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
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
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
When dreaming up weekend trips to Boston with Orvis, The Liberty Hotel has always been high on our list of places to stay. Friends of ours with dogs have long talked about how accommodating the hotel is to pets, especially on Wednesday evenings in the summer during the famed Yappier Hour. So, when we found out that I’d be speaking at a conference in Boston this past weekend and decided to bring Orvis along for the trip, we looked no further than The Liberty.
Housed in the former Charles Street Jail, The Liberty Hotel is easily one of the more unique settings in which we’ve ever spent the night. The stylish open main space, in the old jail’s central octagonal building, retains many of its original 19th century architectural details, including the cells inside Clink, the catwalk walkways, and the wrought-ironwork on the windows. But while the details are a constant reminder of the space’s past criminal “guests”, a night at The Liberty is far from a stint in The Slammer. The modern amenities, the comfortable rooms (many with amazing views of Beacon Hill and the Charles River), and the impeccable service are just a handful of reasons why we’ll be returning in the future, but possibly the greatest asset of The Liberty for our trio was just how dog-friendly it turned out to be.
We don’t always choose to bring Orvis along with us when we travel to cities – he’s always seemed to be happiest running wild in the country – but we couldn’t have been more pleased that he made the trip down to Boston. Walking around Beacon Hill, down to the South End, up and down Comm. Ave, and through the Public Garden with him at our side was something we’ll always remember fondly. From our research and the comments of friends, we expected a certain level of dog-friendliness at The Liberty prior to our arrival, but we were continually blown away by how well he was treated, both by the staff and by the other guests throughout our stay. He was encouraged to sit right next to us as we sipped our cocktails in the lobby bar, something which we rarely have the chance to experience with Orvis indoors. The image of a rather large, goofy dog in the middle of such a luxurious setting will always bring a smile to our faces, and we honestly cannot imagine planning another trip to Boston with Orvis that doesn’t include a stay at The Liberty – we all enjoyed ourselves way too much to not have an encore visit.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
Four years ago, our trip to Montpelier Plantation on the island of Nevis, served as a major source of inspiration for Michael and I to launch Map & Menu, and just a few weeks ago, we finally had the chance to return – this time shooting some imagery for the very place that opened our eyes to what the hotel experience could be. Although we felt a sense of comfort returning somewhere we’d been before, there was also a unique excitement accompanying that comfort, since we knew exactly what was waiting for us at the end of our 13 hour journey to the island.
Many of the reasons we originally fell in love with Montpelier in 2011 are still there, largely unchanged – Kaddy’s rum punches, the friendly, welcoming staff, pre-dinner cocktails with other guests, the beautiful pool, the ancient mill, and that timeless weeping fig tree that guards the entrance. And although we’d be just fine feeling as though the property and our experiences there had fallen into a bubble of forgotten time, we were greeted with plenty of newness on this trip – the colorful new rooms, the peaceful private beach, the small modern updates, and friendly new additions to the staff.
It’s reassuring to know that your memories of a place and experience can actually be improved upon by returning, and although this new time we spent on the island will serve as a brand new set of memories that we’ll fondly think back on, its easy to view each trip to the island as a set of building blocks toward a greater timeless experience, where you dream about your return in the time between. In the words of our waitress, Vanetta, as she tried to cheer us up at breakfast on our final morning, “you have to leave to come again.”
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As we finish out this week on a high note with some gorgeous weather in Maine, we just wanted to quickly share one last part of our trip to Vermont and the Pitcher Inn that made the stay so unforgettable – their inn-dog-in-training, Maisy. When we don’t travel with Orvis, one of Meredith and my favorite parts of any trip is meeting an inn dog to take the sting away of not being with our own furry friend. So although Orvis loved meeting and walking with Maisy around Warren, we know that this beautiful golden retriever will bring plenty of smiles to many travelers for years to come.
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In the center of the town of Warren, Vermont there’s a bend in the mountain brook that cuts perpendicular across Main Street. Nestled in that bend, you’ll find the Pitcher Inn, a grand white building, heavily-porched, with a character that defies its surprisingly young age. Meredith, Orvis, and I recently spent a few evenings at the inn, and to say that we fell in love would be an absolute understatement. With its staff, design, food, comfort, and personality, our stay here was easily one of the more memorable we’ve shared since starting our site three years ago.
In the mid 1990s, after a fire reduced the original Pitcher Inn (essentially a ski hostel) to little more than a footprint, a number of ideas were pitched for the property – even that of a nursing home or a gas station. Fortunately, the Smith family had the foresight to see the property’s importance to the character of the town and value as more than a pit stop, and thus began the life of today’s Pitcher Inn.
