Elegance in the Real New Hampshire

Adair Country Inn and Restaurant, Littleton, NH

Driving north from Rhode Island, we push through the Boston’s extended suburbs that dwindle away as we venture deeper into New Hampshire. Further north, we discover the part of New Hampshire that exists to serve tourists — the attractions around Lake Winnipesaukee, the ski resorts, and the natural wonders that make hiking and camping in the White Mountains a thrill. But north of the White Mountains, beyond the ski resorts and the bustling communities that serve them, New Hampshire returns to its rustic roots. It’s peace, quiet, and wilderness — not at all where you’d expect to find a four-diamond country inn.









That’s where we found the Adair Country Inn and Restaurant, an amazingly upscale country inn with a fine-dining restaurant and two hundred acres of countryside.

Adair is a year-around destination. You can play in the snow all winter with snow snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and in the nearby ski areas, Alpine skiing. Hiking is best in the spring and summer. In the autumn, leaf peeping can be from the window of your guest room or through the window of your car on a country drive. If you are lucky enough to visit over Christmas in order to celebrate the holiday in Bethlehem, you can enjoy festivities at the Inn with a Dutch flavor, complete with Saint Nicholas and Black Pete.

Of course, any meal at the Inn’s restaurant is a celebration. Executive Chef Jeanne McCredie came to Adair from the Mount Washington Hotel, where she distinguished herself in the culinary community. At the Adair, she has had the liberty and resources to develop a restaurant that attracts gourmands the same way that lovers of luxury are attracted to the rest of the Inn.

On our visit, we enjoyed a marvelous dinner. It started with lobster bisque – rich and savory — continued through a tenderloin basking in Boursin-blue cheese butter, and ended with the crunch crust of a delicious crème brulee. Even the breakfast was a delight, with huge fluffy popovers providing a memorable centerpiece for a breakfast of fruit, yogurt, maple granola, sausage, and a slice of thick pie-like apple pancake.

After a hike, or exploring nearby Littleton, or maybe a day of skiing, the Chapmans host teatime in the inn’s living room, where you can sip your tea at the fireplace and meet the other inn’s patrons.

Or, if it’s romantic getaway and you want to be alone, you can go down to the basement. The basement is finished out in large stone blocks, perfectly fitting for a room called the Granite Tap Room, making it a cool retreat for relaxing with a drink in an overstuffed club chair or a game of pool on the Inn’s antique table.

In those days before air conditioning, people of means came to the mountains for cool air all summer.

At night, we retired to our guest room. The Adair has nine rooms, each named for different nearby mountains, all with antique furniture and cozy ambiance. Our room, the Lafayette, overlooked the front gardens. It had a four-poster bed, comfy reading chairs, a settee in front of a gas fireplace, and a bathroom featuring a two-person soaking tub.

The Adair was once the country home of the daughter of Frank Hogan, one of the country’s leading lawyers — but that was back in 1927, when everyone and his neighbor was getting rich from a booming stock market that promised to never end. In those days before air conditioning, people of means came to the mountains for cool air all summer. They’d take the trains from the crowded hot cities to grand hotels where they were pampered like royalty for months on end.

But the wealthiest people would have their own homes. And because of his defense of rich and fearful clients, Frank Hogan became a very wealthy man. His clients had included the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and the owners of the Hope Diamond. Hogan built Adair as a wedding gift for his only child, Dorothy Adair Hogan.

In those days, the countryside around the home was rocky rolling hills. The tree cover in 1927 was minimal, only beginning to recover from the widespread logging that fed the iron furnace in nearby Franconia. Wildflowers bloomed in abundance. Since then, the forests have regrown, the wildlife has returned, and New Hampshire’s original natural beauty has renewed.

Dorothy lived a long and peaceful life in the stately house, welcoming presidents, actors, and sports stars to her home. Then in 1992, the Banfield Family converted Adair into a country inn. The Banfields are people of fine taste, and the recognized that there are other people of fine tastes who would make the Adair into their mountain retreat. The present owners, Neil and Betsy Young continued where they left off, and developed a top-notch restaurant and oversaw renovations that made the rooms appealing to discerning patrons.

At the time of our visit, our innkeepers were Ilja and Brad Chapman, bringing extensive experience in tourism and hospitality developed in warmer climates. Not only have they made the Adair a welcoming and romantic place to relax, they encourage visitors to hike in the inn’s 200 acres of restored woodlands and experience the North Country’s natural wonders up close.

The Adair Country Inn is more elegant than what you’d often expect in a country inn, blending the four-poster-and-quilts ambiance of bed and breakfasts with the luxury you’d expect if you were a guest of Frank Hogan.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit as guests of the Inn, and felt completely papered. We’re sure you will be too.

You can find the Adair Country Inn’s website at www.adairinn.com. They are just off I93 at exit 40. Call them at 1-888-444-2600.

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