Autumn in New England—there’s no better time of year to head north to New Hampshire, where leaf peeping is prime. And if that is the plan, then the Hanover Inn at Dartmouth should be part of the itinerary.
As with all historic hotels, this inn comes with a labyrinthine story: In 1780, General Ebenezer Brewster turned his private home into a public tavern. Its booming popularity led to its eventual relocation, leaving in its stead a site on which to build a larger structure—the original Dartmouth Hotel. Housing permanent residents as well as temporary guests, the hotel was said to be an “architectural conglomeration” that many were not sad to see succumb to fire in 1782. It was re-built as the Wheelock Hotel, which by 1903 had changed so much it was renamed the Hanover Inn. An east wing was added in 1924, followed in 1939 by an exterior expansion, and a west wing in 1968. Today, the neo-Georgian-style inn houses 108 rooms overlooking Dartmouth College’s campus green. (A recent $43 million renovation transformed the inn into a AAA Four Diamond hotel offering collegiate amenities in a boutique setting.)
The newly added, instantly buzzy PINE restaurant from chef-restaurateur Michael Schlow brings bright, clean flavors from farm to table. True to its name, the décor features pine wood accents with a rustic chic vibe; natural light floods the place by day, while evening meals feel intimate despite the restaurant’s large size. Sophisticated sprays of florals cast an artistic note, and alfresco sidewalk dining affords a great vantage point from which to watch the always-teeming town.
The very essence of PINE is about season-fresh ingredients from local vendors. To start, be sure to sample chef Justin Dain’s house-made ricotta crostini with truffle honey and black pepper, as well as the steak tartare and Fresh Roots farm greens. For a main course, the pistachio-crusted lamb loin, paired with a fine Bordeaux, is an absolute delight. The menu changes regularly, but rest assured, whatever is offered this fall is sure to please. As a side note: The inn’s green initiatives include composting leftovers, which are used by The Dartmouth Organic Farm as well as other local businesses to nourish the produce and herbs served in the restaurant.
Named by Business Insider as the No. 1 college town in America, Hanover is a fantastic place to spend a long weekend. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do. Grab a dark roast and baked goodie at the Dirt Cowboy café across from the inn or hunker down for a full breakfast at adjacent Lou’s. Day excursions might include a trip to nearby Mount Sunapee State Park, where outdoor adventure seekers will find plenty of trails on which to romp. Likewise, hop on the Appalachian Trail for an afternoon, which is easily done as it bisects the town—in fact, it is quite common to see long-haul hikers striding across the college green. Or float down the Connecticut River—just a hop, skip, and a jump away—in a kayak or canoe. Golfers will appreciate the bucolic 18-hole championship course at Hanover Country Club.
Foodies should take advantage of Ariana’s in Orford, where wine dinners and cooking classes are held in the restaurant on Bunten Farm. And an absolute must is King Arthur’s Flour in Norwich, Vermont—just a short distance away and a lovely drive that will have you crossing the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge; spanning the Connecticut River, it is both a historical and architectural marvel. Take a baking class with one of King Arthur’s staff instructors and learn the secret to making light and puffy scones, mouth-puckering summer tarts, rustic flatbreads, or sourdough bread—there are many classes to choose from and each is highly informative and loads of fun. Be sure to have a nice lunch in the café and browse the shop shelves. (The whole place hums with a shared passion for artisan baking.)
Then, of course, there’s the Dartmouth Bookstore and café and Left Bank Books, which carries an eclectic selection of used and out-of-print books. Do not leave without having visited the school’s Hood Museum of Art, which adjoins the inn and exhibits 10 new shows per year in addition to its renowned permanent collection. (Check to see if there is a special tour happening—they are a real treat and foster a greater appreciation for the museum’s unique role on campus.) Finally, before getting on the road for home, enjoy a treatment at The European Face and Body Studio, the inn’s spa partner.
In short, if you appreciate natural beauty, fine dining, outdoor adventures, intellectual pursuits, and a bit of pampering, you will thoroughly enjoy a stay at the Hanover Inn. hanoverinn.com, pineathanoverinn.com