The Mount Washington Resort
reviewed by Ken Aiken
One of the last grand hotels in the state and embodiment of luxury for generations of New Englanders, The Mount Washington Hotel (now called the Mount Washington Resort) in Bretton Woods is a cultural experience. Built in 1902 its construction included cutting edge technology (a steel skeleton, fire sprinklers, a hydraulic elevator, electric lights installed by Thomas Edison) and old-world craftsmanship (two entire Italian villages and their craftsmen were brought to the White Mountains to build the hotel) combined with “cost-is-no-object” furnishings, fittings, and accoutrements.
The sale of this venerable property to a consortium has resulted in millions of dollars being spent in the meticulous restoration of the hotel and the professional pride and expertise of its employees is evident in every little detail. The grand dame of the White Mountains has returned to the splendor of her youth, and while she still has her own post office (and zip code) and retains her private telephone system there are subtle updates, such as the wi-fi computer connection.
I used the original “auto entrance” to unload my gear, but, to their obvious disappointment, didn’t allow the valets to park my motorcycle. I didn’t retreat to the once notorious speakeasy called the Cave Grill, but did relax with a snifter of Grand Marnier on the Grand Veranda. I did borrow a jacket to have dinner in a room where light filtered through windows made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and where my table was set with more silverware than I have fingers on my hand, but in the morning opted for the quick self-service coffee table with Styrofoam cups. Instead of relaxing in the conservatory or lounging in the palatial Grand Hall, I chose to sit at the table were the gold standard was signed into law and International Monetary Fund established in 1944.
The White Mountain Region has an abundance of hotels, motels, and campsites. There seems to be a place for almost every taste and budget. However, The Mount Washington is something more than just a place to lay one’s head – despite the eleven pillows and exquisitely comfortable bed I experienced. Staying here is like stepping back into the Gilded Age without sacrificing modern conveniences and, as an experience, few hotels in North America can compare.