Cranberry Meadow Farm Inn, Peterborough, NHPhoto Credit : Jumping Rocks Photography
As the leaves turn, we’re celebrating New England’s changing lodging landscape, too. These five inns have turned over a new leaf in the past few years—and if you stay at them all, it will be one epic fall-foliage journey.
Stately trees in fiery fall dress are all that separate this 1886 castle from the sea. Step through the doors and you’ll want to applaud, even if Brett Haynie isn’t singing by the baby grand. His eye for posh, exuberant style and architect owner Will Tims’s desire to preserve this landmark while injecting it with contemporary personality have transformed The Norumbega into a place ready for its next century. Five of the 11 rooms have fireplaces.
The gentleness here exceeds the sum of the parts assembled by innkeepers Mick and Karen Rookwood, with an assist from Mother Nature. Set on 20 acres, with front-door access to mountain biking and hiking trails that plunge into the Mad River Valley’s bright-hued woodlands, this is a place to feel cared for—from sunup’s elaborate, hyperlocal breakfast until bedtime, when you collapse into a feathery cloud.
Chef-owner Carolyn Hough composes multicourse breakfasts like a jazz improvisationalist. The “notes”? All plucked from her garden and nearby farms. Come fall, homemade yogurt and granola might be followed by caramel-glazed apple hand pies and just-laid eggs topped with Swiss chard pesto. You’ll burn calories on trails that begin right from the 83 acres surrounding this exquisitely nurturing inn. Hike to Cranberry Meadow Pond, then on to the summit of Pack Monadnock.
Arriving after dark? You’ll still be dazzled by color. Not the fall foliage—that can wait until morning, when you sit on the reconstructed covered porch with locally roasted coffee and a secret-recipe biscuit (a specialty the café sells out of daily). At night, sapphire-blue spotlights illuminate the waterfall that once powered this 19th-century mill. It’s a white-noise machine now, ensuring sound sleep for those in riverside rooms.
A decade-plus after Yankee named the sophisticated rural town of Kent best for leaf peeping, the Kent Collection’s Garden Cottages, Victorian, and Firefly Inn make this an even more attractive autumn home base. Waterfall and covered bridge photo ops, a scenic stretch of the Appalachian Trail, and the state’s best farm-to-table dining are close at hand, but returning to the spaces co-owner Lulu McPhee has designed, with an eye for both architectural preservation and modern aesthetics, may be your favorite thing of all.