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The Inn at Thorn Hill for White Mountain Luxuries
When we heard that Katey Brothers and Steve Lambert had bought the Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson, NH, we knew they’d do great things with it. We remembered the convivial atmosphere and delicious breakfasts at their Bernerhof Inn in nearby Bartlett, where we’d stayed for a ski weekend, and couldn’t wait to visit their newest venture.
We were barely out of the car and opening the trunk when help appeared. It’s rare for a small country inn to have a bellman, but this capable young man not only carried our luggage up the steps, but also to our suite, where he gave us a “tour” and showed us how to use the gas fireplace between the two rooms.
We were traveling with teen-age Mary, who immediately spotted the Alexa and said “Alexa, tell a joke” – we alternately giggled and groaned at the results as we hung up our coats and unpacked. Both rooms were spacious, even with the sofa in the sitting room pulled out to make a queen-size bed for Mary, there was plenty of room to walk around or sit in the big armchair to read.
The king bed in our room left plenty of space around it for two upholstered arm chairs, a desk, large nightstands at each side of the bed (with lights at a good height for bedtime reading) and a wardrobe closet. Inside it we found two luggage racks, removable hangers, an ironing board and iron. Hanging behind the door in the huge bathroom (we’ve stayed in double rooms that were smaller) were three deliciously soft sateen bathrobes lined with sheered terry.
Along with a large double Jacuzzi, the bathroom had a double-sized shower, a wide vanity with plenty of surface and three complete sets of Gilchrist & Soames amenities – in the larger-sized bottles. Beside the large wall mirror was an adjustable make-up mirror, and a handy settee provided a place for clothes or to sit while drying off with the fluffy towels. In our suite and throughout the inn rooms are finished with nice decorative details including deep moldings and carved mantels. The heating/cooling system, we discovered as we sank into our choice of pillow later, is completely silent.
It was still a little early for dinner, so we went downstairs to the large sitting room and adjoining lounge, where Tim and Mary found two comfortable chairs facing off across a game table that converts instantly from a chess board to a scrabble board. They played and I kibitzed until Steve asked me if I’d like a tour of the spa and wine cellar.
The Inn at Thorn Hill, I discovered, is a lot bigger than it looks, with a beautifully appointed spa hidden downstairs, along with a fitness room and redwood sauna. In the original granite cellar under the dining room is the wine cellar, and adjoining it is the stone-lined Granite Room, where small dinner parties have a full view of artfully lighted racks of bottles from the world’s premier wine-growing regions.
Along with the comfort of its beds and warmth of its hospitality, I judge inns by the food they serve. The dinner menu was promising indeed. We began with salads – a Caesar and the Thorn Hill Salad with nectarines and goat cheese. Mary chose Burnt Ends, tender mesquite-tinged brisket bites with a slaw of celeriac and carrots. Good start.
For entrees, Mary and I each chose one of the day’s specials. Her baked haddock was finished in a creamy shrimp sauce so tasty that she wished there’s have been more of it to eat with the accompanying basmati rice. My really rare (the way I like it) pan-roasted half-rack of lamb was served with mashed potatoes surrounded by a puree of minted peas. Tim selected Jaeger schnitzel, tender veal in a rich dark mushroom sauce, served over spaetzle.
While Mary opted (as usual) for cheesecake drizzled in berries, Tim and I shared a lovely cannoli. Inside the crisp tasty shell, the creamy filling was redolent of mascarpone. It looked as good as it tasted, served with one end lying in a mound of chopped pistachio nuts while the other was sprinkled with white chocolate nuggets. I’d have preferred dark chocolate as a foil to the mascarpone, but that’s a personal preference.
The next morning’s breakfast was just as tasty, and mine began with a china pot of tea made with Tea Forte silk teabags. The day’s specials were Eggs Benedict with spinach or “Eagles’ Nests”. As our server described them, we all said at the same time “Toad in a Hole!” And indeed it was the popular English breakfast dish of eggs dropped into a cut-out circle in a slice of bread before frying the lot. It was the first time we’d seen it on a breakfast menu here, so we all immediately ordered it. And were glad we did.
We were also glad we’d driven north to stay at The Inn at Thorn Hill. It was everything we’d hoped for.
Content copyright © 2015 by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers. All rights reserved.
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