By Leslie Geary
Cupid is sharpening his arrows, and with Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s the ideal time for you to get ready for romance too. So pull out that little silky something crammed in the bottom of your bureau drawer, grab the one you love, and hightail it to New Hampshire. It’s there in the tiny town of Bradford, about four and a half hours by car from Manhattan, that guests at the Rosewood Country Inn will find an oasis created especially for them – a place to unwind, snuggle, reconnect or (as the case may be) get better acquainted.
“Romance is always in season,” says Lesley Marquis, who owns and operates the inn with her husband, Dick. Happily married for 34 years, the couple knows a thing or two about romance. And evidently, hospitality. When the couple bought the inn in 1991 they refurbished the 150-year-old Victorian building, filling it with antiques that create an air of elegance and individuality. The Thomas Jefferson room, for example, is appointed with blue-and-white toile that complements its reproduction Staffordshire china. A four-poster bed is topped with a lace canopy and is draped with an understated white-on-white quilt. Yet the Rosewood has been retrofitted with modern amenities, too, so you’ll feel as comfy and romantic as possible.
Each room has a working gas fireplace (instant mood!), Jacuzzi and thermostat. What does central air have to do with love? Simple. It’s much easier to slip into lingerie – especially in the middle of a New Hampshire winter – when your room is warmed with a turn of a dial. Baskets filled with candles, champagne flutes and CDs of crooners like David Young and Norah Jones help set the mood, too. A bright yellow rubber ducky perched jauntily on the edge of the cavernous hot tub adds a perfect reminder that love, however serious, should be fun.
It should also be personal. And to that end, Rosewood offers an array of add-ons to customize your weekend to suite your definition of perfect love.
Feeling playful? The “Light the Fires of Romance” package includes votive candles, soft music, an in-room picnic supper for two, and the “Fan the Flames Game” perfect for getting to know, and laugh with, that special someone. Want to pamper him? Have your room stocked with the “New Hampshire Beer Basket” which includes snacks. Those who prefer sweeter sensations can have a dozen homemade cookies delivered to their room, or indulge in the “Lovers’ Getaway,” which features a box of chocolate truffles, bottle of chilled champagne and one long-stemmed red rose.
If traveling to Rosewood intent on marriage, render the event more memorable with two of Rosewood’s engagement packages. Both include a personalized bottle of champagne that commemorates the date you popped the question. The deluxe option also includes a one-night stay in one of the inn’s suites, a dozen red roses and breakfast in bed.
As for the wedding itself, Rosewood hosts more than 30 of them a year, providing everything from a cake, champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a justice of the peace. The garden’s gazebo, overlooking a lake and waterfall, provides a photo-album-perfect backdrop for warm weather vows. You can even check the state’s marriage license requirements right on Rosewood’s web site.
In the morning, guests are treated to a romantic “candlelight” breakfast served at tables covered in dusty rose linens, with crystal set comfortably apart for discreet morning conversations a deux. Menus change daily, but a recent Saturday offering included poached pears drizzled with raspberry coulis, a tomato-and-basil frittata, and warm-from-the-oven pumpkin muffins. The muffins filled the inn with such a fragrant, sweet aroma that guests were quickly coaxed, two-by-two, down the main staircase and into the dining room. As Lesley cooked up a storm in the kitchen, Dick filled cups with tea and coffee. In the corner, a fire crackled in the fireplace. Outside, seen through walls of bright, cheery windows, a morning snowfall dusted an old stone wall and a field rimmed with towering trees with fresh powder. No one seemed to be in a rush to leave.
Rosewood doesn’t offer regular dinner in the dining room, but it is possible to order substantial
“snacks” for private meals in your room, including shrimp cocktail, croissants filled with chicken salad, cheese fondue with crusty French bread, salad, and various desserts–including cream puffs and strawberries. Visit the second floor pantry for coffee maker and coffee, soda, and various snacks–or microwave some fresh popcorn and help yourself to a movie on the bookshelf down the hall.
If venturing out for dinner, stop by Daniel’s, a quick 15 minutes away on Route 114. Daniel’s offers a 10% discount to Rosewood guests and serves steaks, hearty soups, salads, burgers and other traditional pub fare.
There’s also plenty to do in the area. Athletic types can snowshoe along miles of woodsy trails accessible just outside of Rosewood’s back door (if you didn’t bring outdoor gear, rent only the shoes, rent the gear at Merrimack Farm Store in Bradford). Rosewood hosts occasional moonlight snowshoe packages, and the next one will be held Feb. 2 – 4.
You can also hit one of the 65 slopes at Mount Sunapee, which is a 10-minute drive down Route 103. For those whose idea of romance includes shopping, visit Colony Mill Marketplace in Keene, NH, on the way to or from New York. There you can wander into the Toadstool Bookshop for love sonnets before making your way to the Antique Center. You can lose hours peering into case upon case of estate jewelry, vintage watches, pens, old-fashioned tin toys, furniture, china and other collectables. If art is your thing, catch the “Consuming Views: Art of the White Mountains” exhibit at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, about 30 minutes from the inn.
Then again, this trip is about love. With champagne, in-room picnics, roaring fireplaces, romantic music and that nifty rubber duck setting the mood, who’s to blame you if you decide to hunker down at Rosewood Country Inn and stay put with the one you love? After all, that’s the point.
For more information about Rosewood’s packages and rates, visit the inn’s web site at http://www.RosewoodCountryInn.com.