As always, reliving some of our memories from last year’s trips proves to be an enjoyable experience – it’s one of the reasons we created Map & Menu. To see other years highlights, check our ‘best of‘ tag!
Michael: Clean and minimal wins almost every time with me, so Provincetown’s Eben House is an easy pick. Continuing where their sister property, the Salt House Inn, stops off, the stylish details, like the art, lighting, and subtle pops of color, are what set Eben House apart from so many other properties.
Meredith: It’s so tempting for me to chime in with Michael and say the Eben House for this one, but I couldn’t help but go a bit crazy over all of the pink at the Quirk Hotel (post coming soon) in Richmond. Pink as a main color scheme is such a huge departure from our own decorating style, which is maybe why I’m drawn to it. The entire design scheme is so well-executed at the Quirk, I think a stay there would convince most any pink naysayer to change their tune.
Michael & Meredith: It’s hard for us to ignore Vermont when we think of dog-friendly, and the Pitcher Inn is a glowing example of this. A short hop from any number of trails in the Mad River Valley, the inn provided plenty of places for us to explore. It’s hard to imagine a staff that could be more happy to see Orvis – every time we made our way through the inn, it felt as though we were a celebrity’s entourage.
While the Pitcher Inn was our favorite, we both think that Boston’s Liberty Hotel is also worth a mention. Next door to the Charles river esplanade paths, the ability for Orvis to join us for drinks in main room, and the somewhat surprising dog-friendliness of Boston in general, our trip to the Liberty turned out to be an unexpected highlight for all three of us.
Michael: While sitting by the pool, sipping a rum punch, with the view of Nevis peak behind the centuries-old sugar mill, it’s hard to imagine a better location than Montpelier Plantation.
Meredith: The charming town of Woodstock, Vermont is one of my favorite places for a stroll with Michael and Orvis, so the fact that the Woodstock Inn is located right across from the town green – and just steps away from the trailhead of Mt. Tom – is my idea of perfect.
Michael: The Pitcher Inn’s full seated breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon, seated by the big sunny windows was the perfect way to start each of our mornings in Vermont. I wonder if I can convince Meredith to make farmhouse breakfasts part of our daily routine…
Meredith: Kevin & David of Salt Hotels make breakfast at any of their beautiful properties a meal to truly savor. While the spread is almost too lovely to eat, you’ll want to take your time as you work through the thoughtful offerings like the Banana Crumb Coffee Cake or the Coconut Chia Pudding.
Michael & Meredith: Not only does The 404 top our list of hotel restaurants, the meal we had there was easily one of the year’s best in general. Southern classics, a fantastic bar, and a friendly staff all add up to a great meal. I’ll probably never stop craving the skillet cornbread with that decadent sorghum butter.
Michael: Crisp white tile and marble, with pops of color and brass made the bathrooms at The 404 Hotel some of the most stylish we stayed in this year.
Meredith: I loved how soothing and understated our bathroom was at the Quirk. It’s a design that feels very current and timeless at the same time.
Michael: It’s hard to beat a private beach when discussing hotel amenities, so I think I’ll pick Montpelier here. On our last visit, we never strayed far enough from the pool to make it down to the ocean, but on this trip, we made the sun, sand, and ocean a priority
Meredith: I was a tiny bit obsessed with the keyless entry at The 404 Hotel. Not having to rummage through my purse to find a key was, in a sense, quite liberating. Coming and going was easy and helped keep us in that vacation state of mind we’re always after while traveling.
Interaction with Hotel Staff
Michael and Meredith: This one was tough. Ari Sadri, the general manager of the Pitcher Inn, could be one of the friendliest and most accommodating people Meredith or I have ever met, and it’s clear that his warm personality has rubbed off on the rest of the inn’s staff. Meredith and I felt like we were amongst family while we stayed there, and judging by other reviews we’ve read about the property, we’re far from the only ones who feel this way.
While the Pitcher Inn wins in this category for first time visits, it’s hard to ignore how many employees at Montpelier Plantation genuinely remembered Meredith and I from our last visit… almost four year ago! It was as though we had taken a short trip across the island, instead of a multi-year hiatus back home. Even new additions to the staff since our last trip, like Kakia Michou made us feel as though we were long time friends, and it’s clear that the property prioritizes its warm interactions with the guests.
Overall Hotel Experience
Michael: Traveling with Orvis is always a delight, and Vermont has become one of Meredith and my favorite places to visit, so finding that perfect balance of style, comfort, and welcoming, tucked away in the Mad River valley easily makes our stay at the Pitcher Inn one of my favorites of the year. When planning every new trip to the state includes a “do you think we can make a night at the Pitcher work?”, you know you’ve found a second home.
Meredith: We stayed at fewer hotels in 2015 compared to years past, but I think the quality of our hotel experiences was certainly up this last year. (Maybe that’s an industry trend we can expect to see in future years?) I’ve always said that our trip to the Salt House Inn in 2013 taught us what the hotel experience should be, so it’s no surprise that this year’s trip to their sister property, Eben House, further reiterated what a hotel stay could be.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
Michael and I took an unintentional couple of months off from blogging toward the end of 2015. In fact, our posting for the entire year was a bit light compared to years past. That’s not to say that 2015 wasn’t anything to write home about – in fact, it was quite the opposite. We both remarked at various points throughout the year that 2015 really was the best year yet for our little family of three. In addition to the fantastic trips we took and the delicious meals we ate, we made so many memories together. As Orvis gets older, we continue to get even more sentimental about the time we spend with him (Read: we become crazier and crazier about him.), so twice daily walks and mornings at the beach became the standard, and in doing so, we made the happiest memories together. For me, there couldn’t be a better real life example of finding true joy through the simplicity.
2015 might not have been our most adventurous or glamorous, but it sure was one of the happiest. Here’s to recreating that same feeling year after year!
And because our “best of” posts are always my favorites to compile, we’ll be back on Friday with a combined Best of 2015 Food + Hotels post!
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As soon as I booked a wedding in Nashville, a city we’d always wanted to visit, I knew exactly where I wanted to stay – The 404 Hotel. I don’t recall where I’d first read about The 404, but after seeing its repeated mentions in all of my favorite travel magazines, there was no real question in my mind about where we’d stay.
Located in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, The 404 is known for its amazing onsite restaurant, five impeccably designed minimalist rooms, and its invisible service, a feature we’d not experienced in a hotel yet, but one we truly enjoyed. (This is a fantastic read about the rise of hotels with invisible services, highlighting The 404.)
We both loved the design of our room – the clean, light palette that made the wall art shine, the high ceilings, the tall sliding barn door, and every last detail of the boldly bright bathroom that blended the traditional and modern so perfectly. The restaurant, which we’ll cover in our future post about the city of Nashville itself, turned out to be a very strong contender for our best meal of the trip.
Traveling to a hotel, particularly for any Map & Menu feature, we’ve found that we typically depart having made a new friend – someone at the front desk or a manager who made our stay even more memorable – and although I thought I might miss this connection by staying at a hotel where you literally don’t see or meet a single member of the staff, I have to say, it was a bit liberating. We came and went using an access code given to us prior to our stay, and although we usually enjoy getting to talk to hotel staff about some of their favorite local haunts, we didn’t have any trouble getting through our own list of Nashville must-visits. Staying in an invisible service hotel is somewhat akin to having a well-designed apartment in whichever city you’re visiting.
If you’re looking for a stylish, inedpendent change of pace in your next Nashville hotel, look no further than The 404.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
Michael and I love going up to my family’s farm up in Wiscasset in the winter to explore the area with Orvis when everything is covered in the snow, but during a recent trip this fall, we realized that we hadn’t really taken advantage of the farm and much of the surrounding area in the fall season. The color, the slightly chilly but not too cold walks, and the early morning fall light are all things that we’ve missed in years past, so we’re trying to remedy that before the first snowfall.
With that in mind, we made the trip north on Saturday with the intention of visiting a new trail and revisiting a favorite midcoast restaurant. After walks through the woods and around the farm we had dinner in Rockland at Suzuki’s Sushi. Every part of our meal lived up to our memories from our first visit in 2013, and it was amazing to see how much downtown Rockland has grown in such a short amount of time.
Sunday began with a stop at Crissy’s, our go-to breakfast spot in the area, and then we explored the beautiful tree-lined paths and open shoreline of Dodge Point with Orvis. Although we missed peak foliage at this lovely preserve, returning during the height of the season is high on our list for next fall. A comforting meal from Treats and a trip to Rock Paper Scissors was just what we needed before heading back home to ready ourselves for the work week.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
With the always-crazy pace of summer, we almost missed an opportunity to visit Cape Cod this year. In years past, our trips to Provincetown had always been tied to mid-summer weddings, so we’d grown accustomed to the busy beaches and crowded streets, but after making our trip this past month, we quickly found out that the end of September is an almost perfect time to visit the town.
The crowds are mostly gone, save for a few tours buses that park in the center of town, and the weather is still pleasantly warm during the day, yet refreshingly chilly at night. We were able to enjoy delicious meals without any waiting at both old favorites and new finds, our strolls around town were highlighted by the late summer and early fall details we’d never had the chance to experience before, and the empty-beach panoramic sunsets over the water will be memories we’re not likely to forget.
Almost by accident, a beautiful shoulder-season getaway to Provincetown turned out to be a perfect way to cater in the change of season and cooler weather. The following spots are places we’d advise anyone to seek out during future trips to Ptown!
After our stay at Eben House, we were once again reminded of how a truly well-thought out hotel can have an extraordinary impact on your journey as whole. When you start and end your days in a space that was designed with such care and attention, you’re bound to have an outstanding trip – something Eben House delivers with perfection. Read more about our stay at Eben House here.
The Canteen, a bright, lively restaurant in the center of town, won us over with its wonderful Banh Mi and Kale Salad during our last trip to Provincetown, so enjoying another tasty meal there was at the top of our must-do list. Thankfully, we were able to follow up our fantastic meal on their patio with a sweet treat from their sister business, the ice cream + donut shop next door, Happy Camper.
We love trading in the rocky coast of Maine for the wide open stretches of sandy beaches on Cape Cod for a few days. Both Herring Cove & Race Point beaches are the perfect places to soak up the midday sun, or better yet, watch it disappear over the ocean.
With great branding that will easily catch your eye as you’re walking down Commercial Street, Kohi Coffee is a must-visit. It doesn’t hurt that they also serve our favorite Tandem Coffee Roasters coffee!
Sadly, the doors to John Derian’s shop in town closed just days before our trip, however we still visited another old standby, SHOR, and then spent time daydreaming about which piece we’d select next from one of our favorite galleries in town, the Adam Peck Gallery.
Do you have any Provincetown favorites we missed? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
As promised, Meredith and I have been busy slicing and dicing all afternoon, getting ready for tomorrow’s festivities! If you’ve ever texted with Mere, you can probably pick out her creation, and it only takes meeting Orvis once to figure out which one is his perennial favorite. I like to call one of mine “Self-Portrait Pre-Braces” – I think its goofiness balances well against the evil side of the final pumpkin.
Happy Halloween! Don’t eat too much of that delicious candy.
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Last year we had more than a few people reach out to us about the missing jack-o-lanterns on the site. Although we love this yearly tradition, we had something slightly more important on our minds – like getting married the day after Halloween! We still managed to carve the pumpkins above, we just never had time to share them.
For you jack-o-lantern fans out there, have no fear – Michael is sharpening the knives and I’m making our go-to apple cider bourbon cocktails. We’ll be carving this week and cannot wait to share our 2015 pumpkins with you soon!2 Comments - Leave a comment
Since moving to New England, we’ve made three trips to Provincetown, with each one being better than the last. Our two most recent jaunts down the Cape have been some of our favorite New England getaways, thanks almost entirely to Kevin & David of Salt Hotels. In June of 2013, we fell in love with their first property, the Salt House Inn, when we planned an all too quick overnight in Provincetown the day before shooting a wedding. We’ve been following the growth of their brand ever since, and were delighted to see them open a second property in Provincetown last year, Eben House, followed by a hotel this year on Shelter Island, The Chequit.
