August 2018

Travel to another era: the grand hotels of New Hampshire’s White Mountains

Garnet Hill’s Headquarters are rooted in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, located a quick and scenic drive from two of the state’s grand resort hotels: Omni Mount Washington Resort and Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.

There were more than 20 grand resort hotels in the region around the turn of the last century. Today, only two remain. Rather than existing as relics to be treated like museums, these lively grands beckon with special stays for couples, friends, and families, with historic details, modern comforts, and all manner of indoor and outdoor adventures. All set in the mountains, with some of the most thrilling views you’ll find anywhere.

The packing list for your grand getaway depends on the season, and may include the full spectrum of women’s fashion: a swimsuit and ski parka, an elegant dress and workout wear, a cashmere wrap and slippers. Because here, unlike cookie-cutter hotels designed chiefly for sleep, the goal is to awaken the spirit with generous doses of fresh mountain air, easy access to pampering pursuits, and a call sheet of activities that changes daily. There’s enough going on site to keep anyone busy days and evenings, axe-throwing to star-gazing.

The two grands may share a similar geographic location (about two-and-a-half hours north of Boston and just 17 miles apart), but they’re hardly two of a kind. Join us on a grand tour of our vacation-worthy neighbors:

Omni Mount Washington Resort

Bretton Woods Village in the town of Carroll, New HampshireHotels in Northern New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington Resort

Set at the end of a long driveway, with Mount Washington as a 6,288-foot backdrop, this grand delivers an unparalleled first impression. It is the larger of the two hotels. Built between 1900 and 1902 by a troop of 250 Italian craftsman, it’s a masterwork of Spanish Renaissance architecture, a vision in white with a signature red roof and manicured grounds, surrounded by nearly 800,000 acres of White Mountains National Forest. Though the resort is so large it has its own zip code, it doesn’t feel outsized or overwhelming; instead, it maintains the friendly ease of a New England cottage, albeit an expansive one with elegant touches like crystal chandeliers and Tiffany glass.

Cross Country Skiing in Northern New HampshireAt this year-round destination, you’ll stay as busy as you desire thanks to an indoor pool and four-season heated outdoor pool, 25,000-square-foot nature-inspired spa, 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course, zip lining, Nordic and alpine skiing, horseback riding, fly-fishing, history tours, even making s’mores. Of course, with the generous colonnaded veranda lined with comfy seating, you should set aside time each day to relax and savor the view, coffee or cocktail in hand.

There’s just as much variety in accommodations, with 200 rooms and suites available, like a cozy European Room, and the Luxury Family Suite with three bedrooms, two baths, and a living room with gas fireplace. The choices continue at mealtimes, including a casual pub and steakhouse, small-bites bar, and the graceful Main Dining Room serving the Art of Breakfast daily as well as a sophisticated dinner with live musical accompaniment. Don’t miss The Cave, a Prohibition-style speakeasy, for after-dessert revelry.


Prime location: The resort bestows superb views of the Presidential Range, a notable mountain range with 13 peaks, most above 4,000 feet and many named after U.S. presidents, including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast.

Girl power: Affluent New Hampshire local, Joseph Stickney, built the resort; he died less than two years after it opened, and left it in the capable hands of his second wife, the venerable and always-well-dressed Carolyn. Stay in the Princess Carolyn Room and sleep in her original four-poster bed.

Thrill the kids: After receiving a backpack filled with goodies at check-in, kids can participate in all kinds of pint-sized amusement, from seasonal activities (like star-gazing in summer) to pampering spa treatments, learning-based events in the counselor-led Activity Room, and high-energy fun in the arcade.

Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa

Whitefield, New HampshireHotels in Northern New Hampshire: Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa

In 1865, two travelers headed to Boston from Montreal were in need of a place to stay after their stagecoach overturned. They approached a nearby farmhouse where the owners, William and Mary Jane Dodge, took them in for the night. Upon waking to jaw-dropping views of 57 mountain peaks (as well as a hearty breakfast), the travelers decided Boston could wait and prolonged their stay one week. The Dodge family decided hospitality was a better living for them than farming, and opened an inn one year later.

In the decades since, the farmhouse has been replaced by the glorious yellow grand that greets guests today, instantly identifiable by an Italian Revival-style tower that’s visible from miles away. Though times have changed, a stay here is still built upon generous hospitality, 360-degree vistas, and good food (with three meals served daily), complemented by exceptional accommodations, amenities, and activities.

Hotels in Northern New Hampshire: Porch on the Mountain View Grand Resort and SpaTake your pick of the 141 guest rooms and suites, including a spacious Vista Studio and a Summit Suite with balcony. Pamper yourself at the Tower Spa, get to know a farmer and a few farm animals at the onsite Mountain View Farm, and explore seasonal adventures like golfing and mountain biking in summer, dog-sledding and snowshoeing in winter. Resort activities that change daily, and include needle-felting and BINGO. Not to be missed: reading a book, having a chat, or playing board games in a comfy chair in one of the many public rooms or, preferably, on the covered porch out front, dazzled by the view.

Hotels in Northern New Hampshire: Fall Foliage at the Mountain View Grand Resort and SpaFUN FACTS: MOUNTAIN VIEW GRAND RESORT & SPA

A+ gym: Unlike many ho-hum hotel gyms, this state-of-the-art health and wellness center is an open, airy space with Technogym cardio equipment and weight-training machines, arguably the best in the biz.

Paul Bunyan-approved: Every morning of the year, in any kind of weather except thunderstorms with lightning, you can try your hand at regulation axe-throwing, a seriously fun and slightly scary activity.Hotels in Northern New Hampshire: Axe-Throwing at the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa

Thrill the kids: In addition to a camp for kids, there are plenty of family-friendly amenities and activities, like an in-house movie theater and an indoor pool surrounded by a White Mountains mural.

Early on, privileged folks from Boston and Montreal would hop a train to spend an entire summer enjoying healthy pursuits in the hospitable White Mountains. Today, you might arrive by car for a shorter stay, but the experience is just as memorable — and revitalizing. And, it’s worth noting, a visit to either grand puts you within an easy drive of Garnet Hill’s Firsts and Seconds Store. We hope to see you soon.

Kristyn Lak Miller is a freelance Garnet Hill writer based in Portsmouth, NH; she recently survived her first axe-throwing competition at the Mountain View Grand, and her kids loved everything about their summer stay at Omni Mount Washington Resort, especially the year-round outdoor pool — they can’t wait to return to swim outside on a cold winter day (Mom might opt for a spa day instead).Hotels in Northern New Hampshire: Omni Mount Washington Resort

Photos courtesy of Omni Mount Washington Resort, Mountain View Grand Resort, and Kristyn Lak Miller.


One response to “Travel to another era: the grand hotels of New Hampshire’s White Mountains”

  1. Anna Borucinski says:

    Such an excellent article. So well-written. Always enjoy reading this author’s articles. The words are picturesque. .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *