No one travels to New Hampshire looking to stay at the latest and greatest contemporary hotel. Even if they did, I’m not entirely sure where they’d find it. People travel to New Hampshire largely to enjoy the natural beauty and the outdoors, in all seasons. And if you’re looking to soak up the scenery from an equally beautiful setting, consider the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in the heart of the White Mountains.
Located in Whitefield, about an hour away from Mt Washington, this massive Victorian hotel ticks every box for a charmingly old fashioned stay, but with plenty of modern amenities. Huge porch with rocking chairs? Check. Evening campfires to toast marshmallows and make smores? Check. Old fashioned board games in the parlor? Check.
A member of Historic Hotels of America, the Mountain View dates back to 1865 and was originally the farmhouse of the Dodge family, and has been significantly expanded upon since then. In its heyday, well-heeled guests would spend the entire summer at the hotel and the top floor, which now contains the spa, housed the nannies and children. There were also separate quarters for chauffeurs. Famous guests included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, FDR and Dwight Eisenhower, along with Bette Davis, Norman Rockwell and John D. Rockefeller. The Mountain View was also popular with New England writers including Robert Frost and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It hasn’t always been a smooth road for the hotel, which was closed for 13 years, from 1986 to 1999. The current owner, American Financial insurance company, purchased the hotel in 2005 and reduced the number of guest rooms from 200 to 145 to increase their size. A spa was also added, which was named one of Conde Nast Traveler's Top Resort Spas - be sure to check out the Tower Room spa (pictured). Other ammenities added include a health and fitness center, and 17 seat movie theater. As you’d expect from a massive, historical building, renovations and upkeep to the property are an ongoing process. The painting alone is a monumental task; the exterior 135 year old cedar siding contains 78 miles of wood.
Today the vibe of the hotel is Victorian elegance but in a relaxed, family-oriented way. Although most guests will use the hotel as a base to explore the White Mountains, there is plenty to do at the hotel itself, from golf and swimming to sleigh rides and ice skating in the winter. For the more adventurous, there was even axe throwing contest while we were there.
The on-site farm was a huge hit with my son, who got to “meet the farmer” on an early morning tour which included collecting fresh eggs which were sent to the hotel’s kitchen. We also learned about the farm’s goats, sheep and horses. Yarn spun from the sheep, goats and alpacas is available for sale. And the farm isn’t just for show or petting; it is a working farm committed to raising endangered species of animals.
And when you’ve had your fill of activities or cocktails on the porch, you’ll want to unwind in your bedroom. The guest rooms have a traditional look that matches the décor of the hallways (wood paneling and oil paintings), with dark furniture and armoires concealing televisions. The bathrooms are done up in a traditional New England style straight out of “This Old House” magazine, with pedestal sinks and subway tiles. Guests should note that due to space constraints there are no minibars but small refrigerators can be rented for a $25 fee. If that seems painful, keep in mind that laundry is complimentary (but this could be promoted more directly).
The restaurants continue the same vibe of casual elegance. The Main Dining Room has picturesque views of the Presidential Mountain Range, and serves breakfast and dinner (children will be delighted with the extensive pancake menu). More casual options include The Tavern and the Club House, but those looking for something private can book the subterranean chef’s table and wine cellar.
Although historic hotels have plenty of challenges when it comes to maintenance and upkeep, the Mountain View is committed to being as green of a property as it can be. The hotel is an EPA Green Power Member and gets 100% of its power from wind. There’s an onsite wind turbine and the kitchen’s canola oil is recycled into diesel fuel. There is also a towel and linen reuse program, but the hotel could do a better job in promoting this (how about a small card notifying guests about this in the bathroom?) We also love that the hotel used green fiber insulation in its rooms and hallways- demonstrating that hotels can be historic as well as eco-friendly. We can’t wait to see how else the Mountain View Grand Resort will grow and expand over the next few years.
Rates start at $174 per night.
Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa
Mountain View Road
Whitefield, NH 03598
Phone: (866) 484-3843
Historic Hotels of America