As the inn was rebuilt, careful consideration was placed on details to make it feel authentic to its New England roots. If you’ve ever spent time in an old home or building that’s seen years of stories, growth, and renovation, you know that floors are rarely level between additions and hallways aimlessly meander, connecting the dots between rooms. These details were carried over to the inn’s new construction, giving a historical feeling to your stay, while tucking away the modern conveniences to the peripheral. Although throughout the first floor, the inn follows the standard upscale historical Vermont hotel to which the exterior alludes, opening any given door of the eleven rooms of the inn, and you’ll find an eclectic collection of themes that represent some part of Vermont’s history. A colonial room decked in toile, an alpine cabin with actual signage from neighboring ski mountains, a river room with a fly-fishing tie table and canoe alcove, and Orvis’s personal favorite, the dog-friendly ‘stable’ (which happens to be the only surviving structure of the fire). The detail and craftsmanship of the rooms at the Pitcher Inn create a delightful feeling of playfulness while serving as a nod to that which defines the people and culture of Vermont. Our spacious room had a rustic character, accented with modern comforts, and would have been a perfect place to return to after a long day of exploring. While Orvis generally loves any trip to Vermont, I don’t think he’ll ever be quite as excited with our accommodations as he was to find his own Orvis dog bed and a pile of treats and toys upon check-in!
Another fantastic part of the Pitcher Inn is its food and drink. Each morning, the breakfast options would range from the classic bacon and egg staple, to pancakes and french toast with that oh-so-delicious Vermont maple syrup. Starting days with a filling breakfast is one of my favorite parts of travel, and the Pitcher Inn does it as well as anyone. Our one meal at the inn’s primary restaurant, 275 Main, was exceptional. Vermont is no stranger to fresh, locally sourced, delicious cuisine, but our dishes and wine that evening were easily one of the best meals we’ve had in Vermont, or anywhere for that matter. For a more casual atmosphere, we highly recommend Tracks, the relaxed tavern downstairs – the beer list and burger are worth it alone.
Before I wrap up, I feel a special need to highlight how exceptional the staff at the Pitcher Inn was during our stay. In our travels, Meredith and I have had all sorts of interactions with hotel employees. Ranging from rigid ruled courtesy to friendly casual conversation, we typically can guess how our stays will play out not too long after we arrive. Adding a large black lab to the mix can add a little bit of hesitation, but at the Pitcher Inn, there was absolutely zero hesitation and “friendly” would be an understatement. From the moment we checked in, we felt right at home amongst friends. Orvis was doted on and genuinely loved. From Siobhan at the front desk to Ari, the general manager, and everyone in between, we felt as though we were completely taken care of. Dinner recommendations were made from personal experiences, our names were used in passing “hellos”, and we felt like much more than just two guests passing through. I could write an entire post just about the people that make the Pitcher Inn so outstanding, but I’ll save the gushing… well aside from a special mention and thanks to Ari. His knowledge and personality added something to our stay that we’ve never quite experienced before. His commitment to the inn and to ensuring that each and every guest has an exceptional time is simply unrivaled in our travels, and suffice it to say, if every inn had an Ari, we might not ever return to our own home.
Staying at the Pitcher Inn is really all about the experience. The property is so much more than just its Relais & Chateaux affiliation, or its eleven uniquely beautiful rooms – it’s about the people, the details, the food, and the character that really make your time here exceptional. We missed the inn the very moment we pulled away, and cannot wait to revisit it often in the future.
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Although our trip was postponed by one snowstorm and cut short by another, my mother and I had a splendid visit to the newly reopened White Hart Inn last week. Located right in the center of the charming village of Salisbury, Connecticut, the White Hart opened its 19th century doors for business late this past summer after being closed for four years. The owners, a group of investors with ties to the surrounding Litchfield & Columbia counties, hope that the inn will once again serve as a gathering place for the Salisbury community, and if the scene at the inn’s Tap Room on a random Wednesday night in January is any indication, they’re well on their way to achieving this goal – we settled into the last available seats at the cozy pub for a delicious, comforting dinner after we arrived. When the inn’s formal dining room, headed by Chef Annie Wayte, opens this Friday, I’m certain the White Hart will become even more of a fixture for the area.
The inn’s clean, classic elegance was accented by hardwoods, bold art, and strong patterns. Its rooms were lovely and luxurious, and everyone we encountered on staff was delightful. Photographing the details of the sitting room and reception area, including artwork by Jasper Johns & Frank Stella, was an absolute pleasure.
Planning a return trip with Michael & Orvis – the inn is dog-friendly (!) – is high on my list of things to do this year. There’s so much more of Northwestern Connecticut I’d love to see, and two of our favorite areas to visit in New England, the Berkshires & Hudson Valley are just a stone’s throw away. Hopefully next time the weather will cooperate a little more, and we’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy all that the White Hart and surrounding area have to offer, but until then, I’ll just keep on smiling, thinking about all of the delightful parts I already had the chance to experience.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
Recapping some of our best hotel stays each year is always an enjoyable experience reliving the memories, adventures, and meals of the past year. Here are some of our hotel favorites from 2014 that we hope will help you in planning your upcoming getaways.
Michael: From the moment we stepped onto the property at Charleston’s Zero George, I felt right at home with it’s classic Southern charm, style, and understated elegance. I’d be hard pressed to stay anywhere else in a town I can’t wait to return to.
Meredith: The Marlton’s rooms, restaurant, and branding are all packed with a quirky personality that perfectly balances style and expression. I loved every moment of my stay there this year.
Michael: The nod to Scotland’s own Sean Connery at The Balmoral in Edinburgh was a nice touch to an already classically cool bathroom.
Meredith: These days it seems as though my dreams are made of the marble sinks and brass Waterworks fixtures from The Marlton.
Michael & Meredith: We loved everything about our time with Orvis at Topnotch – the dog-friendly green spaces, the access to trails, and the welcome package for Orvis – but getting to eat outside with him at each meal at the resort was easily the highlight of our entire stay.
Michael: North Haven, home to the Nebo Lodge, is a picturesque and quintessential as a Maine island can get. Miles off the coast, exploring the island’s trails, village, and farms was an excellent way to spend a weekend getaway.
Meredith: Drinks atop the The Surrey in the hotel’s private garden is one of the very best views of Manhattan I’ve experienced thus far.
Michael: Eating pancakes and eggs on the patio by the pool with Orvis by our side at Topnotch Resort is just about the only way to unseat Hotel Fauchere from its breakfast throne.
Meredith: No other hotel breakfast has earned its own post on Map & Menu, or been the reason for a road trip detour. The breakfast at Hotel Fauchere is once again my favorite.
Michael & Meredith: The restaurant at Nebo Lodge is what brought us out to the island of North Haven in the first place, and after enjoying two fantastic dinners and two breakfasts there, it’s safe to say that the food was well worth the trip.
Michael: A slightly unusual, but amazing amenity of Atlanta’s Stonehurst Place is its museum-quality art selection with works by names like Warhol, Picasso, and many others.
Meredith: The spa at the Woodstock Inn is right at the top of my list of reasons I want to return to this charming Vermont inn. I didn’t have time for a treatment, but a mere $25 gave me access to the beautiful facilities – an amazing value!
Interaction with Hotel Staff:
Michael: Maybe it was due to the fact that Orvis was their very first canine guest, but every member of the staff at the Woodstock Inn seemed to know us by name and be excited about Orvis. Everyone who knows us knows that the fastest way to our hearts is through our buddy.
Meredith: Inez, a co-owner of Table on Ten, made my trip to New York an absolute delight. She seemed to be involved in each and every part of the inn and restaurant’s operations – welcoming, cooking, etc – and her hard work and creative attention to detail was evident throughout my stay.
Overall Hotel Experience
Michael: I couldn’t have imagined a better way to kick off our Scotland getaway than by staying at Greystones in Oban. A modernly-renovated baronial home overlooking the bay, the boutique bed & breakfast was wonderfully comfortable, a short stroll into town, and served an outstanding breakfast on each of our mornings.
Meredith: Between the amazing meals, the lovely chats with Liz the manager, and the Angela Adams-clad modern cottage aesthetic of Nebo Lodge, it was easily one of the most enjoyable trips of my year. And the fact that the pups were able to join us on our adventures around North Haven made it even more memorable.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.Leave a comment
We hit a Map & Menu milestone last week when we checked into the Woodstock Inn & Resort… our very own Orvis was the first – the very first – four-legged guest to ever stay at the inn! This of course, made us the happiest people in all of Vermont. He was treated with such fanfare every time we walked through the doors. The entire staff must have been briefed about this VIP guest, because everyone we met greeted him by name and called to him from afar. He was asked to pose by the fireplace for a photo, given treats, and received lots of love from other guests who somehow also knew that he was the first dog to stay at the inn. It was as though we were with a celebrity, and naturally, we loved every minute of it.
Beyond all of the red carpet treatment for Orvis, Michael and I absolutely adored everything about our stay at the Woodstock Inn. Located right in the heart of one of the more charming towns we’ve ever visited, the inn is a focal point of Woodstock, and just steps away from the beautiful trails and carriage paths of a national park, and the shops, galleries, and restaurants of Woodstock’s two main streets. Waking up with a deliciously hearty breakfast from the inn and falling asleep on the wonderfully comfy bed became book-end highlights to a fantastic Vermont getaway.
The inn’s stunning LEED-designed spa should not be missed. Knowing I wouldn’t have enough time for an entire treatment before we had to checkout on our final day, I opted to purchase a day pass that gave me access to all of the luxurious spa facilities, including the steam room, sauna, and whirlpool. Checking out of a hotel has never been so depressing! Waiting until the final day of our trip to visit the spa was certainly a mistake on my part, but you can bet that the spa will be one of the first activities I enjoy the next time we’re back in Woodstock.
Staying at an inn as well-appointed as the Woodstock Inn & Resort is always a treat, but the fact that Orvis can join along in the fun makes the entire experience even more memorable. We’re already looking forward to our next family trip there!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.8 Comments - Leave a comment