The former country estate of author Sinclair Lewis and his journalist wife Dorothy Thompson, Vermont’s Twin Farms hotel is a rustic-luxe haven dotting 300 pine-flecked acres, with 20 romance-reviving suites and an eye-popping collection of world-class artwork. This natural sanctuary seduces with loads of outdoor pursuits –guest-only ski runs, hiking trails and a private pond – and further charms with nothing-is-too-much service and award-winning dining.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 4pm, however, contact the hotel if arriving early and they’ll arrange lunch or afternoon tea for you.
Double rooms from £3011.30 ($4,200), including tax at 9.1 per cent.
Rates include all meals, drinks and on-site activities.
Individuality comes at a cost, and no expense was spared to achieve the one-of-a-kind design and architecture at Twin Farms. There are the wildly creative interiors imagined by designer Jed Johnson, sleek cottages from architect Peter Bohlin and walls adorned with pieces by David Hockney, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein, to name-drop a few.
At the hotel
300 wooded acres, fitness centre, spa, six private downhill ski trails, ice skating rink, tennis courts, croquet, bocce, a library stocked with chess, checkers, puzzles, books and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, tea and coffee service, minibar and Versante bath products.
Our favourite rooms
No matter the suite or cottage, you’ll be whisked away to a fantasy world in the woods: 1930s New York, golden Tuscany, tranquil Japan or the bazaars of Morocco. All rooms are accented with expertly-thrifted antiques and original artwork by the likes of Ed Ruscha and Cy Twombly. However, for the ultimate in seclusion, sneak away to one of the 10 stand-alone cottages. The Aviary is a mod, two-storey stunner of glass, steel and cedar and has a stone hot tub set in front of the fireplace in the sleek bedroom, and trad-leaning guests will fall for the Log Cabin, an authentic 19th century Appalachian home moved to the farm and kitted out with mod cons, of course.
There’s no pool per se, but it’s hard to resist a dip in Cooper Pond on a steamy summer day.
As if the surroundings weren’t relaxing enough, sink even deeper into your laid-back state of bliss with a detoxifying body wrap or signature massage in your suite or at the Bridge House Spa. The spa has two treatment rooms, glass-brick steam rooms and a Japanese furo bath where you can request a private soak for two (swimsuits optional).
Leave the sporting gear behind: fishing rods, tennis racquets, ice skates and snowshoes are all on loan for guests. Also, free same-day laundry service will help you keep luggage down to your favourite weekender bag.
If you don’t go in for kayaking, cycling, skiing or other outdoor pursuits on offer, a private yoga instructor or personal trainer is available for hire.
Reserve the intimate and cave-like wine cellar for a private candlelit dinner a deux.
Think relaxed, yet sporty chic: tweeds and plaids or crisp cottons and linens depending on the season.
Chef Nathan Rich draws inspiration for his changing menus from locally-raised meat and seasonal produce; many of the herbs and vegetables are grown just steps from the kitchen in the chef’s organic garden. Depending on the time of year, you might nibble on poached Maine lobster for lunch or feast on Cavendish quail and ginger apple slaw or thick beef tenderloin with bone marrow butter for dinner. No matter the dish, every meal will be expertly paired with world-class wines from the farm’s cellar (boasting one of the largest private collections in the country). Where you take your meals is entirely up to you: in the rustic, yet elegant Main House dining room, packed up in a hamper for a picnic by the pond or on top of the ski hill or fireside in your suite.
Drop by the cosy wood-panelled pub for a pint of local Long Trail Ale as you spin tunes on the jukebox or go in for a friendly game of billiards or darts.
Breakfast is served 7am–10:30am; lunch is available from 12:30pm–1:30pm; dinner is served 6:30pm– 8:00pm. Pop by the pub from noon–11pm.
Room service is available 7am– 10pm, with a limited butler’s menu of small bites, sandwiches and salads served 10pm–7am.
Twin Farms is perched on 300 rolling wooded acres just outside the town of Barnard in central Vermont. It’s roughly a three-hour drive from Boston and a five-hour trip from New York City.
Vermont’s Burlington International Airport (www.burlingtonintlairport.com) is 90 minutes from the hotel by car with direct service from many major US airports and connections to international destinations.
You may not want to stray far from the farm once settled in, but a car is handy for exploring natural areas and the quaint towns nearby. There’s free on-site parking for hotel guests and each cottage has a private carport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Nestled on several hundred woodland-thick acres in central Vermont, Twin Farms is a wonderland for nature-lovers in any season. Get your heart racing on mountain-bike ride on the surrounding trails or on a 10-mile cruise to nearby Woodstock. Hike or head out for a run on the property’s miles of groomed trails and hills. Challenge your partner to a game of tennis on the farm’s court. Copper Pond is perfect for a swim or a romantic canoe ride, and it’s fully stocked with fish for anglers, too. In winter, take as many runs as you’d like on one of the six private downhill ski trails or opt to make your way down hill on a toboggan sled. Take to the trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes and work up your appetite for a hot cocoa (or hot toddy) after a few spins around the ice skating rink.
