Yalie moms and dads of all types (Arianna Huffington, Jonathan Tisch and a mysterious Asian billionaire were all in circulation last October; Caroline Kennedy and Steven Spielberg the year before) and their bright, polished children, eager to dive into a free meal and all the news from home. Things will likely be quieter here for your winter getaway, but you’ll enjoy being able to walk down the street to museums, theaters and shops. If you just want to hang, take note that The Study and the famous Strand Book Store in Manhattan have teamed up to come up with a list of “100 Great Books,” all of which are available for purchase in the lobby. And Heirloom is really good. From among the many marvels on the menu, we especially enjoyed the Northeast Sea Scallops, served with caramelized spaghetti squash, sage, capers, citrus and sultanas.
Water’s Edge Resort & Spa, Westbrook
If you are one of those incurable romantics who believe there’s nothing quite like a walk on the beach in the middle of winter, well, bundle up and head for Water’s Edge, the only Connecticut hotel with its own saltwater beach. And when you come to your senses and head back inside with an invigorated appetite, you’ll still find water views hard to miss here—whether from the Seaview Bistro & Martini Bar or the Water’s Edge’s main restaurant, where the huge seaward windows are matched only by the enormous, award-winning Sunday brunch.
Hickory Hill Bed & Breakfast, Pomfret
What with the change in weather patterns, it seems to be getting more difficult to experience “deep winter” here in Connecticut. You might have some luck, however, if you head up to the state’s northeast “Quiet Corner” for a stay on Hickory Hill. This B&B’s “Winter Wanderings” package, for instance, includes one or two nights lodging, full breakfast, use of two pairs of snowshoes, a trail pack complete with walking-trail maps, snacks and beverages, and coffee and pastries at nearby Baker’s Dozen in Pomfret Center. They’ll even pay your room- occupancy tax when you book the package.
Rock Hall, Colebrook
If you entertain visions of country living of the very highest order, with a wood-burning fireplace blazing in your room on a cold winter night, then this could be the place for you. Designed in 1912 by renowned residential architect Addison Mizner (most famous for his work in Palm Beach and Boca Raton), Rock Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It sits on a 23-acre estate in one of Connecticut’s least populous regions, up by the Massachusetts border. Rock Hall’s guest rooms (there are only five of them) and public spaces glow with the comfort and luxury of an earlier day, but they come with a very up-to-date rejuvenating spa and wellness services, as well as resort-style amenities. Breakfast and tea are offered. Rock Hall makes a splendid place to overnight if you’re visiting nearby Infinity Hall for a concert.
Inn at Stonington, Stonington Borough
Did you see Great Hope Springs with Meryl Street and Tommy Lee Jones? It may not have been the greatest movie ever, but did you notice the characters wandering down narrow residential lanes, across open spaces, past white-steepled churches and handsome columned public buildings, always, it seemed, with a water view in the distance? It was supposed to be Maine, but it actually was our own ineffable Stonington Borough, right on the southeast corner of Connecticut, adjacent to Rhode Island and the Atlantic Ocean. The many charms of Stonington know no season. In fact, we’ll never forget waking up early one morning years ago in our room at the inn and looking out the window to see, in the pre-dawn darkness, the town’s little fishing fleet headed out to sea in the swirl of a sudden snow squall. You may not be so lucky, but the inn is a terrific place to spend a winter night or two. It’s friendly and the rooms are simply but very handsomely and comfortably appointed. And it’s right in the middle of most of the things you’ll want to see here, and places you’ll want to go.