Last winter, I lost my B&B virginity in Vermont. This year, when planning a quiet winter getaway, another Vermont B&B called to me: a farmhouse and round barn built in the 19th century now serving as an inn with 12 guestrooms.
Perfect for bed-and-breakfast newbies, The Inn at Round Barn Farm is much larger than the B&Bs most people imagine. With the capacity for plenty of guests, 245 acres of wander-worthy space and a large and usually full breakfast room, it’s easy to remain anonymous. Whereas a typical B&B’s close quarters and intimate meals can be a bit intimidating, it’s comforting to know you won’t really be missed if you skip breakfast at this inn. At the same time, if it’s a small town feel and friendly atmosphere you’re after, the guests and hosts are more than happy to provide it.
Driving up to this nationally registered historic place, the first thing you’ll notice is the giant pale yellow round barn, one of five that remain in Vermont (there were originally 25 round barns in the state, as it was a common way to build barns amongst Shakers). The rooms are located in the L-shaped farmhouse next to it, where a covered porch beckons you with its white furniture worthy of a knitting grandma. Reception is right past the front door, where you’ll get your first heavy dose of homeliness.
The small space is filled with tchotchkes for sale, like tiny bottles of maple syrup and postcards with the round barn emblazoned on them. Usually, there’s someone sitting behind the desk to check you in or answer any questions you may have about the area. This room is plastered with white and pink floral wallpaper—get used to wallpaper, because you’ll see a lot of it here.
Change into the complimentary slippers on loan for guests, and let the staffer take you on a quick tour. You’ll want to know where they keep the 24/7 snacks and where the pool is (more on that later).
The inn expands from both sides of the reception area, but they both have a different feel. If you go to the left and toward the round barn, you’ll pass through the wide-open breakfast room with hardwood floors partially covered in Oriental rugs, a wooden ceiling held up by exposed wood beams and a handful of basic dining tables and chairs. This area has a rustic vibe, which is fitting since that direction takes you closer and closer to the barn.
If you go the other way off the reception area, you’ll enter a land of flowers, fireplaces, flouncy curtains, upholstered furniture and patterned wallpaper. This area is fit for your sweet yet lively grandparents—unless your grandparents are woodsmen, then send them in the other direction. This initial room (pictured above) is the library filled with books (obviously), plush patterned furniture and warmth coming from a roaring fireplace. There’s often jazz emanating from the library, making it the perfect place for a cocktail.
Both wings have guestrooms, each with elements reflecting the section in which they’re located.
Most of the rooms are upstairs on the second, and top, floor of the inn, where a long narrow hallway with a shallow slanted ceiling and old photos lining the walls has a mysterious could-be-haunted feeling at night. Don’t worry—it’s not. Of course, when the sun is up, it just seems like a friendly funkily decorated old hallway.
I stayed in the Joslin Room, which is right off the library, before the set of stairs that take you to the second floor. This room stands out for its king canopy bed; gas fireplace; deep raspberry colored walls; and bathroom suite with an oversized whirlpool tub, separate glass enclosed shower, sitting area and dressing area. The bathroom is big enough to host a small party, which is exactly what I did (meaning, I enjoyed the whirlpool in my bathing suit, while my sister sat on the floor and we both drank wine and listened to music, and it was lovely).
The Joslin Room also has a lot in common with the rest of the accommodations. They all offer Tempurpedic beds you’ll sink into, plush robes you’ll also sink into, kitschy yet comfy décor—think plaid bedspreads with paisley walls—and a warmth that makes you feel like you’re a guest in someone’s home.
Other rooms have rustic touches, like exposed wooden beaming in the ceiling, and all of them have sitting apparatuses—whether it’s a rocking chair or a plush patterned armchair. If you’re lucky, the upholstery of the furniture will match that of your down comforter.
Crazy in this day and age, there are no TVs in the guestrooms, which just makes the stay that much more relaxing. If you need some distraction that can’t come from a book or flickering fire, there’s a huge TV in the game room, which also has a pool table.
I was particularly impressed by the amenities—not usually a word associated with bed-and-breakfasts. Not only does this hotel have a spacious dining room run by an accommodating chef, an even bigger barn open for guests to check out, an outdoor wood fired clay oven, five ponds, a game room, hiking trails and equipment (like snowshoes) on loan for free, and a NOFA certified organic garden, it also has a pool. What?! What kind of bed-and-breakfast has a pool?! Aren’t they reserved for resorts and hotel rooftops? I’ve seen pools in hostels, but never pools in charming little inns. The indoor 55-foot lap pool below the barn sits beside a cushy seating area and some exercise equipment.
I also won’t forget how generous the staff was. Not only is breakfast included, they have a separate room full of complimentary teas and snacks—and by snacks I basically mean small meals, like homemade grilled cheese and tomato soup. They also packed us up some leftovers to take on our five-hour drive back to New York, and shared their honest opinions about local ski areas when we were deciding which to visit.
The hotel is a five-minute drive from downtown Waitsfield, which is about three blocks worth of shops, galleries and restaurants. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s boring, however. They’ve packed a lot of culture into those three blocks, from a vegan restaurant to the graffiti mural lining an alley. There are also two ski resorts within 20 minutes of the hotel.
Address: 1661 East Warren Road
Room Rates: From $175
Website: Inn at Round Barn Farm
Maggie Parker is Paste Magazine’s assistant travel editor.