New England’s Perfect Inn?

The Rabbit Hill Inn; there's been lodging in this location since the 1800s, when the junction was a key way-station between Boston and Montreal, and Montreal and Portland.

The Rabbit Hill Inn; there’s been lodging in this location since the 1800s, when the junction was a key way-station between Boston and Montreal, and Montreal and Portland.

I’ve always been a hoarder. Easter candy was saved until Halloween; Halloween candy preserved until Easter. So when my parents gave us a gift certificate for the Rabbit Hill Inn for my 30th birthday, of course I saved it until my 31st. But it was worth the wait; it made the perfect getaway for an lazy long weekend away from Boston, and an ideal way to spend a low-key birthday.

An easy cruise about two and a half hours up 93, the inn is one of the uniformly white clapboard houses in quiet Lower Waterford, Vermont, at the gateway to the Northeast Kingdom. The service was without parallel; every whim (bucket of ice and two champagne flutes? coming right up!) was catered to. In fact, the staff’s attitude was so friendly and welcoming, it took us a while to get used to it; no one is this nice anymore. Except maybe the people who answer the phone at Zappos.

Admittedly, we came to this weekend with wildly different expectations: I was expecting to sit by the fire, read books, solve crosswords, and maybe, if I felt like exerting myself, play a game or two of Scrabble. And indeed, we did all those things. But Ben’s plan was more ambitious: Antiquing! Exploring! Music! Food! We did some of those things. But even though the scenic drive around Lake Willoughby was striking — it’s more like a Norwegian fjord or a Scottish loch than something you’re used to seeing in New England — if I had it to do over again, I’d just stick close to home.

The exotic Lake Willoughby.

The exotic Lake Willoughby.

If you must leave the inn, the quaint towns of St. Johnsbury, VT and Littleton, NH are both nearby. And while we were there in the quiet shoulder season — something I definitely recommend — in summer and winter you’re not far from some serious mountains, whether hiking or skiing is your preference. Once you’ve spent a day or two lazing around doing jigsaw puzzles in the living room, drinking Talisker at the inn’s Snooty Fox Pub, and stuffing yourself full of delicious country breakfasts and big-city caliber gourmet dinners, you might think an invigorating climb up all 5,249 feet of Mt. Lafayette (30 minutes south) sounds pretty good. And if for some reason you get tired of breakfast at the inn, the awesome Polly’s Pancake Parlor is just 20 minutes away. (A tip: call ahead to put your names on the list in advance. There’s nearly always a wait.)

A quick word about the inn’s restaurant: it’s not the usual heavy, overpriced, salty old-person fare you get at most inns. They do tend to push early dinners (and the Snooty Fox shuts down around 9 pm), but the idea is that you eat well, eat early, and go to bed. The food, though, is fantastic — well-executed modern dishes with portions that will leave you satisfied, but not stuffed.

Of course, it’s not cheap; but you get what you pay for. (Or in our case, what my parents paid for. Thanks Mom and Dad!) While some (ahem, Ben) may ask why you’d want to pay a bunch of money to go somewhere and do nothing, my attitude was a little more OMG I GET TO SIT AROUND AND DO NOTHING. No computer, no cooking, no dishes, no cleaning, no having to even boil your own water for tea — yeah, I’d pay for that.

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