Return to Content

New England's Best Historic Inns

Yankee Plus Dec 2015


New England’s Best Historic Inns
3 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (94% score)
Print Friendly

The Best of the Oldest

Escape to a distant time at one of New England’s historic inns, where a 1700s ambience is preserved with style and comfort.

We traveled many hundreds of miles in our search for the best of New England’s oldest inns and B&Bs—those that still evoke the 18th century but are cushioned in contemporary comforts. The following historic and restful places emerged as our favorites.

These are the moody weeks between foliage color and holiday glitz, a lull best captured with a night or two away. An old inn, one with the patina and the stories that come with age, seems particularly suited to this reflective time. We traveled many hundreds of miles in our search for the best of New England’s oldest inns and B&Bs–those that still evoke the 18th century but are cushioned in contemporary comforts. The following historic and restful places emerged as our favorites.

Thayer House guestroom at the Old Inn on the Green
Photo/Art by Julie Bidwell
Thayer House guest room at the Old Inn on the Green

No. 1
New Marlborough, Massachusetts

Late one afternoon we arrived at The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. This classic 1760s stagecoach inn stands in the southern Berkshires on the far side of a green along Route 57, now a quiet byway but once a bustling road heading west toward New York State. It’s a long, low-slung building faced with columned first- and second-story porches; it’s flanked by a gold-domed meetinghouse and a sprinkling of early homes in matching white clapboard.

We were greeted by delicious aromas and a cheerful staffer who ushered us out the door and across the green to a ground-floor room, furnished with antiques, in the nearby Thayer House, a vintage 1820s home. Would we like our hearth lit? Of course.

We sank into the wing chairs on either side of the shallow Rumford fireplace. The logs blazed, then settled into shifting patterns. Finally we stirred as far as the sitting room across the hall and checked out our bathroom with its full-headed shower and a separate Jacuzzi; also robes and bath salts. Ah yes …

By 6:30, one of the inn’s three dining rooms had already filled; patrons were taking advantage of acclaimed chef/owner Peter Platt’s reasonably priced midweek menu. The low-ceilinged dining rooms were lit by candles that blazed in iron chandeliers as well as on tables. Roasted-red-pepper soup came studded with tempura shrimp and a tender veal scaloppine, with seasonal veggies polenta. A series of amuse-bouches included risotto with onions and mushrooms and a lobster pate.

“It’s like unpacking a Christmas stocking,” my companion observed. “You have no idea what will come next, even with what’s on the menu.”

Next morning, after a breakfast of French-press coffee, juice, and the flakiest, most buttery of fresh croissants, we looked into the five light-filled upstairs rooms, all successfully preserving a 1700s feel–with style and comfort.

No. 2
Newport, Rhode Island

What you don’t expect to find in 1760s New England is an inn that looks as though it could be in London. The Francis Malbone House, in Newport, Rhode Island, is a three-story brick Georgian mansion, said to be designed by famed Colonial architect Peter Harrison. Colonel Malbone was a shipping merchant during Newport’s heyday of seafaring glory, an era in which its gentry wore powdered wigs and high-heeled, gold-buckled shoes. During the Revolution, the British occupied Newport, and, so the story goes, an English officer fell in love with Colonel Malbone’s daughter Peggy, risking capture to visit her. After the war they married and returned to England. Newport, however, never regained its prominence, luckily for the preservation of its old port area. Meticulously restored in the 1960s, the original mansion has acquired additions and an adjacent property in the years since, and is now a 20-room inn.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Special 2 for 1 Holiday Sale

Send a one-year gift subscription of Yankee Magazine for only $17.99 and give a 2nd one-year gift subscription absolutely FREE. Plus, we will send you a FREE 2016 Scenes of New England Calendar (a $9.95 value)!


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

We reserve the right to remove or edit comments that are offensive or disrespectful to our readers and/or writers, cannot be verified, lack clarity, or contain profanity. Your comments may be republished by Yankee Magazine across multiple platforms.

Register Sign In

©2015, Yankee Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Yankee Publishing Inc., | P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444 | (603) 563-8111

< Prev

Some to Grow On

A few of our favorite makers of locally crafted toys around New England ... Jim Jefferson ...

Related Articles

Next >

Best Historic Inn Criteria

How did we choose our "bests" from all of the notable 18th-century lodgings in New ...

Related Articles