Last month I made arrangements for Michael and I to stay at Eben House for a relaxing midweek getaway. We loved the Salt House so much that I was skeptical as to whether or not the Eben House would be able to live up to the high standards its sister hotel set for us in 2013. Fortunately, It took all of two minutes for my skepticism to completely vanish, as we again found ourselves enamored with every single detail of the hotel. We’ve found that these unique details – the ones that often go unlooked by other hotels and inns – have essentially become a trademark of Salt Hotels, helping make their properties stand out and garner so much well-deserved attention.
Photographing our suite made me absolutely giddy – there were so many perfectly styled vignettes just waiting to be captured. The light from the large windows filled the space, highlighting the clean colors and contrasting details. The clawfoot tub in the center of the room became my evening spot to unwind and relax, while the suite’s porch was the perfect place to plan our days each morning.
Outside of our room, the rest of the hotel proved to be just as enjoyable. Some of our favorite design elements were the commissioned pieces by Provincetown artist, Michael Gredler, where classic portraits of the property’s early family were filled with subtle quirky details. In true Map & Menu fashion, we also loved the custom map of Provincetown, drawn by Kevin, highlighting some of their favorite places in town. Kevin was the one who suggested we dine at The Canteen during our last visit, so having access to a map full of his and David’s favorite places was an invaluable resource for navigating the many shops and restaurants of the town.
One of the highlights of our visit to the Salt House Inn was its outstanding breakfast – a tradition which Eben House continues in a similarly delicious fashion in its charming conservatory, either to be enjoyed there or amidst the garden on the brick patio.
Our original stay at the Salt House Inn had a pretty significant impact on the way in which we see, or rather experience, the design of many of the hotels from our travels, and after our stay at Eben House, we were once again reminded of how a truly well-thought out hotel can have an extraordinary impact on your journey as whole. When you start and end your days in a space that was designed with such care and attention, you’re bound to have an outstanding trip – something Eben House delivered with perfection.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.4 Comments - Leave a comment
Over the weekend Michael, Orvis, and I traveled to New Hampshire to shoot a collaboration with the state tourism board. We took one of the wooden kayaks Michael built with the help of his father and friend along with us for some paddling shots around Little Lake Sunapee. The photos of Michael kayaking make me think of the Your L.L. Bean Boyfriend Tumblr – real people surely do not smile that much while partaking in adventurous activities, right?
The following are a few outtakes from our shoot. Michael and Orvis were wonderful models for me, and as you’ll see, I even hopped in the boat for a few paddling shots myself. The leaves in New Hampshire around Little Lake Sunapee and up Mt. Kearsarge are just gorgeous right now!
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue (and Michael Cain) for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
A few weeks ago, Meredith came home from an assignment, raving about the restaurant she’d spent the afternoon photographing in Biddeford, and it didn’t take long (a single day in fact) before we were making the trip down I-95 to give their “northcountry kitchen” comfort food a try.
When you walk through the doors of Custom Deluxe, you’re greeted with some somewhat unfamiliar words to these parts, that still have the effect of bringing a smile to my face wherever I hear them – “Hey y’all! Come on in.” Co-owner, Megan McVey, a Virginian native, runs the front of the house with a welcoming degree of Southern hospitality, while her fiancé, Thomas Malz, works his magic in the kitchen. With big-name restaurant experience,Malz makes dishes like savory pork ribs over a refreshing vegetable ‘slaw’ or his ramen-take on chicken noodle soup with house noodles and confit chicken seem effortless. Together, they create an atmosphere and cuisine that adds yet another excellent reason to make your way to Biddeford in the near future. Meredith and I sampled a decent chunk of the menu that evening (including the aforementioned ribs and soup) and polished a delicious meal off with an outstanding raspberry angel food cake dessert. With the cooler days of fall upon us, I’m sure the chicken noodle soup and the simple pasta dish will inspire us to make many more trips down the road over the next few months.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment