A guaranteed route to the top of Map & Menu’s favorite hotel list is one that includes the following: a well-executed sense of design and comfort, a friendly and helpful staff, delicious food, and the willingness to embrace our furry buddy, Orvis. Stowe’s Topnotch Resort checked off every one of those items, with extra emphasis on the dog-friendly point, and after three wonderfully relaxing days spent there, I find myself anxiously anticipating a return trip in the future.
If you’ve heard us mention it once, you’ve heard us mention it one thousand times – traveling with Orvis can present its fair share of difficulties. Finding hotels that we’re drawn to aesthetically, that simply accommodate dogs of any size is difficult enough, but finding one that goes out of their way to be overly dog-friendly to our large-ish travel companion, and does so without ushering us around to the back door of a forgotten side of the hotel, is almost an impossibility. It’s the reason that places like Hotel Fauchere, the Porches Inn, the Inn at Perry Cabin, and Palmetto Bluff hold such special places in our traveling hearts. Topnotch easily deserves its own spot on that list. When we arrived, Orvis was greeted with open arms and more than his fair share of treats. Each of the resort’s restaurants had outdoor seating where dogs were welcome, and with the exception of the pool area, the entire property seemed to be open to its guests and their pets. Not that Orvis needs any more of an ego boost, but at one point, a young guest walked by with her mother and proclaimed “That dog is horrendously cute!”
I don’t know that in all of our travels, Meredith and I have ever been quite as comfortable with Orvis as we were at Topnotch. That, combined with the comfort and style of the resort made for a pretty unforgettable stay that could easily become a recurring part of our annual Vermont getaway.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
Photographing a wedding in the Upper East Side turned out to be the perfect excuse to finally stay at the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in Manhattan, The Surrey. The hotel’s stunning rooftop garden is reason enough to put The Surrey high on your list of places to stay during your next trip to New York, but as it turns out, the rooms themselves warrant a visit. Expecting a typical (almost uncomfortable) tiny New York hotel room, I was shocked with how spacious and luxurious my 330+ square foot “salon” felt. Retreating back to my room at The Surrey each night after shooting was such a treat – even though I was in the city for work, whenever I happened to be in my room, I felt 100% on vacation.
While I didn’t have as much time to lounge around and enjoy the 17th story rooftop garden as much as I would have liked to, enjoying a glass of rosé and a plate of bruschetta from the hotel’s restaurant, Cafe Boulud, was the perfect way to spend a summer evening in the city. (Really, I’m not sure I’d ever want to visit Manhattan in the summer months without staying at The Surrey and taking advantage of that gorgeous rooftop.)
In the most leisurely of ways, I took full advantage of my final morning at The Surrey by feasting on a stack of delicious pancakes delivered to my door, while reading the Sunday paper. I really don’t think I could have imagined a more relaxing way to decompress on a work weekend in New York.
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As luck would have it, the very first place we stayed for our week in Scotland together turned out to be the favorite of our Scottish accommodations. It also just so happened to be the bed & breakfast we knew the least about before our trip – what a delightful surprise!
Greystones, a boutique b&b on the Argyll coast in Oban was our first stop after Michael picked me up at the Edinburgh airport. We happened upon the Greystones website online when we were searching (and searching!) for a place to stay in between Edinburgh and Skye, and since it seemed like a decent fit, we booked their last room quickly as they were filling up left and right.
Consisting of five contemporary rooms inside a beautiful historic Scottish Baronial house overlooking the pristine Oban Bay and just a short walk to the water, Greystones perfectly blends the old and new. We simply adored our bright, spacious room (with its massively tall ceilings!), and couldn’t get over the views from the breakfast nook, where we enjoyed an exceptional meal each morning of our stay. Owners, Mark & Suzanne, were wonderful innkeepers and we so appreciated their calming, minimal aesthetic.
When the time came for us to head up the coast to Skye, we were terribly sad to leave Greystones. We found solace, however, in the fact that we could at least share this gem of a bed & breakfast with you all here, as we truly believe everyone traveling to the western coast of Scotland should make it a point to stay here.
