Try A B&B For Some Staycation R&R
Story and photos by Stacy Milbouer / Fiddlehead Contributing EditorEditor's Note: While there are wonderful inns and hotels in New Hampshire, this article just focuses on lodgings that are listed as bed and breakfast or inn/bed and breakfast establishments.
At Fiddlehead we’re all about local, so why would we drag our sweetie halfway across the country for a Valentine’s Day getaway, or for that matter travel far for our own mid-winter getaway? We’re thinking staycation. And we’re thinking bed and breakfast, the quiet cousins of inns and hotels.
If your cup of tea is, well, tea, check out SereniTea Bed & Breakfast and Tea Room in old Wilton Center, a new addition to the state’s ample offerings of these cozy, historic lodgings. The original Federal-style structure on the property was built in the late 1700s and was enlarged to its present Adirondack cottage-style in the 1870s.
The 18-acre property and carriage house changed hands several times since then. Pam and Peter Clemens purchased it two years ago and painstakingly restored and renovated the private residence to the B&B and tea room of their dreams.
“It was love at first sight,” said Pam of when she first visited the property.
Peter still works as a director of engineering for a high-tech company as well as serving, as his wife says, as “the jack-of-all-trades” for the bed and breakfast. Pamela had careers in high-end interior design and travelled the world as a corporate events planner, but she loves staying put in Wilton making SereniTea not only her cozy home, but also a welcoming destination for those who travel near and far.
One of those travellers, Lauren Webb, and her family were visiting recently from Virginia. The clan was gathered around a lace-draped dining table with delicate china, fresh flowers, steaming teapots and a tiered tower of maple scones, clotted cream, honeyed blue cheese tea sandwiches, spinach and cheddar tarts, eggnog bread pudding, mini blueberry pies, snowflake sugar mints and other confections - all homemade by Pam.
Nearby was a lit fireplace and little corners set up like vignettes of coziness, with, comfortable chairs, a piano and even vintage magazines.
“We’ve had the most amazing time here,” said Webb. “My husband actually called it home this morning. Pam surprised him yesterday with hot bowl of broccoli cheddar soup she brought to him in our room. He said it was life-changing.”
Webb takes a moment to bite into a lavender blueberry scone before adding, “We’ve already booked for next year. I travel all over the world for my job and stay in big hotels and all kinds of lodgings, but this is something special.”
In many ways the guest rooms, which are named after teas — oolong, Earl Grey and chamomile — are as well-appointed as the high tea and all its accoutrements. Pam’s collection of vintage clothes and accessories hang from the doors, light pours through the windows, puffy and pastel comforters cover four-poster beds and a common room features lush red sofas, book-filled shelves and Victorian doll house.
In warmer weather guests are invited to sit on the wraparound porch, swim in the outdoor pool or take a hike with one of Pam’s vintage-inspired picnic baskets packed with goodies from her kitchen.
SereniTea is offering a special Valentine’s Day package, including a cheeseboard and chocolate-dipped strawberries in your room on arrival and a five-course dinner. Check out sereniteabedandbreakfast.com for details.
Here are some other possibilities. There is no shortage of delightful B&Bs in New Hampshire with rich, historical provenances:
Around the Corner B&B in Exeter is situated smack in the middle of the town’s historic district, in a nearly 90-year-old elegant Colonial-style home decorated in antiques, paintings and objects d’art. Each guest room features artwork and books about the artist who created them.
If history is part of your local getaway, head to the Nutmeg Inn B&B in Meredith, housed in a location older than America itself and only five minutes from downtown and Lake Winnipesaukee. It started in 1763 as the Eliphalet Rawlings Homestead and over the centuries has been a working farm, coach inn and tavern, a waypoint for runaway slaves through the underground railway, a Girl Scout camp and boarding school. But now it’s an historic bed and breakfast with all the charm of the past and comforts of contemporary life.
Meredith Inn B&B is a pink, century-old Victorian manse with seven rooms and a short walk from the shopping and restaurants of Meredith Village on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Tuckernuck Inn and Bed and Breakfast is also in Meredith and is just a short walk to the shores of Winnipesaukee.
Riverland on the Merrimack is a bed and breakfast within an organic farm, surrounded by conservation land on the Merrimack River on the Concord-Canterbury line.
Canterbury Center B&B is pet-friendly and has three antique-filled rooms in an 18th-century house in the center of town. It’s a close drive to Canterbury Shaker Village, which inspires its philosophy of “a simple, quiet, restful environment … where history meets hospitality.”
Speaking of Shakers, the historic Shaker Farm B&B in Enfield has six rooms and a library.
Stillmeadow B&B in Hampstead has a history just made for Valentine’s Day. It was built in 1850 by businessman John Dana Ordway as a honeymoon gift for his wife, Marie-Louise Kent. Margaret Mitchell, a fellow of the British Institute of Innkeeping, operates it with a Scottish tilt.
Little River B&B in Peterborough has four rooms in a 19th-century mansion on the Nubanusit River. The building once served as a dormitory for the male residents at the MacDowell Colony. It has a living room with a fireplace, and is about a one-mile stroll to the restaurants and antique shops of downtown Peterborough.
The Ash Street Inn offers an urban getaway in downtown Manchester. There are five rooms in the 19th-century Victorian home, only a short walk from the Currier Museum.
Tucked among the rolling corn fields and farm stands of Hollis is the Timber Post B&B, an 18th-century mansion with hand-hewn beams and showcase gardens. The largest of its four rooms has a fireplace.
Henniker House B&B is on the scenic Currier and Ives Highway and is particularly popular with skiers who savor schussing at nearby Pat’s Peak. It’s situated in a high-style Victorian home built by a local blacksmith in 1859 with a history of serving as a birthing hospital, day care, private home and rooming house before it was a bed and breakfast.