A Room with a View - Darby Field Inn

A Room with a View - Darby Field Inn
Views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains are no novelty to me – I grew up hiking among them – but they never cease to delight me. So the cone-shaped profile of Moat Mountain’s south peak framed in the wide picture window of my room at Darby Field Inn put the finishing touch on our weekend there.

We’d come on a whim, a last-minute decision to get in a couple of bonus days of skiing while the snow lasted, and we chose the Darby Field Inn because it was well located between two of our favorite mountains – Cranmore in North Conway and King Pine in Madison. It didn’t hurt that we’d been told about the inn’s excellent dining room.

The inn is in a secluded setting, on a hillside almost surrounded by protected landscapes and woodlands of the White Mountain National Forest, which covers most of the town of Albany. Two four-season trail systems converge almost at their back door, and other guests were just retuning on cross-country skis as we arrived.

Our corner room, the Mt. Washington Suite, was bright and spacious, with a cozy sitting room where two comfortable armchairs faced a large gas fireplace. Each had a good reading light and invited curling up with a good book before dinner. The double-sided fireplace also opened onto a double Jacuzzi in the bathroom, which would be very enticing after a day skiing.

The décor was restrained and tasteful, with floral, but unfussy wallpaper in cream and shades of red that were echoed in a cranberry-colored down comforter across the foot of the king-sized bed. The large closet had plenty of hanging space, handy shelves and two luggage racks, a detail missing in so many hotels (do most couples share one suitcase?)

Downstairs we found a lovely large sitting room with a giant stone fireplace and two comfortable seating areas with leather sofas and chairs. At one side was the large breakfast room overlooking the same view of Moat Mountain, and the more cozy Littlefield Tavern, with a bar and dining area. Surrounded on two sides by glass, this space had the feel of a terrace, overlooking a snow-covered cedar tree and gardens.

These were lighted at night as we ate dinner in the Littlefield Tavern. The menu offered duck, filet mignon, rack of lamb, pork loin and butternut squash ravioli, and I chose the rack of lamb. It was cooked rare, just as I had requested, nicely crusted in panko and served with roasted potatoes, carrots and broccoli. The ravioli were served in a tomato-based sauce. The atmosphere in the dining room was relaxed and gracious, like the rest of the inn.

It wasn’t until we saw the large breakfast room in morning light that we realized it was also an art gallery displaying some excellent local paintings on its walls. The innkeepers like to showcase local talent – which is considerable – and all the art, largely works in watercolor, is for sale. Between the glass wall of mountain scenery and the art, we had plenty to look at as we waited for our cooked-to-order breakfast. Mine started with a good-sized pot of tea and a cup of fresh-cut fruit, followed by a perfectly poached egg over thick-cut whole wheat toast – all the bread is baked in-house. It was so good I had a second slice slathered with strawberry jam.

As we ate, the sun bathed Moat Mountain in light, and in the background, the summit of Mt Washington appeared and disappeared again in wind-blown clouds. This was our first visit to Darby Field Inn, and now that we’ve been there we want to go back to see it when the fields are green instead of white and the inn’s flower gardens are in full bloom.

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