New Hampshire’s Inn on Newfound Lake blends 19th-century charm with serious 21st-century wattage.Photo Credit : Kim Knox Beckius
You could hire a chef, an interior designer, and a squad of elves and still not create a holiday haven that compares to these decked-out B&Bs. Their owners’ passion for Yuletide celebrating borders on obsession. And each inn welcomes you into a community where the spirit of the season shines bright.
Christmas begins in early October for innkeepers Larry DeLangis and Phelps Boyce, two Beverly Hills escapees who go Tinseltown when the holiday season rolls around. It takes weeks to deck the mantels, trees, and chandeliers; to set the holiday carnival train scene in motion; to transform this Victorian inn and restaurant into Christmas-cheer central. When the most believable Santa that kids will ever see pops up for breakfast (December 17), it’s magic. But the ultimate sorcery happens at dusk from Thanksgiving through early January, when the 40,000-plus lights wrapped around this lakeside landmark burst into life. The exact bulb count is top secret; donate $1 to help feed local families, and you can guess for a chance to win dining prizes. 603-744-9111; newfoundlake.com
Santa hats on chairbacks, a twinkly tree, fluffy wreaths in greenhouse-style windows—Saint Nick’s personal designer could not fashion a lovelier setting for a holiday high tea. Make reservations to savor this seasonal treat, whether you’re overnighting in a fireplace-equipped guest room at this 1839 clipper ship captain’s home or day-tripping to hunt for gifts in Chatham’s singular shops. Owners Jill and James Meyer close their inn briefly at Christmas to celebrate family traditions as dear to them as the town’s annual Christmas by the Sea Stroll (December 8–9) is to residents. Then it reopens to delight food-loving revelers who arrive for First Night, when fireworks and midnight’s Countdown Cod drop welcome a new year. 508-945-0127; captainshouseinn.com
When Frank Isganitis and PJ Walter bought this turreted Victorian in 2004, they owned one nutcracker. Now, about 180 of these decorative figures march out to greet their guests each holiday season. From German Steinbach treasures to drugstore after-Christmas-sale steals, they’re organized by theme on mantels, coffee tables, door frames, and more. Stay during the Festival of Lights weekend (November 24–25), and you can help hang dozens of nutcracker ornaments on the fresh-cut tree—just in time for Saturday’s tour of historic inns. Book a getaway package, and you’ll feel part of this giving-spirited community from the moment you check in: The inn provides you with canned goods to use in voting for favorite floats in Saturday night’s illuminated parade. 207-594-2257; limerockinn.com
It’s not the promise of presents under the tree that gets grown-ups out of bed and bounding downstairs. It’s the aroma of Connecticut-smoked Nodine’s bacon and the turnovers and yeasted coffee cakes crafted by pastry chef and innkeeper Michael Hafford, all served fireside in this 19th-century home’s dining room. You’re steps from downtown Madison’s evergreen-dressed shops and two miles from a restorative walk on the beach. Then it’s back to the cozy company of vintage Santas and your room’s holiday touches and pinecone door wreath. Can’t stay over? On December 3, an open house featuring horse-drawn carriage rides and fresh-baked goodies is the inn’s gift to the public during Madison’s annual Christmas celebration. 203-245-0550; scrantonseahorseinn.com
Join the lively conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table; tuck your presents under the tree beside the wood-burning stone fireplace. This is your holiday home away from home. Although Santa might not make a stop here, as the inn has a no-kids-under-12 policy, there are already plenty of toys: snowshoes, a pool table, puzzles, games, even Mad River Rocket sleds (a local invention). Plus, a white Christmas is practically guaranteed here in Mad River Valley ski country, where holiday greenery keeps Peter and Susan MacLaren’s farmhouse B&B looking like a Christmas card for as long as Mother Nature can provide the sparkle of snow—usually deep into March. 802-496-7162; westhillbb.com