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I remember bookmarking the chic Greenwich Village hotel, The Marlton, the minute I finished reading about it on The Pursuit of Style this winter, and when spring rolled around and my mother asked me to accompany her on a work trip to New York, I told her that we needn’t look any further than The Marlton. Since then the hotel has been featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List (along with a few other Map & Menu favorites – most notably, the Salt House Inn) and seems to be the place to stay in the Village. For that matter, it might just be the place to be for locals as well, thanks to Margaux, the hotel’s chic restaurant.
Michael appreciates a thoughtfully designed hotel room as much as I do (and goodness knows he loves a luxurious bathroom), but it was fitting that I had the chance to experience this chic hotel with my mother, the woman (mostly) responsible for the love and appreciation I have for beautiful hotels & inns. We couldn’t get enough of the marble bathroom (and its giant soaking tub!), the brass fixtures, the herringbone floors, or the crown moldings – you can imagine how pleased I was to be able to photograph such a lovely space.
On our way out the door after checking out the morning of our departure, my mother proclaimed that she’ll never stay in another New York hotel again – The Marlton is the only place for her. I have to say, I think she just might be onto something. After all, mothers really do know best, don’t they?
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
After reading about Table on Ten, a three room inn & restaurant in Bloomville, New York, on Designtripper last year, I mentally bookmarked it and hoped I’d have an excuse to stay and/or eat at what appeared to be a charming Catskills getaway at some point in the near future. A wedding in Cooperstown this past weekend, just an hour north of Bloomville, seemed like the perfect excuse and a pretty great way to break up at least one leg of my trip to New York.
Five hours after departing Maine, I arrived to a bustling scene – every table in the downstairs cafe was filled for Table on Ten’s Pizza Night. I quickly checked into my room and made my way back downstairs to join the crowd for some delicious pizza. The evening’s special, a fennel and spring vegetable pizza with eggs on top and a glass of wine was precisely what I needed after my drive. The food more than lived up to what I’d been looking forward to for about a year now, and from what I heard from the other patrons in the lively cafe (the line was nearly out the door when I retired to my room for the evening), they were just as pleased with their pizzas.
I loved the simple, rustic aesthetic of the entire property, especially the room where I stayed. The dark walls and contrasting accents were a dream to photograph, simply because they’re so different from many of the places we visit. Each of the three rooms at Table on Ten feature a handmade bed that deservedly end up being the room’s focal point. I was a little hesitant about the idea of sharing a bathroom with the other suite on the second floor, but as luck would have it, I was the only guest on that floor, so there was no need to share. Even if the other suite had been occupied, I think it only would have further reinforced the feeling I had throughout my entire stay – that I was a guest in the well designed home of a friend who just so happened to be a talented chef! (In case you’re wondering, the third floor attic has its own bathroom, complete with an en-suite clawfoot tub.) The following morning I enjoyed a delicious breakfast that put me in the perfect mindset for a day of shooting – a final touch to a great stay.
If you find yourself in the Northwestern Catskills or if you just have a hankering to explore the bucolic region of Delaware County, do look into planning a stay or a meal at Table on Ten – it’s a uniquely lovely experience that shouldn’t be missed!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
Meredith and I often get emails and comments from Map & Menu readers asking for help in planning their own Portland adventures. While we love that people are finding and using the site for the exact reason we created it – to be a tried and true travel resource – we’ve only had a few first-hand accommodation experiences in our hometown of Portland – all from before we moved to Maine, and long before Map & Menu. Thus, when we saw one of our favorite branding agencies in town share some of the recent work they’d done for a new Portland inn, we quickly searched for more information and reached out to its owners to setup a visit.
The Mercury Inn has many of the things that typically draw us to the places we stay on our travels – creative taste, a clean aesthetic, cozy accommodations, and great branding. During our tour of the property, we had the chance to speak to the co-owners, Tim and Jake, about their experience in running, then renovating the previous inn at the State Street location, and their passion for the food and service industries that led them toward owning a bed and breakfast. After managing what was formerly the Wild Iris Inn for part of the season prior to re-opening as the Mercury Inn, Tim and Jake began to renovate according to the experiences they had gleaned from patrons, the property, and the sustainable vision they had brought with them. The design of the interior came from Tim’s sister’s firm, Landing Design & Development and has a clean, contemporary feel that meshes perfectly with the branding done by Might & Main. Details like the custom Sea Bags pillows, roman numeral door lettering, and large-printed shower curtains add fun accents and give the space plenty of its own personality. On top of being within walking distance to some of our favorite restaurants in Portland’s West End and on Congress Street, Tim and Jake use their culinary experience to provide homemade breakfasts to visitors, which we’re looking forward to trying at some future date.
