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The Inn at Woodstock Hill: Classic New England Atmosphere in Beautiful Northeastern Connecticut

Many vacation spots purport to offer true relaxation, but upon closer inspection impede the promise with myriad outlet stores, souvenir shops, heavy traffic akin to the kind you were trying to ecsape, and trendy restaurants offering lots of attitude and very little food.

The Inn at Woodstock Hill, in Northeastern Connecticut's pristine town of Woodstock, avoids these modern day tourist trappings by just being itself. And, in turn, you can be yourself. Beautifuly situated in the gentle rolling hills of a town center with no traffic, gas stations and few stores, The Inn at Woodstock Hill is like meeting that special, once-in-a-lifetime love--once you meet this romantic vacation destiny, you're sure to return again and again.

Around the corner from the bustling downtown complete with a produce stand, a church and colonial homes (the town's idea of a strip mall are rows of apple orchards), the placid Inn at Woodstock Hill could convince the most hardcore business executive to slow down, breathe in the untouched air, and marvel at the old and wise tall trees. First, consider the nice, warm people who make the Inn at Woodstock Hill such a special place. They just don't tell you to have a nice time, but actually are part of that experience with nice conversation and a graciousness only known in a previous New England era. They make you feel like a part of their lives, and that is truly rare in this one-hour, fast food, drive-through society in which we live.

The Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, stands majestically on Plain Hill. Built in 1816, the Inn largely consists of a Federal/Georgian style mansion with a carriage house and two barns. Later additions were built in the last half of the 19th century. In 1927, a caretaker's cottage, with three guestrooms, was built.

Everything you see here is truly beautiful, the prototype for an elegant country inn. As you drive up the circular entrance drive, you see the manicured gardens and know that you are in for a special treat. Upon entering the remarkably renovated inn, the warmth of classical archways draw you deeper into the heart of the stately establishment, to the reception desk. Surrounded by floral wall and window treatments and scattered, but well-placed thriving plants reminiscent of your grandmother's house, you are suddenly feeling more relaxed and begin eyeing the comfortable-looking seating in the sitting rooms, lined by shelves of old classics (and also a children's literature section) and newer releases.

The Inn at Woodstock Hill offers 22 beautiful rooms. We recently had the honor of staying in a room with a strikingly charming 20 foot high ceiling, antique and period reproductions and a four poster canopy king sized bed. Big windows provided wonderful views of the open land and hills beautifully framing the backyard. We later realized that modern amenities also existed such as cable television, videos, a telephone and computer jack, but none of that interested us much. We were strictly interested in doing nothing, which is ultimately everything.

So comfortable was our nap that we almost forgot about our dinner reservations downstairs at what turned out to be a truly remarkable restaurant. We walked down the elegant red carpeted, curved staircase (which was wrapped in tulle, with just the right amount of ivy and floral accents to make you feel as if you were royalty floating down to meet your subjects) straight to a charming little dining room with candlelight, a fireplace and old world furnishings. This was the smaller dining room which was long on warmth, ambience and an incredibly fine menu. We devoured some crab cakes, as good as anything we've had in Maryland. The caesar salad mixed fresh dark greens with a "just right" dressing. After finishing some wonderfully warm homemade bread, we then fell in love with the irresistablly tender and tasty Long Island duckling with a brandied lingonberry glaze. The New York sirloin steak had perhaps a little too much pepper, but that was no problem, as the quality of the steak rivaled the best steak houses in New England. For dessert, we sampled a fallen chocolate cake, which we had instantly fallen for. Not in recent memory had we tasted such a rich, yet airy chocolate, with just the right amount of raspberry sauce, ultimately designed to finish within seconds because of its incredible taste.

After dinner, we walked off some of the food by experiencing the other rooms at the Inn. The main living room has yet more stunning period furnishings, a roaring fireplace, classic hardwood floors and large, open windows to view those rolling hills beyond scenic Route 169. The main dining room is like a larger version of the smaller dining room, but probably more reminiscent of an old world hotel dining room. Candlelight, soft music, polished silver, beautiful crystal and fine linen are just a few of the touches, which complement the superb food.

Before retiring for the evening, we chatted for a while with a manager who told us of the virtues of the Woodstock area, also known as part of the "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut. He, as well, as other Inn personnel are either happy transplants or lifelong residents. It was touching to hear someone speak from the heart on the place they have chosen to live, instead of uttering cookie cutter promotional talk. Just like the leisurely look of the Inn, the personnel talks in a most relaxed and friendly tone. You never feel an aura of pretentiousness, which could be the case at such an elegant, historical setting.

We slept so well that night in one of the most comfortable beds known to us. Refreshed the next morning, we walked down that memorable staircase one more time to have a fine continental breakfast, with fresh fruit, muffins and bread serving as quality offerings.

We then rested a little more in our room, hesitatingly signed out, and promised to come back soon. Traveling home on scenic Route 169 -- one of the most beautiful bucolic drives in New England -- gave us some great last memories of this underrated region, but in our minds, we wanted to turn around and head back to the Inn at Woodstock Hill. Just hours after leaving the Inn, we missed it greatly, indeed like meeting that special someone for the first time, and then eagerly awaiting that second date. We can hardly wait for that second date, with an eye to commit ourselves, forever, to frequenting this classic New England inn.

The Inn at Woodstock Hill, 94 Plaine Hill Road,Woodstock, CT 06281-2912. Phone: (860) 928-0528

Visiting New England.com (http://www.visitingnewengland.com) is a lively travel and vacation web site, focusing on travel essays, reviews, resources and gift ideas. From dining and lodging to discovering the best tourist destinations (well known and hidden gems), Visiting New England.com is written by native New Englanders, having an inside scoop on the wonderful six state region.

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