One of the greatest things about New York City is the relative ease with which it’s possible to escape: an hour in virtually any direction and you could find yourself at the beach, in the mountains, or sitting by a pristine lake. An hour and 40 minutes north, however, will put you in bucolic Washington, Connecticut – an area of rolling hills and white clapboard New England churches – a picture-perfect town that, for me, recently made for a completely restorative retreat.
I had the good fortune to stay at the newly renovated Mayflower Inn & Spa, a 58-acre oasis that offers everything from fishing lessons to craniosacral massage in the loveliest of Zen settings. With just 30 rooms (from $675-$1,850 per night) – complete with sumptuous Frette linens and many featuring four-poster beds – the atmosphere felt more grand, shingle-style country house than Relais & Chateaux, of which the Mayflower is a part. Every detail was attended to in advance of my visit – minibar requests, personally chosen midnight snacks (excellent touch), as well as preferences for beauticians, should I choose to indulge in the sprawling 20,000sq ft spa.
The inn has built a stellar reputation among spa-goers, but I travelled here specifically for fresh air, good food and downtime. One could, however, easily spend a fully packed month here, as the activities on offer are endless: mountain biking, guided hikes, archery, yoga and Pilates, antiquing in nearby towns, tennis lessons, warming ginger pedicures… the list goes on and on. My weekend away was focused on the great outdoors, but after touring the spa and its soothing Garden Room and treatment facilities, I intend to return for some Steeprock Stone Therapy ($275) in the not-too-distant future. In addition, there is a whole Mind-Spirit menu that incudes classes in meditation, journal writing, watercolour and landscape painting, flower arranging and a particularly intriguing Organise Your Life course ($90) designed to help you manage it all on your return to reality.
I spent quality time reading on the peaceful wraparound porch, as well as in various public sitting rooms that are stocked with beautiful art books and freshly cut flowers. Delicious food is central to the whole Mayflower experience, too – no spartan spa deprivation here – and I feasted at the inn’s formal restaurant whose menu features traditional fare such as beef tenderloin tartare, artisanal-cheese risotto and Niman Ranch pork tenderloin. But I preferred the more casual Tap Room with its comforting classics (a signature Greyledge Farm black Angus burger with hand-cut Parmesan and rosemary chips was perfection) and relaxed vibe.
As an escape that includes lush wilderness, healthy living, a rich panoply of activities and the kind of attention to detail that means wellies and a mac are provided should the sun fail to shine – could life ever be without a serious silver lining at this picturesque haven? Never.