The Hermitage Inn, our fourth inn and the catalyst for a vexing habit I’ve found myself adopting… procrastination. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the, “I just don’t have time” and “that can wait until tomorrow,” mantra. All of the things that get in the way of being productive: exercising, family, the holidays, eating, working, napping, shopping, cleaning the house, painting one’s nails, daydreaming, watching the golden globes… So I sit down after far too much evading the topic to write this post, something I have actually been excited about writing since I got in the car to head home. Perhaps my procrastination is simply a vice I will have to embrace and slowly attempt to subdue like a petulant child. Or possibly future posts will have a suspiciously Greg-sounding spin.
The Hermitage Inn’s original structure dates back to 1842, a time when it was still a private farmhouse. Over the years the property changed hands several times as historic properties tend to do and ultimately fell into the hands of James McGovern, an avid hunter, wine enthusiast and occasional art collector with an affinity for Michel Delacroix prints. The inn’s walls are still very much covered in the prints, an interesting conversation piece if you find yourself suffering through a particularly stuffy dinner in the formal dining room. Aside from the plentiful artwork the inn has multiple other attractions including beautifully maintained hiking trails, ice skating, tubing or skiing nearby. Unfortunately for us, we were too early in the season for the winter sports, but we admired the tubing hill as we headed into woods for a lovely hike through the trails. We also missed out on the spa during our stay, a move I regretted after our hike.
We stayed in the Meadows room of the Carriage House, a plan I ultimately thought would give us a quieter more relaxed stay away from the buzz of the main inn. The Carriage house is beautifully adorned with charming rustic furniture, artwork and interior finishing even boasting a quaint common room on the first floor.
Our room was very well appointed with a warm fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and cozy bedding, perfect for snuggling. Unfortunately the expense in updating and furnishing the structure was definitely spent primarily on aesthetics and country detail instead of insulation and soundproofing. We felt like we got to know the noisy extended family staying in the other rooms of the carriage house quite intimately.
The food and dining at the Hermitage created the most polar opinions when compared with all other aspects of our stay. When I called initially to make our room reservation I was asked to make the dinner reservations as well; I chose the bar given that the menu was quite similar to the dinning room and about a third of the price. When we arrived for our 7 o’clock dinner reservation we had trouble getting the attention of anyone in the crowded bar or reception area to “check in” for a table. The maître d’, we finally found out, has a small stand inside the main dining room, tucked around the wall down a narrow hallway behind both the bar and front desk for the inn. Perhaps not the best location?
When we finally found the maître d’ he explained that we must be confused because our reservation was made for the formal dining room and the bar was tightly packed and on a wait. (On a side note, I still have the e-mail confirmation sent to me for the room and the dinner reservation, in the bar) We were feeling “on vacation” however, and preferred to avoid being difficult so we conceded and sat down in the formal dining room. Our server was a nice blend of pleasant and attentive without being irritating. The dining room was a muted hum of conversation with each of the tables spaced just enough to make a conversation private. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with Michel Delacroix artwork and miscellaneous other adornments, in addition guests sat in large armchairs at each table giving the space a feeling of an eccentric aunt’s or colorful grandparent’s winter living room.
We enjoyed a delicious meal of new york strip steak and roasted local quail accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. The food itself was delicious, unfortunately we didn’t save room for desert or pay much attention to the prices. We ended up paying more than twice our planned budget for dinner. In the end we decided it was almost a wash; it was our own fault that we had not insisted that we be sat in the bar as planned and had not paid particular attention to the prices on the menu. We could have easily split a meal, enjoyed desert and left feeling a little less corpulent and destitute. In any event it was a lesson learned.
Overall I think we found the Hermitage to be a very pleasant and comfortable little inn, tucked away in the cozy mountains of Dover, VT. For future stays I believe we would book a room on an upper floor of the wine wing (perhaps the walls are not so thin), stay for a bit longer, hike the trails more thoroughly and stand by our plan for affordable food. I would also do a better job of researching a local market with true Vermont Cheddar Cheese, instead of simply hoping that we pass by one on our drive to or from the Inn (fail). We plan to head back to Vermont again in time and certainly have the Hermitage on our list of repeatable adventures.