The Belfry Inn on Cape Cod

The Belfry Inn on Cape Cod
The Belfry Inn in Sandwich, Massachusetts, began life as a Catholic church, and its conversion into an inn respects that legacy by retaining the architectural features including beautiful carved oak paneling and stained-glass windows.

The large round stained-glass window in the façade forms a dramatic backdrop to the king-sized bed in the Tuesday Room, one of six that line a gallery above the former church’s nave. Each of these deluxe rooms is named for a day of the week (a nod to the Book of Genesis), and at the end, in the former choir loft, is a comfortable guest sitting room.

These rooms feature vaulted ceilings and skylights, as well as whirlpool double bathtubs; most have balconies and some have gas fireplaces. Each is individually decorated in keeping with its architecture, and several of the beds have church pew headboards. These rooms are in the church building, known as The Abbey, which is also the location of the Belfry Inn Bistro.

This fine-dining restaurant, which also serves as the breakfast room for inn guests, is in the main church area, with soaring ceilings, oak woodwork and stained-glass windows. For all this, it seems an intimate dining room, with well-spaced tables. We had breakfast there the next morning, with a choice of four cooked-to-order entrees that included a generously filled omelet and crisp waffles.

The Victorian house next door, known as The Painted Lady, has more guest rooms, each decorated in a tailored period style, blessedly free of the ruffles and frills affected by many restored Victorian inns.

Our room there had blue-gray walls and white trim, and a queen-sized spool bed dressed in a soft white comforter. A double whirlpool tub was built into an alcove and there were two comfortable chairs, plus an upholstered bench for luggage. The bedside tables each had a reading light. Each room is decorated differently, some with the white and pastels of a summer cottage, others with Oriental rugs and antiques.

Throughout the inn, are original paintings, many of them by the owner’s mother, who has a talent for catching the ocean and surf in its many moods.

We had dinner that evening in the Next Door Burger Bar, which occupies the first floor of The Painted Lady (we feared that the sounds might drift upstairs to our room, but they didn’t). We loved the little restaurant’s warm, informal atmosphere and the choices of burgers. We chose the “Over the Bridge” – their 8-ounce signature with Vermont Cheddar, tomato, arugula and red onion on toasted brioche – and the New Mexico green chili burger with roasted green chilies and pepper jack cheese. The fries were exceptional.

The Belfry Inn is within walking distance of the Sandwich Glass Museum, where we saw a fascinating glassblowing demonstration, and a short drive from the Heritage Museum and Gardens. This multi-faceted museum and garden complex combines collection of antique and vintage cars, a fully operating antique carousel that I couldn’t resist riding on, collections of American folk art and antiques and acres of beautiful gardens.

Sandwich is a good base for visiting western and central Cape Cod, a beautiful area of attractive old villages with historic houses to tour, trails to walk and beaches that are less crowded than those farther along the Cape. And The Belfry Inn & Bistro is a good base in Sandwich.

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