This is the time of year when the winter blahs grab hold and everyone needs a change. That change of pace is waiting at Snowvillage Inn in Eaton Center, New Hampshire.
A romantic inn in the Whit Mountains
This inn is everything one could ask in a country inn. Sitting high on a hillside, the inn has outstanding views of the White Mountains, peak after peak against a blue sky where clouds hang like great mounds of marshmallow. The view from the Frost Room, number 14, makes it my pick for best room with a view in New Hampshire. A whole wall of windows insures that not a single part of this spectacular view is lost.
But there is a lot more than the view. Snowvillage Inn is run by two of the best innkeepers in the business. They have the magical quality of not being intrusive but also being there when you need something. Kevin Flynn owned the inn from 1994 until he sold it in 2004. He and Jennifer Kovach bought it back in late 2012 and restored it to its peak of hospitality. They understand what hospitality is about, from the warmth of their personal service to the beauty of the décor.
The true Inn experience
Each room is individually decorated and distinct from the others, whether in the main inn or the adjacent buildings, the Chimney House and the Carriage House. The four Queen rooms in the Chimney house have gas fireplaces and the use of a big common room. The Carriage House, in a completely renovated barn, exudes an aurora of relaxation with knotty pine walls, a balcony with a library and its own cozy common room for curling up with a good book
Good books are found throughout the inn: in each room, and in the main house’s extensive library, with a broad range of titles. This first-floor parlor is well furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas to curl up in. In front of the massive fireplace, always kept going at this time of year, there are even more places to settle in for a romantic glass of wine in the evening, or for a chat with new friends.
The inn also has its own lounge where Kevin serves a glass of wine or a cocktail to guests before dinner and throughout the evening. When I pulled in after a long drive in a snowstorm, Jen was glad to revive my spirits with a warming glass of brandy. The lounge is handy to the dining room, an experience no one will want to miss.
The finest in New England dining
The dining room at Snowvillage Inn is securely in the top range of dining places in New England. When the Inn reopened, Kevin and Jen found Brian Anderson, already well known in Maine foodie circles. Brian had an extensive history as a chef in the Rangeley area, having been chef at Loon Lodge Inn and at the Rangeley Inn as well as having operated his own restaurant, Porter House, in Eustis until it was destroyed by fire.
Brian approaches dining with a fresh, open mind and a passion for using locally produced ingredients to whenever possible. The night I was there I chose a triplet of game with sausages of wild boar and venison and a breast of duck that was perfectly prepared. It was served with a timbale of mixed wild rice and with local beets and green beans. Options my companions chose were perfectly-seared Ahi Tuna and an aromatic dish of pork braised for hours in apple cider and apples, served with cinnamon mashed squash.
Settling in at Snowvillage Inn
While all the modern conveniences are there, including Wi-Fi in the main inn, you will not find TVs in the rooms nor in the sitting rooms. Instead, guests come here to reconnect with family and friends, to spend time with people they love, to relax with a good book in front of the fire.
The inn is also great as a base for exploring the surrounding White Mountains. It is only 10 miles to North Conway, with its discount mall shopping and Main Street shops. Poke around in Zeb’s Country Store for New Hampshire and New England-made goods, and in the old Five and Ten Cent Store -- it’s on the National Register. Don’t miss lunch at The Flatbread Company, located in the Eastern Slope Inn, and visit the Weather Discovery Center of the Mount Washington Observatory, right across Main Street.
Getting to Snow Village
It will take about two and half hours to get to Snowvillage Inn from Boston. Take Route 1 across the Tobin Bridge to I-95 North, following it to exit 4 at Portsmouth, then take Route 16 (which begins as the Spaulding Turnpike) north about 55 miles. Watch for Route 25 east and follow it 5.5 miles to Route 153. Go left and in about 10 miles you will drive alongside Chrystal Lake. Look for Brownfield Road on the right and take it a mile to Stewart Road, again on the right, where you’ll see the sign for Snowvillage Inn, half a mile up the hill on the right.