Last week we started a series on the blog focused on spotlighting members of Distinctive Inn of New England (DINE). The series started with a spotlight on the Manor on Golden Pond, offering inside tips on “the mystery of the Pub” and insight into the history of the manor. While travel restrictions are in place many of our regular guests are hunkering down at home but are dreaming about their next romantic getaway in DINE country. This series will give inn travelers plenty of information on how to choose between the ten DINE member inns, and help to motivate your next trip too.
Today we turn our attention to the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, VT. Located less than five miles from the New Hampshire border, the Rabbit Hill Inn lies on the “cusp” of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
Picture the Rabbit Hill Inn
Once a roadside tavern and general store, the Rabbit Hill Inn is now the focus of this corner of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Quietly and meticulously, the innkeepers of the Rabbit Hill Inn have built the inn to one of the top rated small hotels in America. In fact, for the past two years, the Rabbit Hill Inn was named the #1 Best Resort Hotel in the Northeast in Travel+Leisure Magazines Top 100 Hotels of the World Awards. The inn also scored #3 Best Hotel in the United States and #39 Best Hotel in the World. With credit to the exceptional hospitality offered by innkeepers, Brian and Leslie Mulcahy, it’s the guests of this inn who’ve voted to offer them these accolades. The list of awards from national media go on and on as you can see here.
The Rabbit Hill Inn offers 19 uniquely decorated guest rooms and suites, spread across two buildings, including the main inn. Rooms range in décor styles including classic country, traditional, contemporary, art deco, contemporary, and others. But one thing remains consistent throughout the inn, each room is designed for ultimate comfort, luxury, and romance.
Most rooms feature gas fireplaces. All guest rooms offer private baths, many with whirlpool tubs for two and/or spa showers. Of course, in keeping with the theme of the Rabbit Hill Inn, when guests enter their room, a signature stuffed rabbit will greet them on their bed, surrounded by personalized information about your stay.
Amenities abound at the Rabbit Hill Inn. In guest rooms you’ll find upscale toiletries from the Elemis Spa collection, soft luxury Rabbit Hill Inn bathrobes for your use during the stay, lush Italian towels by Mascioni, coffee makers, hair dryers, alarm clocks with CD/docking stations and a selection of CDs (or bring your own), irons, drip brew coffee makers and free wireless Internet access.
Another amenity that guests love – in fact, they’ll plan their day around it – is teatime, served from 2:00-5:00pm daily. With a wide selection of sweet treats and fine teas or coffee, the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploring Vermont is in front of the fire in the inn’s beautiful common rooms. While Covid has discouraged buffets, for now a lovely selection of tea pastries are pre-plated for you and served by innkeepers.
The other amenity that guests simply rave about are the world famous Stave puzzles of Vermont. There’s never a time where at least one if not more guests are not curled over one of these hand cut-in wooden gems with uniquely shaped pieces. Once started, the puzzle board “belongs” to that guest for the duration of completion. The inn’s collection is large enough to never go back to the same puzzle again, unless you want to!
The Rabbit Hill Inn’s Snooty Fox Pub, offering an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks along with good cheer and conversation with other guests or the innkeepers (who also serve as bartenders), is home to a wide selection of board games, metal solve-it-if-you-can puzzles, a dart board and more. This casual snug pub serves as a gathering spot for guests starting about 5:30 pm. With a nice selection of local craft beers, wines, and Brian’s famous cocktails, it’s easy to understand why the Snooty Fox Pub is quite literally the spirit of the inn at cocktail time.
Dining at the Rabbit Hill Inn is sure to be a highlight of your stay, with frequently changing menus that showcase highly seasonal and local ingredients as much as possible. Chef Andrew Hunter and his sous chef, Joseph Ganley, offer relaxed fine dining, served at candlelit tables in the fireplaced dining room. Featuring a panache hard to find at New England inns, dinners include both classical and new age techniques and presentations sure to dazzle the senses and tastebuds.
Breakfast is equally sumptuous, featuring a choice of sweet starters, created by Rabbit Hill Inn’s longtime pastry chef, Phyllis Grech, plus fresh yogurts and fruit compotes and combinations. A choice of sweet or savory breakfast entrée follows and is sure to leave you stoked and ready for a day of exploring Vermont’s countryside.
While strict, Vermont’s travel restrictions have resulted in the state having one of the lowest incidences of the virus in America. The Rabbit Hill Inn has always been dedicated to zealous cleaning and food safety standards, yet with Covid, the careful protocols have been augmented. Read here about Vermont’s travel restrictions and all that Rabbit Hill Inn is doing to keep guests and their own staff safe.
Meet the Innkeepers: Brian and Leslie Mulcahy
Both Brian and Leslie hail from the great state of Rhode Island, where they were both born and raised. After meeting during their college years, they married in 1983 and started full-time careers which left them little time for vacations. However, in 1992 they decided to “try out” a country inn, having heard that they may be relaxing and welcoming. Thus, they happened upon the Rabbit Hill Inn because it was in New England and just far away to feel like they were getting away, but not too far to drive with limited time to vacation. They didn’t know what to expect from their first inn experience, but what they found at the Rabbit Hill Inn turned out to be life changing. “We found, in this special place, people who genuinely cared about us — people who wanted to help us relax in this most tranquil environment,” explained Leslie.