Golfers will want to reserve a tee-time at either the 36-hole Quechee Club golf course or the Robert Trent Jones-designed Woodstock Inn and Resort golf course. Both course are 20-30 minutes from the hotel.
Snow bunnies desiring to sample local downhill slopes can make their way to the Suicide Six Ski Area in Woodstock. Don’t be put off by the daredevil name; you’ll find 23 groomed trails for every level of skier.
My Valentine’s Day tradition with Mr Smith for six years running has involved treating myself to buffalo wings at a sports bar. It is just our flavour of romance: drenched in blue cheese. This year, we decided there was no harm in mixing it up with something slightly more, well, refined. So we booked a long weekend at the notoriously romantic boutique hotel Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont. Shortly after arrival, our host told me that he lived down the road with his wife and their twin boys, and winkingly suggested we ought to be careful during our stay. I’ll admit to being slow on the uptake — my husband had to explain the joke to me. (Twins. Twin farms. Romance. Right, right…)
But, I’m getting ahead of myself here, as there was more to our welcome than slightly cheesy humour. Behold, the team at this tucked-away woodland fantasy of a resort has managed to eliminate what I believe to be one of the most under-recognised but overly-awful aspects of hotel stays: checking in and out. After driving along winding roads, under a lush canopy of alpine greenery, well beyond cellphone service — thank God for our old-fashioned paper map — we pulled up to the sprawling property where a friendly member of staff (who, yes, would later reveal himself to be an amateur comedian) greeted us. He instructed us to leave our luggage and keys in the car, and whisked us off through the main house, a lodge-like building where fireplaces were roaring, the art was very expensive, and the dining room was appealingly high-ceilinged. Comedian concierge left our side for a moment to pull a car around front; moments later we were settling into the heated back seats of a BMW cruising across the grounds, while getting a rundown of how the hotel works. It’s a simple concept really: Guests dial 125 from any phone on the property, tell the person on the other end of the line what they’re in the market for — a snack, a ski, more wood for the fire — and it will be made so.
These brief instructions were followed by a narrated tour of the hotel’s highlights: a zillion miles of trails, 10 uniquely-themed and individually-decorated cottages, one spa, one pub, and, naturally, one Japanese soaking tub. Finally, the ride ended at our cottage, where both our car and luggage (which we’d forgotten about) had been tucked into their respective places. This process repeated itself in reverse on our departure: we trotted off to lunch, our bags and car left behind, and both magically resurfaced outside the main house when we were ready to go. It may seem simple, but the worst part of any good hotel stay is, unequivocally, check-in, where after hours of travel, you drag your heavy suitcases out of a vehicle, hand over your credit card, and deal with paperwork. Same goes for the reverse process, which is an insult added to the injury of your vacation ending. That Twin Farms does away with this experience entirely is a subtle but mighty stroke of genius.
While we were hard-pressed to leave our cottage at all during our stay — heck, we were hard-pressed to leave the tub — we found ourselves inspired to do so for two reasons: food and exercise. (Though clearly, the vibes of this place are meant to encourage you to do much of the latter without ever leaving bed.) Among the many (outdoor!) wintertime activities on offer is sledding, which is a bit of a misnomer in this instance. Surely, there must be a more apt term for being escorted up a massive hill (or tiny mountain, depending on how you look at it) via snowmobile, then careening down on your stomach, boogie-board style, at such frighteningly fast speeds that you’re required to wear a helmet in order to participate? It’s terrifying, it’s addictive, it has very little resemblance to anything I did as a child. And don’t worry: not being forced to climb back up the hill after every run does not, as it turns out, take the charm out of it. To regain our bearings at a more geriatric pace we opted for snowshoeing, a sport which is very similar to walking, but because it requires equipment, it imparts a unique, if unwarranted, sense of pride. Cross-country or downhill skiing are other options for exploring the lands in a less adrenaline-filled manner.
And, finally, the food. (Also, for the record, available without leaving your cottage.) Much was made of the various delightful snacks available to us if only we’d dial 125 and say so, though finding an appetite in between three gargantuan meals a day was a laughable thought. Twin Farms is not big on menus. With the exception of breakfast, where things called soufflé pancakes upstage even the freshest farm eggs and recently-churned Vermont butter, everything is chef’s choice. And the chef chose to feed us many complex and intricately-plated courses at each seating, all accompanied by recommended wine pairings from the house sommelier.
We did get a taste of the much-hyped snack programme during the pre-dinner cocktail hour at the main house, where we experienced what was, to be honest, really remarkable home-made popcorn, and had the opportunity to socialise with fellow guests, many of whom have been returning to the resort annually for upwards of 20 years. (None of whom mentioned twin children, for the record.) We returned home hoping to grow up to be just like our new friends — wise enough to return to Twin Farms year after year, and blessed enough to have one child at a time.