Cozy Days & Nights In Vermont

By Melanie Carden

An abundance of hospitality and cozy farmhouse amenities awaits travelers in Manchester, Vermont. Tucked away in the Equinox Mountain Valley is Hill Farm—a stunning inn offering a 200-year legacy of farm life and just the right sprinkle of modern-day niceties. Toss a special-occasion winter sweater in your weekend tote and plan your pack list around some casual snowshoeing and long nights by the inn’s spectacular fireplace.

What once was a working dairy, now welcomes travelers to indulge in the serenity of sweeping views and misty mornings that make the barn look like a movie set. The main farmhouse has guest rooms and standalone cottages as well. The décor and amenities are beautiful little love letters to the surrounding region. Take, for instance, the sumptuous Vermont Heritage Wool Co. blanket at the foot of the bed in my room, which was the first thing I noticed when I opened the door. In short, the room is precisely what I hope for at a farm stay—a mindful approach to honoring the inn’s heritage, local makers, and absolute contentment.

Take advantage of the innkeeper’s keen eye for functional elegance; the public areas of the main farmhouse are incredibly welcoming, especially the grand fireplace. The soft seating begs you to curl up with a book and sip a hot toddy. There’s a small wood bar area, and the innkeeper—or staff—is happy to pour from their well-stocked offerings. Or grab a special bottle of wine while exploring the area and retreat to the inn for a lingering nightcap. If you’re lucky, the resident cat will meander in for a fireside snooze after a long day of mousing and farm work.

Be sure to stop by the front desk to ask if the Alpacas are in the mood for a treat, but even if they’re set for the day, it’s always nice to stop by and say hello. I enjoyed grabbing a mug of coffee and wandering over to see them in the morning before breakfast. Their cartoonish appearance is as if the Universe gifted us a wooly riff on the giraffe, and they’re utterly fabulous.

I could watch them all day, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the specialness of Hill Farm. Your stay includes a tour of the farm, which not only helps you get your bearings but also gives insight into their sustainable and regenerative practices—from the vegetable farm to the restaurant and beyond. Those looking to deepen their experience further can enroll in workshops of varying price points, exploring skills such as preserving food, butchery, and even wine tastings. 

It’s no surprise, of course, that one of the highlights of a Farm Hill stay is dinner at its farm-to-table restaurant—a lofted barn with mammoth wood-fired ovens, handcrafted cocktails, and meals that will lift your spirits for the entire winter season. The seasonal menu begins with what the chef and farmer are plucking from the gardens onsite and includes regional farms and makers. You might find pork belly and cranberry beans, puffed beef tendon, blackened celery root salad, and perfectly charred fish. The restaurant—open Thursday through Sunday—also houses an idyllic little market where you can score s’mores kits, local handicrafts, snacks, and souvenirs.

The breakfast portion of your B&B experience is served in the dining room in the main farmhouse. Innkeeper Maria presents a new pre-fixe menu each day—all made in-house and often featuring Hill Farm eggs alongside other local offerings. Always drawing inspiration from what is in season, each breakfast feels like food of love—because it is, quite frankly.

When she heard I have gluten intolerance, Innkeeper Maria prepared gluten-free muffins, and I still see the butter melting off the sides (heaven!). I was also delighted by her quinoa breakfast bake—a slab of goodness, combining a hearty quinoa crust topped with a creamy egg and cheese bake. In perfect farm fashion, it was served with lightly dressed salad greens, edible flowers, and two small but proper slabs of local bacon.

The inn has snowshoes and sleds on hand for guests, so pack a pair of base layers for some outdoor time. There are oh-so-many fire pits scattered across the property, so enjoying the crisp winter air is entirely laid back and enjoyable. Those looking for something with an adrenaline kick can ski Bromley, Stratton, or Magic Mountains, but walking or snowshoeing on the property’s Battenkill River trail is just the thing for those looking to escape the hectic to-do lists of day-to-day life.

Just a half mile or so down the road, you can choose west or east on Route 7A. Heading east will take you to a lovely menagerie of shopping options—from antiques to luxe boutiques—and all things Orvis. The brand, founded in 1856 and known for its love of the outdoors, has its flagship store, fly fishing school, and colossal outlet just six miles from Hill Farm. After shopping, stop by The Crooked Ram for a comfortable yet unforgettable meal. Again, this is a locally minded restaurant, and these folks are layering unfathomable gastronomic detail. The plates are visually sublime, and every bite delivers on that unspoken promise. Oh, and they also make the best gluten-free focaccia I’ve had so far in my extensive travels.

On the other hand, if you go west on 7A, you’ll find an eclectic mix of small mom-and-pop-style shops, including an imposing tartan store, Rablogan Castle of Scotland. Not only does this shop sell authentic, gorgeous Scottish tartan and wool goods, but the shop owners also design tartans, which are then added to the official registry of tartans. They even designed the tartan for the New York State Homeland Security & Emergency Services Fire Prevention & Control Pipe Band.

Keep driving, and you might find yourself at another of Sagra’s farm properties, Studio Hill. Call ahead, and the family can also show you their accommodations, including a large house and a cozy woodland yurt. Look for small fudge shops, general stores, and the area’s many maple sugar houses, like Glastenview Maple Farm.  

For more information on Hill Farm Inn, visit hillfarminn.com

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