They went back home after their soothing getaway intrigued by the lifestyle that innkeeping might offer and so different from their hectic corp
orate lives. What happened next was serendipitous, and proof that fate does exist. John and Maureen Magee, innkeepers/owners of the Rabbit Hill Inn at the time, were looking for a couple to come on board to help them. After a number of visits over a couple of years, their friendship with the Magees bloomed. Conversations led to an exciting decision to join the innkeeping world with the Magees. Leslie and Brian left their careers in Rhode Island in April, 1994, and became the Assistant Innkeepers at the Rabbit Hill Inn, and have never looked back.
They spent about three years learning the ropes, from expert innkeepers, and then on April 1st, 1997, after three years as Assistant Innkeepers, Leslie and Brian took ownership of Rabbit Hill Inn. Nearly 24 years later, Brian and Leslie – now very seasoned innkeepers – still offer what they like to call “traditional innkeeping” – an old-fashioned, very personal approach to hospitality. This personalized approach to innkeeping has been the hallmark of their approach and one of the signature selling points of the inn.
History of the Rabbit Hill Inn
The legacy of the Rabbit Hill Inn starts in the late 1700′s. The tiny hamlet of Lower Waterford, VT was actually a bustling spot where hundreds of travelers passed, their journeys taking them between Montreal, Canada and the bustling American harbors of Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Samuel Hodby knew that his land in Lower Waterford, Vermont was the mid-way point on this major trade route, and created a place to buy provisions, enjoy a swill of ale and have a place to rest in the middle of the 18-day trip. He created the Samuel Hodby Tavern, and thus began the tradition of hospitality in what was to become the Rabbit Hill Inn.
Also noting the activity in the area, Jonathan Cummings erected his home and workshop right next to the inn. Cummings home had 6 rooms — 2 per floor. Mr. Cummings shop was located in what is today part of the inn’s foyer and all of the front dining room.
By the early 1830′s it was clear that the only profitable venture here was innkeeping, so Cummings sold his building to Fred Cross and a Mr. Hale, who had by then also purchased the Samuel Hodby Tavern. From that day forward, these buildings have remained joined as one property which has run as an inn except for the years between 1912 and 1957 when the inn and town buildings underwent restoration, and the property was held as a private residence.
For a complete timeline of the inn’s ownership and more detailed history, click here.
The Rabbit Hill Inn has an entire wall of INNsider tips. They’ve been consolidated into suggestions for incredible outdoor adventures or themed day trips, which serve up full day itineraries for guests. They’re themed trips like Vermont craft beer or distillery treks, covered bridge tours, or a food-lover’s tasting trip visiting artisan cheese makers, Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, cider mills, and real maple farms. Don’t miss Leslie’s special itineraries. They are filled with great insider tips and local secrets to assure that you never miss out on the good stuff! And she will gladly customize a day trip just for you, focusing on your specific interests.
Leslie suggests this special idea to complete your stay at the Rabbit Hill Inn…” Many people are not aware that in-room massages are offered here. Definitely take advantage of the in-room massage experience. No need to go to a spa, our licensed therapist comes to you. Then you stay in relaxation mode, by your fireplace or soak in your whirlpool tub. This heavenly service does require advance appointment. Be assured, Covid precautions and protocols are carefully in place at all times.”
Innkeepers’ Favorite Recipe – Frozen Maple Mousse from Rabbit Hill Inn
What could be more iconic Vermont than a maple dessert? Leslie says, “Get ready to really “wow” your lucky friends and family with this incredible frozen dessert. This easy make ahead maple dessert recipe will blow them away.” Best of all, only 6 ingredients are needed.
Whip the heavy cream, both extracts, and salt together just until soft peaks form. Transfer to a bowl & let chill in refrigerator.
Pour maple syrup into small pan.
Place eggs in the mixer and whip until fluffy and yellow.
While whipping eggs, bring maple syrup to a boiling point. Then remove from heat and slowly add syrup into eggs while whipping on medium speed.
After all the syrup is in the mixer, slowly turn to high speed and whip until mixture has cooled.
Fold chilled whipped cream into the egg / syrup mixture. Then spoon into the individual serving dishes.
Chill in the freezer for about 2 hours.
When ready to serve, top with whipped cream & berries.
Optional: Jazz it up a little – consider a little crunchy addition on top, such as maple candied walnuts, crumbled maple cookies, or whatever you desire.
Contact the Rabbit Hill Inn
Address: 48 Lower Waterford Road, Lower Waterford, Vermont 05848
Local Phone: (802) 748-5168
We’ll be taking turns spotlighting all of the members of Distinctive Inns of New England in the upcoming weeks. Be sure to check back on the blog often for additional inn profiles or visit all of the inns here.
Start dreaming of your next romantic getaway. It’s not too early to book your upcoming summer or even fall getaway when Covid vaccines are in greater supply and safety will imbue travel. Don’t forget to book directly online or by phone with your favorite DINE inn.
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