Nestled like a New England gem in the manicured 58-acre folds in Washington, CT is the stately Mayflower Grace Hotel, known for both its service and world-class spa.
It was fall when I arrived and every tree, including the fragrant cedar that seemed to want to make its way into the hotel living room, had a few leaves that looked as though they were on fire.
The former private boy’s school has shed its PG-13 airs and lends a warm welcome to every guest with Champagne and mini macaroons, freshly baked on the premises. But the journey from New York City is more glamorous than tiresome: a two-hour car ride past apple farms and Victorian homes will guide you towards the preppy Relais & Châteaux sanctuary, modernized for guests. The 15-room hotel is now in capable management hands of Grace Hotels following the success of its Rhode Island property.
Stone steps lead towards cottages set on a gentle slope, one of which (Standish) I stayed in. Outside my room window, I could make out the hedges hugging the Poetry Maze, a graveled labyrinth studded with plaques bearing quotes by American poets from Whitman to Dickinson.
Rooms are decorated to preserve the feel of the past (slouchy leather armchairs, carefully-selected antiques) but also modernized for the iPhone-bearing guest; there are electric fireplaces that can safely crackle through the night. My four-poster bed was hand-painted, with beautiful vines encircling the dark wood.
This is a place that feels cherished, and wants to cherish you.