Amazing hospitality, I’ve discovered, truly starts from the very top- so it’s no surprise that the Windham Hill Inn, with sophisticated veteran Katja Matthews at the helm, is one of the most luxurious, pampering and elegant destinations in the Northeast. As the innkeeper, Matthews oversees everything from the day to day operations to the nightly dinner menus to the small romantic decorations that adorn the 21 guest rooms and suites. Her thoughtfulness, attention to detail and natural warmth creates a personal and intimate experience for every guest. Matthews is so memorable, in fact, that many visitors who review the property make a special point of calling out her graciousness in their comments. It is certainly no surprise that under Matthew’s leadership, the Windham Hill Inn joined the ultra prestigious Relais & Chateaux association in 2009. As someone with the goal of visiting every Relais & Chateaux property in the world (they are certainly some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen), I made a point to check into the Windham Hill Inn for a night last December.
Situated in West Townshend, Vermont, Windham Hill Inn is roughly at the midpoint between New York City and Burlington, VT- about a three and half hour drive from each city- making it ideal for a weekend getaway or a relaxing apres ski retreat. The inn is set at the end of a long country road, amidst 160 acres of rolling hills in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There is a unique sense of tranquility there- a feeling of serenity that washes over you as you pull up in front of the barn. I still remember that moment distinctly- how I took a few extra seconds to inhale the crisp air and look over the landscape.
The closest big town is only a short drive away- and those seeking theater, art, music and the like will find it easy to get to Brattleboro. But chances are, once you settle in at the Windhall Hill Inn, you’ll really have no desire to leave the property at all. It’s an incredibly romantic space. In fact, I think that doing nothing at all- just strolling along the river, sitting in front of the fireplace, soaking in the bathtub, or stargazing with a mug of hot cider with your beloved- is one of the best thing you could do. It’s amazing how easy it is to feel rejuvenated and relaxed while you’re there.
The Entrance to the Main House
The rooms are really the star attractions at the Windham Hill Inn. Having taken a tour of almost every room, I can confidently say that there is no such thing as a “bad” room on the entire property. Most of the traditional rooms and some suites are located in the main house, with large windows overlooking the hills and fitted with soaking tubs, showers, Molton Brown products, queen or king size beds, plush chairs and luxury amenities. Each room is tastefully decorated in a welcoming rustic chic style- exactly how I’d imagine my fantasy country home to be. Also in the main house are the property’s restaurant, bar, lounges, and gift shop.
The loft suites, the creme de la creme of all the rooms, and the spa are located in the White Barn, which is just down the driveway from the Main House. The one room spa is open by request only and the entire facilities are dedicated to private, individualized pampering. The barn is truly one of the coolest spaces that I’ve ever visited- literally an old barn that was renovated to house three stories of luxury suites and lofts. I stayed in the Meadowlook Loft Suite on the third floor of the barn. This generous suite (pictured above) is one of the most popular rooms at the inn, offers wraparound views of the entire property, a private entrance and deck, king size handcrafted canopy bed, a gas hearth, ample sitting and working space, and an over-sized bathroom. But my favorite feature of the room- and maybe of the entire property- is the large Kohler soaking tub strategically situated under a low sky light – absolutely perfect for stargazing on a winter’s night. As the many testimonials in the in-room guestbook show- spend a night in the Meadowlook Suite with your honey and it’s impossible not to fall in love again with life and with each other!
Soaking tub in the Meadowlook Loft Suite
Entrance to the White Barn
Private cupola in the Marion Goodfellow Loft Suite
The restaurant at the Windham Hill Inn is acclaimed as one of Vermont’s finest dining destinations. I was there on a random mid week night, but while the inn was not at full occupancy, the restaurant was bustling with locals. The ambiance is elegant but cozy and laid back. Unlike at New York fine dining institutions, the Windham Hill Inn is not a place for a scene- but wholly dedicated to serving good food and warm hospitality. The entire experience almost feels like dining at your grandmother’s – coats are hung in a hallway closet, and the bar is set up just outside the dining room with comfortable couches, pillows and throws that really make you feel as if you were at home.
The seasonal menus feature fresh meats, fishes, and local herbs and produce. Dinner is served a la carte or as a six course chef’s tasting menu and includes uniquely local meats such as Vermont pheasant, quail, rabbit and venison. It’s a game lover’s delight! Of course, as the sister property to Maine’s White Barn Inn, the menu also features a selection of seafood including Kennebunkoport Clam Chowder and Maine lobster. The restaurant also houses an extensive collection of wines and presents a popular Wine Dinner series throughout the year.
Guests at the inn enjoy a complimentary three course breakfast for every night they are checked in. In addition to a continental buffet, guests can also enjoy a warm country breakfast off the a la menu.
Ever since I visited the Windham Hill Inn, I’ve recommended it to every one I know. It’s so full of character and romantic in such a genuine way that is difficult to come by in the age of almost cookie-cutter luxury hospitality. It’s an obvious destination for the spring, summer and fall but I would even highly recommend visiting in the winter. The pure, quiet peacefulness of Windham Hill Inn will transform how you look at the season. Just be sure to book your room months in advance as this still-hidden gem is quickly becoming many couple’s favorite romantic retreat!