We’re thrilled to add the aptly-named Mercury Inn (Mercury was the Roman patron god of travelers) to our list of places to stay in Portland. We’re sure that given it’s design and comfort it’ll be the perfect fit for many Map & Menu readers in the future.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.Leave a comment
Every now and again on our travels, Michael and I feel like we’ve truly stumbled upon a place to stay that simply seems to be doing everything just right. Every detail and design element seems to be carefully thought of, and our trip always ends with mixed feelings of happiness from the comfort of our stay and sadness that it must come to an end. Last week, Michael and I had the opportunity to visit one of these ‘finds’ – Stonehurst Place in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood – and though our stay was short, we left feeling as though we’d discovered a true southern gem of a bed & breakfast, one that we just couldn’t wait to share with y’all!
There’s a surprising amount to cover when describing this six-room 19th century craftsman. Owner Barb Shadomy has done an unbelievable job restoring the home to its original charm, while still providing any and all of the modern comforts one could want. Everywhere one looks, they’ll find a balanced blend of that historical framework, finished with modern accents. The main floor plan is essentially as it was more than 100 years ago, while the furnishings and art enhance the aesthetic in a more contemporary fashion. We took our time browsing the inn’s impressive art collection, an extensive, non-exaggerative “museum-quality” body of work curated by the owner that includes pieces by Andy Warhol & Pablo Picasso, among many others. Our room, the Gables Suite, was open, spacious, and filled with natural light. Details like the lettered room name on the door, the fresh cut wildflowers, large classic wooden desk, and the comfortable leather lounge chair only added to our delight, and it honestly seemed as though the art in our room was made for the two of us.
Innkeepers, Lori & Paul Worrell, were just another wonderful part of our stay at Stonehurst Place. Their warmth & southern hospitality is evident in many aspects of the inn, from the delicious breakfast the couple prepares each morning to the conversations they shared with us and the other guests during our visit. We particularly enjoyed hearing Paul speak of the green initiatives at Stonehurst Place, including the modern rainwater harvesting system which now produces purified drinkable and usable water – the first of its kind for hotel properties in Atlanta.
I honestly cannot imagine us planning a return trip to Atlanta that doesn’t include a stay at the Stonehurst Place. With its close proximity to Piedmont Park and some of Midtown’s best restaurants, the location is surely hard to beat. Although a trip in the height of spring would allow us to enjoy the beautifully landscaped property and spend more time exploring the darling neighborhoods nearby, it’s hard to imagine a time of year that a stay at Stonehurst Place would be anything short of idyllic.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.6 Comments - Leave a comment
Most of the time, when travel plans go awry due to weather, and trips have to be extended, it can be a cause for headaches and stress, but when a winter storm threatened our return trip from Charleston to Boston, we could barely contain our excitement at having the opportunity to prolong our stay at Zero George Street, and quickly rescheduled our flight, even before the original had officially been canceled.
Simply put, staying at Zero George was an absolute delight. The property consists of a number of early 19th century buildings (two original to the land and two painstakingly relocated from the area), in the beautiful, historic, and conveniently-located Ansonborough neighborhood. It is the perfect mix of classic Southern charm, style, comfort, and convenience. The buildings are positioned to form a peaceful enclave around a central courtyard, and from the moment we first walked through the entrance gate, we knew that we’d made the right decision with our reservations. Our room was perfect for the two of us – just the place we couldn’t wait to return to between meals and meandering expeditions through the city – and the location is a quick stroll to the French Quarter, South of Broad, and Lower and Upper King neighborhoods. The staff was extremely friendly and accommodating, and the details of the inn gave Meredith plenty of photographic inspiration each day. Staying at the hotel was more than just the necessary lodging detail of our trip, it became a highlight, even serving as a evening porch picnic destination after countless Charleston dinners had finally taken their toll on us.
