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Cozy Retreats for a Winter Getaway

by Staff

The season of mittens and hot chocolate is upon us and if you’d rather spend a tranquil afternoon beside a fire than brave the crowds at a big ski resort, these snowy getaways are for you. Picture yourself in a luxury treehouse in the woodlands of Vermont, or a quiet cottage in the Catskills, or a retro motor lodge near Grand Teton National Park. Consider a new boutique hotel in Rhode Island from which you can tour Gilded Age mansions trimmed for the holidays. Or check into a stately newcomer in Germany and browse Christmas markets in places you thought existed only in fairy tales. From Bavaria to Wyoming, winter wonderlands await.

This luxury estate in Barnard, Vt., about 15 minutes north of Woodstock, recently added eight places to stay that are likely to capture the imaginations of travelers in search of quiet and perhaps a bit of childlike wonder. Known as the Treehouses — the first new accommodation category the property has introduced in 30 years — each is around 800 square feet and cantilevered about 14 to 20 feet above ground. Observe birds from your private balcony, have a soak in the oversize tub, savor breakfast with ingredients from the farm in the dining nook, curl up with a book by the fireplace and, come evening, drift off in the king bed.

The eight Treehouses — each is reached via its own wood-and-metal pedestrian bridge — were designed to blend into their natural surroundings and are in addition to the intimate property’s other accommodations, which include four rooms in the main house, 10 cottages, a two-bedroom lodge and a four-bedroom farmhouse. When you descend from your aerie, take your cues from the season. Spend a few hours with a puzzle, or settle in for a game of chess or checkers. Visit the Furo, a bath house with salt water heated to 104 degrees, amid the woods. Work out at the fitness center. Explore the property’s more than 300 acres where you can try winter activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, don’t hold back: Your meals and drinks are included. There’s no set menu in the main dining room, while at the redesigned Twiggs, an à la carte menu changes monthly and may include pastas, stews, soups, pies and Vermont cheese.

Twin Farms allows guests ages 14 and older. Rates include all meals, beverages, cocktails, wine and use of the on-site recreational offerings and equipment. Treehouse prices are from $3,500 a night for two people; main house winter prices are from $2,600 a night for two people.

Drive about an hour south of Twin Farms and you’ll find the town of Weston where you can hunt for treasures in the aisles of the longstanding Vermont Country Store and spend mornings in the brisk air of the nearby Green Mountain National Forest. The Weston hotel had its official opening here in November and has nine rooms and suites (the suites have private decks) with cozy décor, including English and American antiques. While there’s plenty to enjoy outside, if you don’t feel like braving the elements you can stroll over to the spa. There’s also a yoga studio and a fitness center. The hotel restaurant, the Left Bank, offers French country fare like oysters, onion soup gratinée and steak au poivre, and, for dessert, gâteau mousse au chocolat and tarte au fromage and other treats. Rooms are available for booking Wednesday through Monday, with prices from $450 a night. Holiday bookings are also available from Dec. 20 through Dec. 31.

Just in time for this year’s festivities, there’s a new place to linger. Gardiner House, a waterfront boutique hotel, opened in November with 21 rooms and suites, some with harbor views, all with dreamy hues and bamboo and rattan touches. It’s a short walk from the hotel to the shops, bars and restaurants of Thames Street, and to the Sailing Museum, which opened last year. Yet for some of the loveliest views of Newport Harbor, you need not go anywhere at all. The hotel’s Studio Bar has a fireplace where you can keep warm on chilly nights with cocktails and conversation. Bites include warm olives, hummus, yellowfin tuna, arancini, charcuterie and Kobe beef sliders. Prices from $725 a night.

Built in the late 1920s as a golf course clubhouse and reborn as an inn, this escape in the Catskill Mountains beckons with a fireplace indoors and more than 12 acres outdoors. In addition to its 15 rooms and suites, some with fireplaces, the inn is now expanding with three stand-alone cottages. Each cottage aims to deliver “rustic charm,” as the inn puts it, and is more than 1,300 square feet, with two bedrooms, a kitchenette, a washer and dryer, and mountain views. (After a soft opening, the grand opening of the cottages is slated for Jan. 1.)

Wander outside for a hike, or pull up a chair and indulge in s’mores around a fire pit. Rent snowshoes ($24), or work out in the 24-hour fitness room. Dinner is available most days of the week at the Clubhouse Restaurant and Bar where you can relax over burgers, beer, small plates and entrees that incorporate local ingredients and change with the day and season. Prices from $274 a night for a room; from $980 a night for a cottage. Daily breakfast is included.

This motor lodge dating to the 1960s is just 10 minutes from Grand Teton National Park and about two and a half hours from Yellowstone National Park. Recently, it became part of Outbound Hotels, a nascent hotel group offering affordably priced properties in locations that are close to nature and lively towns. There are two Outbound Hotels so far (the other is in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and more are in the works, including properties in Stowe, Vt., and Yosemite National Park.

At the Virginian Lodge you’ll find 165 retro-style rooms, some with bunk beds, and 20 suites (there’s also a seasonal R.V. park). But the real fun happens beyond your sleeping quarters. Gather in pop-up igloos and hot tubs, or around a fire pit for s’mores. Go for a dip in the all-season pool. Walk to the town’s shops and restaurants and visit the area’s parks and hot springs. To mingle with fellow guests and locals, head to the Virginian Saloon, where cocktails and beer are accompanied by karaoke nights. At Billy’s Burgers you’ll not only find pub fare like burgers and waffle fries, but falafel and Greek salad, too. Save room for soft-serve ice cream. For food and drinks on the go, Midtown Liquor has adventure essentials like coffee and grab-and-go breakfast burritos. Stop by the walk-in and drive-through window for wine, beer and sloshies, a local favorite, made with liquor and ingredients such as sugar, ice, and frozen fruit or juice. Prices from $118 a night, plus a $20 nightly resort fee (not including tax).

Those wintery scenes you may have read about once upon a time come to life in Bavaria, where historic cities are blanketed by snow, and strings of lights glow across open-air markets. It’s there, in the capital of Munich, that Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has opened its first hotel in Germany. Set in two restored buildings — the former Bavarian State Bank headquarters and a former residence known as the Palais Neuhaus-Preysing — the 132 room-and-suite property offers a contemporary take on Baroque and Rococo styles as well as a grand departure point for exploring the beauty of Bavaria.

To celebrate the holidays as many locals do, simply step outside the hotel and go for a stroll through Munich’s old town, including its central square, Marienplatz, where you can explore a Christmas market. Day trips to historic and picturesque cities with their own Christmas markets are but a train ride away. Nuremberg, for instance, is about an hour and a half from the hotel. An approximately two-hour train ride will take you to Regensburg, where the Old Town of Regensburg and the Stadtamhof district is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. If it’s too cold to travel near or far, stay put and get pampered at the spa, swim in the indoor pool, or work up a sweat in the fitness area. The hotel also has two courtyards, the Palaishof and the Wintergarten, for hanging out with friends and strangers while sipping a cup of tea.

For brasserie fare, including regional specialties from Germany and beyond, such as Wiener schnitzel, Bavarian risotto, dumplings and roasted Bavarian acorn-fed pork, try Brasserie Cuvilliés. Then while away the long winter evenings with cocktails and live jazz at Bar Montez, named for Lola Montez, the dancer, actress and politician who had an affair with King Ludwig I of Bavaria (among others). “The minor events of this remarkable woman’s career,” The Times wrote in her obituary in 1861, “would supply material for a dozen romances.” Prices from 700 euros a night, or about $760.


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