When you first step from the courtyard into the historic main house of Twin Farms, you begin to understand the allure of this intimate, and much-lauded, Vermont hotel. With its vaulted, beamed ceilings, walls of well-thumbed books, fascinating artwork and hand-picked antiques, the place was clearly once a beloved private home—the former estate, as it happens, of Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis and his wife, journalist Dorothy Thompson, who lived there in the 1920s. Today, the 18th-century main house, where guests take their cocktails and meals, is still the heart of the 300-acre property, but the accommodations have expanded to encompass four rooms, six suites and ten cottages. Out back, a garden tall with lemon-yellow hollyhocks, purple thistles, white hydrangeas, blue salvia and pink flox hugs the walls of a curved stone terrace. Beyond, the vast lawn spills towards a covered bridge over a pond filled with water lilies and lined with cattails. A dirt road winds off from the main courtyard through the woods to the secluded guest cottages, each spacious (most are 1,000 square feet or more), unique and appointed with stylish furniture, king-size feather beds and bathrooms equipped with big soaking tubs. Every room has a distinctive aesthetic and everything feels carefully thought-through, down to the already-set fire, just waiting for a match.
Throughout the property, there’s a marvelous sense of laid-back luxury. You may spend your entire stay dressed in shorts or khakis, yet every detail of the resort is exceptional, from the food to the solicitous staff to the museum-quality art, including works by Milton Avery, Jasper Johns, Bernice Abbott, Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein. (The Twigg-Smith family, who bought the estate in the 1970s and opened it as a five-room hotel in 1993, has a serious art collection. Today, they own the property with several partners.) The price is all-inclusive, so there are no chits to sign, no tips to dispense.
My husband and I stayed in the Barn, a charming Scandinavian-style cottage with a soaring post-and-beam gambrel ceiling, bleached-wood walls and a huge fireplace made of local stone. Because it was Family Week, we brought our two young sons; normally, children under eighteen are not permitted. [To read more about Family Week, click here.] In the mornings, we ate breakfast at its country-style table in the living room, looking through fourteen-foot-high windows onto a meadow.
Twin Farms is known for its exquisite cuisine, prepared by chef Ted Ask and served in the rustic, cozy dining room of the main house (or in your room, upon request). Breakfast is made to order, but lunch and dinner have set menus that change daily. We particularly enjoyed the menu our first night: yellowtail sashimi with mango-cilantro relish; an arugula and radicchio salad with oranges, olives and ricotta salata; roasted chicken served over lentils, oyster mushrooms and braised endive; and a chocolate soufflé with crème Anglaise.
For those who are so inclined, there are spa treatments available. We, however, devoted our days to canoeing around Copper Pond and wandering the crisscrossing trails that wound from our cabin down through forests and fields—a perfect sojourn in the Vermont countryside. Rooms from $1,100; cabins from $1,750.
When to Go: I loved the abundant wildflowers that were in bloom in August, but it’s hard to top New England in early October, when the fall leaves are at their peak. Winter is also popular, especially the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The resort has its own (small) ski slope and a pond for ice skating. Be warned: Twin Farms tends to be booked months in advance, so reserve early.
Getting There: Barnard is located in central Vermont, just north of Woodstock. It’s a drive of five hours from New York, three from Boston. The closest airports are Lebanon, NH (forty minutes away) and Burlington, VT (seventy-five minutes away).
Who Should Go: People who love the outdoors, great food and a quiet, unpretentious atmosphere. The other guests, several of them repeat customers, were friendly and down-to-earth.
Who Should Not Go: Those looking for glamour, nightlife, shopping, etc.
Room to Get: The cottages are wonderful, from the fanciful, Moroccan-themed Meadow to the serene Barn. If you are traveling with friends or family, consider taking over the two-suite Lodge or booking the four suites in the Farmhouse at Copper Hill, which share a common living area.
Celebrations: Twin Farms is ideal for house parties. You can rent the entire property (which sleeps forty) for $38,000 a night.
What to Bring: Books to read and movies to watch in your room (or you can peruse the resort’s interesting selection of DVDs). Attire is casual, even at dinner.
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