We count ourselves very fortunate to have been able to make Zero George part of our Charleston getaway, and can’t wait to one day return.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.9 Comments - Leave a comment
I’ve been looking forward to sharing our Best of 2013 posts since we published the previous year’s last January! Here’s a glimpse as to what helped make 2013 such a memorable year of travel for the two of us. Thank you all for following along with these adventures of ours. We hope they come in handy when planning your own future trips.
Michael: I think that both Meredith and I would agree that Provincetown’s Salt House Inn was one of our favorite surprises of this past year. Every detail of the inn seemed to be carefully thought out, and there was hardly an inch of the property that didn’t adhere to it’s creative, yet minimal, cottage aesthetic.
Meredith: While I find myself increasingly drawn to modern design (see bathroom pick below), the classic country feel of the Bedford Post Inn with touches like its clawfoot tubs, exposed beams, vine-covered pergolas, & flagstone walls embodies nearly every aspect of my dream home.
Michael: The soaking clawfoot, room-sized walk-in shower, and heated marble floors at the Bedford Post Inn top my list. It’s no coincidence that Meredith is now coveting many of the same features for our own bathroom down the road.
Meredith: Maybe it’s because we live in such an old home, but I’m always fond of staying in hotels with super modern, minimal bathrooms – it feels so luxurious to me. The bathroom at h2hotel in Healdsburg fit the bill perfectly with clean lines, wooden accents, and subtle colors.
Michael & Meredith: More often than not, I forgo packing away the leftover toiletries from our travels, but there was hardly a second thought to scrounging up every last item of the Malin Goetz rum products at the Mondrian Soho in New York.
Michael & Meredith: Hands-down, our experience with Orvis at the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville was one of the highlights of our travels this year. After a long drive down from Maine, Orvis couldn’t wait to stretch his legs on the property’s wooded trails and take a quick dip in the lake. The staff seemed to genuinely love his presence, and staying in one of the cottages on the property dissuaded any fears of Orvis disrupting other guests (or possibly the other way around). The town of Charlottesville and its surrounding area was also pleasantly dog-friendly, with plenty to do for our entire family.
Michael: A colonial estate, set on 100 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, during a springtime visit to Charlottesville made the Clifton Inn one of the more enjoyable settings from our travels this year.
Meredith: The expansive coastal views from the Ocean House are pretty tough to beat – even during a cold New England winter, the beach was stunningly beautiful.
Michael: I almost couldn’t believe it when Kevin, the innkeeper at the Salt House Inn, told us that the breakfast included in our stay was of his own creation. The spread could’ve easily rivaled any of the breakfast or brunch restaurants we visited this year, and items like the zucchini, tomato, basil, goat cheese, and onion frittata, the strawberry vanilla waffle trifle, or the bourbon caramel-glazed pineapple upside down cake almost singlehandedly convinced us to stay another night.
Meredith: Regrettably, there are times we drive right past the exit for Hotel Fauchère en route to North Carolina, but we’ve never once driven through Milford, Pennsylvania without daydreaming about the breakfasts at Hotel Fauchère. I emailed Michael a photo of the homemade yogurt when Orvis and I stayed there in May while he was in Italy, and believe it or not, he was the one.
Michael & Meredith: Although not the primary restaurant of the Ocean House, our back-to-back meals in the property’s cozy Winter Garden were two of our favorite meals of the year – hotel or no hotel. While all of our dishes were fantastic, the pièce de résistance was somewhat surprisingly the Caesar salad, a menu item that we’d typically overlook, but enjoyed so much that we’ve ordered more than our fair share since returning to Maine in hopes of finding one only half as delicious.
Michael: We enjoyed the art at the Ocean House so much that we saw fit to git it its own post. Although it’s probably not a typical ‘amenity’, exploring each floor and the gallery downstairs was a delightful way to pass the time when the weather outside wouldn’t cooperate.
Meredith: Hotel bikes are some of the most fun perks of any hotel, and I particularly enjoyed exploring the town on two wheels with the bicycles from our hotels in Healdsburg.
Interaction with Hotel Staff
Michael: The staff at the Clifton Inn was delightfully welcoming and helpful. When we found ourselves looking for suggestions of different places to eat and things to do in town, they spent a considerable amount of time walking us through their own favorites. And as I mentioned above, they seemed to really take to Orvis (a lot easier said than done when you’re worried about what a 90lb. dog could do to your guestroom), and obviously one of the best ways to get on our good side is through our furry friend.
Meredith: From the time we arrived, through the correspondence we’ve shared with them after our visit, the innkeepers at the Salt House Inn were absolutely wonderful. One of my favorite memories from our short trip to Provincetown was when we ran into Kevin, one of the innkeepers, at the Canteen (his recommendation) while we were eating dinner. Another guest from the inn stopped by to chat with us as well – a true testament to Kevin’s infectiously warm & friendly personality (and great taste in food)!
Michael: Our entire trip to Sonoma was one of the more memorable adventures we’ve taken together, and the two hotels where we stayed (from the same family), h2hotel and Hotel Healdsburg, greatly added to that experience. Set in downtown Healdsburg, they were the perfect jumping off points as we explored the town and the rest of wine country, and splendidly comfortable places to rest our weary wine-filled heads at night. The contrasting style and elegance that both properties offered were a delight, and I don’t know that any other hotels quite accented our travels from the year in the way that these two did.
Meredith: Every single aspect of our (all too short) stay at the Salt House Inn was truly fantastic. We found ourselves constantly impressed by Kevin & David’s attention to detail, which both minor and major, were certainly what made the inn stand out in my mind months after our summer visit.
Daydreaming about a future trip yet? Check out our 2012 Best of Hotels post for more travel inspiration, and if you’re planning a trip to Maine, don’t forget to take a peek at 10 of our favorite inns published in the Guardian this fall.
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When we told our friends, Rachel & John, about our upcoming trip to Healdsburg, their eyes grew wide with excitement as they insisted we look into making a reservation h2hotel, one of the hotels where they stayed during their honeymoon in wine country. We came home from our lunch with them, eager to book our stay after hearing such an enthusiastic review, but found out that h2 was only available two of the three nights we were going to be in Sonoma. We went ahead and booked those first two nights and I then proceeded to research other hotels throughout Sonoma County for our final night in the area. While most of my research was pointed in other towns of Sonoma County, I kept coming back to Hotel Healdsburg, h2’s sister hotel located just down the street. In the end we decided it’d be rather fun to get a feel for both properties, comparing what seemed to be two vastly different hotel experiences.
As soon as we dropped our bags in our room at h2 and had a look around, we understood exactly what Rachel & John were talking about – the hotel really was everything they’d said it would be. With an appreciation for all things minimal & modern, Michael and I found the room to be absolutely perfect. We loved the bright, crisp interior and the warm wooden accents, not to mention the Heath Ceramics tile in the bathroom. We had a fantastic dinner at Spoonbar, the hotel’s restaurant & bar, where breakfast is also served each morning. (Thanks to the brightly colored Eames-inspired bar stools, I was one happy photographer as I snapped the photos below.) On our last morning at h2 we took the hotel bikes out for a spin in a nearby residential neighborhood and, big surprise, picked out no less than 10 homes where we could imagine ourselves living. When the time came for us to check out of h2, I wasn’t in the least bit sad because I’m absolutely positive we’ll be back… hopefully again and again!
The benefit of staying at two hotels during one trip is you get to experience that initial thrill of excitement upon checking in a second time. Where we were instantly taken with h2’s bright, minimal guest rooms, we were just as drawn to the beautiful, lush grounds of Hotel Healdsburg. The entire property exuded such a lovely, soothing feeling that I didn’t want our time there to end. I marveled at the soft mid-afternoon light by the pool, shaded overhead by olive trees nonetheless, and could have spent hours out there reading on the chaises. Our room at Hotel Healdsburg was quite spacious, yet cozy & comforting at the same time. A tasty breakfast the next morning by the hotel’s fireplace certainly cheered us up on what was our last morning in Healdsburg. We bade farewell to the friendly staff who’d made our short visit so sweet and began plotting our return trip to Healdsburg on our ride down to the airport.
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