Philbrook Farm Inn
(Near Wildcat, Sunday River)
You'll find no finer place for an old-fashioned family ski reunion than the Philbrook Farm Inn. The main building was built in 1834, and the Philbrook family has been welcoming guests here since 1861. The fifth generation now operates the inn, but other than additions here and there, little has changed. That includes the view: the Mahoosuc Mountains out the back door; the White Mountains out the front. Wildcat Mountain, N.H., and Sunday River, Maine, are 25 minutes away, and you can cross-country ski or snowshoe on the premises. It's not the place for those who need computers, cell phones and big-screen televisions. Guests make their own entertainment-playing cards, assembling a handmade wooden jigsaw puzzle, chatting in a common room or reading by the fire. The guest rooms ($115-$140; dinner and breakfast included) ramble from one to the next, most containing antiques and family treasures. Some have king-size beds; some share bathrooms. Breakfast and dinner are hearty New England fare, with everything baked from scratch.
Philbrook Farm Inn, 881 North Road, Shelburne, N.H.; 603-466-3831.
The Inn at Water's Edge
(Near Okemo, Killington, Magic Mountain)
With the children grown, New Yorkers Tina and Bruce Verdrager renovated their rambling Victorian vacation home on the edge of Echo Lake into a country inn. Bruce's natural enthusiasm and Tina's culinary skills made it an instant success. Arriving guests are welcomed with a drink in the English pub, which is dominated by an authentic 100-year-old English bar of etched and leaded glass set in mahogany. Bruce tells of how he found it in Savannah, Ga., of all places, while he minds the bar. Tina buzzes in and out of the kitchen, bringing in hors d'oeurves and preparing an elaborate three-course dinner. The kitchen remains open until the last guest arrives. "How can you let people drive all the way here and not give them dinner?" Tina asks. Though smallish, guestrooms are delightful ($175-$250, including breakfast and dinner; lift-and-lodging packages available). They're individually decorated with antiques, as are the two living rooms, which provide an alternative to the pub and game room. Nothing is fussy-just welcoming, like a visit to grandma's. And Tina's cooking-appetizers such as scallops in puff pastry with mustard sauce, entrees such as maple-glazed salmon and multi-course breakfasts-puts even grandmother's to shame.
Information: The Inn at Water's Edge, Ludlow, Vt. 05149; 802-228-8143 or 888-706-9736; www.innatwatersedge.com.
The Featherbed Inn
(Near Sugarbush, Mad River Glen)
If you want to tap into your inner child, the Featherbed Inn is the place to do so. Double-dog-dare you to resist jumping on the fluffy featherbeds. And it's not just the beds that make this place so inviting; it's all the other wish-this-were-my-house comforts that accompany them, not to mention the chic decor. The 1806 farmhouse was the first B&B in the Mad River Valley to welcome skiers from newly opened Mad River Glen in the Fifties. Under the ownership of Tracey and Clive Coutts, it continues to welcome skiers today. Return from the slopes to find a welcoming cup of tea or wassail and snacks. Relax in the Lodge Room, where you can warm your bones by the fieldstone fireplace, play board games or read a book. Or retreat to the formal living room, where perhaps Clive will play a few tunes on the grand piano. For those who just can't leave work behind, the den offers phone, computer hook-up and fax machine. A multi-course breakfast, complete with homemade breads, a fruit course and a hot entree, is served each morning-if you can tear yourself from the downy clutches of your featherbed.
Information: The Featherbed Inn, Route 100, Waitsfield, Vt.; 802-496-7151; www.featherbeedinn.com.
(Near Sugarbush, Mad River Glen)
For years, every time we passed this gabled farmhouse-a black-shuttered beauty in the classic "big house, little house, back house, barn" configuration-we promised ourselves we'd check it out next time Sugarbush or Mad River Glen beckoned. The wait paid off, now that Carol Davis and Jack Rodie are in charge (they took over in '97). She was formerly a guide for Bike VT; he restored federal houses by the sea in Newburyport, Mass. Both exude the kind of quiet capability and warmth one hopes for in a hosteler. The eight rooms, each named for a Vermont county, range in size and price ($110-$150), but all feature sumptuous featherbeds. The knockout is the spacious, pale-green Caledonia Room, a quick sprint-through its French doors-from the outdoor hot tub. Also close at hand is a skating pond, lit up at night, and 22 acres open for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. The resident Labs, a mother-daughter duo in yellow and black, might like to keep you company. In late winter, you can take in the sugaring operation at the farm next door.
Information: 1824 House, Waitsfield, Vt. 05673; 802-496-7555 or 800-426-3986; www.1824house.com.