The Omni Mount Washington Resort | A Winter Weekend Away
Built in the shadow of Mount Washington in 1902, the Omni Mount Washington Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire offers cozy luxury, outdoor fun, and stunning mountain views. Find out why this grand historic spot is well worth a winter visit. “’What are you going up there for this time of year?” That […]
Photo Credit : Courtesy Omni Mount Washington Resort
Built in the shadow of Mount Washington in 1902, the Omni Mount Washington Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire offers cozy luxury, outdoor fun, and stunning mountain views. Find out why this grand historic spot is well worth a winter visit.
“’What are you going up there for this time of year?”
That pretty much described the line of questioning when I told friends my wife Grace and I were going to the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, for a late November weekend getaway.
The leaves were gone, the snow hadn’t really arrived and so we were going to do…what exactly?
Well, nothing. That was sort of the point. It seemed like the ultimate shoulder season. The period in between all those in between stretches. The mountains weren’t ready for skiers. The hiking trails were only sort of open, and the autumn colors had long since faded. It wasn’t fall. It wasn’t winter. It was, well, late November.
All of which sounded perfect. It meant no agendas. No to-do lists. No real commitments. Just a grand hotel, a couple of books, a few good meals, and some selective brisk walks.
Upon check-in we were posed with an important question by the gentlemen at the front desk: “Would you prefer a room with a view of the mountain or something that shows the sunset?”
I looked at Grace and shrugged my shoulders. “How can we lose?” I said.
The mountain of course isn’t just any old mountain. It’s Mount Washington, the mountain in the Northeast, all 6,288 feet of it.
I deferred to my wife on the question about the views. She opted for the sunset. Not my choice, but who could really argue?
Of course, it wasn’t just the views outside the room that were amazing. The view of our room was pretty nice, too. Even the bathroom was practically postcard worthy.
But really, nearly every square inch of the hotel offers some kind of prize-winning view. What you don’t get from your bedroom you get from the lobby. From the staircase. From the breakfast table. You look out and you look up to some snow-capped painting just a bit in the distance.
Really, our purpose on this weekend was to slow down. Unplug. Get away from our energetic four-year-old son. (Did I really write that?) The Mount Washington is perfect for that. I’m pretty sure it offers more seating per capita than any place on earth.
In many ways the Mount Washington still exudes that regal feel, the same one that characterized the place when a rich coal broker named Joseph Stickney sunk $1.7 million of his own money to build this grand resort in the shadow of Mount Washington in 1902. The big hall, the attentive service, and I’m sure, all that seating, were features of the place.
But there have been some welcome changes, too. The hotel began welcoming guests for winter in 1999, undergoing a major facelift before the doors opened. In recent years, the National Historic Landmark (it was put on the list in 1986), has undergone extensive expansions. A 25,000-square foot spa. Another 25,000-square foot conference center. On and on the building goes. You could walk for days, it seems, and still not see it all.
But of course, being in the Whites, even in early winter, you want to be outside. The cross country ski trails had just opened, but many of the paths were also available to walkers and hikers.
Now, I admit we didn’t stay at the hotel for the entire weekend. On Saturday evening we headed east on Route 302 to the Notchland Inn, a 13-room cozy B&B located in New Hampshire’s smallest town: Hart’s Location, population 41. In this town, everyone does a little bit of everything. A selectman may serve you dinner. The tax collector may end up washing your dishes, or tidying up your room.
Dinner at the Notchland is a single-seating affair. The menu is five courses and on the night we visited we filled up on Portuguese kale soup, crab cakes, roasted chicken breast, salad and lemon brûlée. If we’d had room for more dessert, we would have gladly taken seconds or maybe thirds. At the Notchland, you see, guests are offered seconds every night of the week. “We keep going until we run out or you give up.”
After a second cup coffee we decided to wave the white flag.
Afterwards we drove home under starlit sky, the ground covered in a few inches of freshly fallen snow. Winter was imminent. A new season of possibilities and things to do. But for this one fleeting moment, our only job was to get back to our room, put up our feet, and enjoy the feeling of living grand in one of the country’s finest hotels.