Best Fall Getaways
Been there, done that. Or have you? Discover 23 weekend getaway properties so transformed, you’ll never believe you’d set foot in them before (and why fall is the perfect time to visit them).
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A+ Digs for the College Tour
Juniper Hill Bed & Breakfast
Cornell University & Ithaca College
16 Elm St /// Trumansburg, NY (607) 387-3044/(888) 809-3167
From White Plains: 4½ hours
Juniper Hill Bed & Breakfast boasts a large collection of Impressionist paintings.
Bruce Digenti was “in electronics.” David Kuranda was a surgeon in Rochester, New York. They met on Match.com and shared a dream: to open a B&B that would also serve as an art gallery for Kuranda’s growing collection of American Impressionist paintings. They found a dilapidated 1920s Federal Colonial mansion right on the main road about 10 miles outside of Ithaca, New York. “It had all the original woodwork and moldings,” Digenti says, “but everything had to be stripped, repainted, and repapered.” The result is one of the most lauded B&Bs on Tripadvisor, winning 75 out of 75 top marks for ambience, service, and overall experience. High ceilings, interior French doors, glass built-in cabinets jammed with pearlescent glass and china, and every inch of wall space graced with confetti-brush-stroked Impressionist paintings, Juniper Hill brings opulence back to Roaring ’20s décor.
Room: Each of the four rooms (one a king suite with a separate queen sleeping porch) is lavishly done in period antiques. Think tassels, brocade, gilded frames and draperies, and, of course, winsome Impressionist paintings (priced for sale between $1,000 and $10,000). The Mary Cassatt Suite consists of a king room and a three-season queen sleeping porch ($275); perfect for two friendly couples or parents traveling with college-bound kids (ages 13 and up only).
Board: You can avail yourself of Digenti’s baked delights—M&M cookies or ambrosial brownies, for example—upon arrival, and there are always chips and drinks available for the midnight snacker. Digenti carries a hot pot of coffee up to your room first thing in the morning, but the pièce de resistance is his spectacular three-course candlelit gourmet breakfast, which could include cranberry poached pear, banana-bread trifle, and breakfast risotto. For dinner, walk a few steps to country-cool Hazelnut Kitchen (53 E Main), which has been winning the Ithaca crowd over since it opened.
Only Here: Bring a bottle or two of wine back from a local winery (there are 30 to 40 within a half-hour’s drive), and sip in the parlor in front of a warm fire. Or play Scabble or Yahtzee in the grand Game Room before choosing one of hundreds of recent DVDs to bring up to your room.
While Here: Wine/Gorges/Art—form the crux of the Finger Lakes Region’s attractions. You know what they say; “Ithaca is Gorges” and so is Trumansburg. Taughannock Falls State Park, with its stair-step waterfalls, is a favored romantic spot for Cornell and Ithaca students, especially in the fall when the dynamics of falling water is heightened by the eye-popping colors of autumnal foliage. October also brings the “Greater Ithaca Art Trail,” a cultural tour in upstate New York where participants get a chance to meet various artists on weekends.
Facts: Rooms are $175 to $275 and include a three-course gourmet breakfast for two, welcome baked goods, and snacks and soft drinks 24/7.
The Sayre Mansion Inn
Lehigh University & Moravian College
250 Wyandotte St /// Bethlehem, PA (877) 822-2110
From White Plains: 2 hours
The Sayre Mansion Inn was built by philanthropist Robert Sayre in the Gothic Revival style.
Longtime fans of this Gothic Revival brick mansion-turned-inn (in 1993) will be happy to find merely subtle changes after a recent updating. Mentioned in the U.S./Canada edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, this was Chef Emeril’s choice of lodging while he launched his two restaurants in the nearby Sands Casino last year. In 1850, prominent philanthropist Robert Sayre, chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, a director of Bethlehem Steel, and trustee of both St. Luke’s Hospital and Lehigh University, had his mansion built on the hill in order to overlook his gritty enterprises. The parlors and dining room are elegantly majestic, with unusual architectural details such as whitewashed, filigreed, cast-iron moldings and period paw-foot chairs, brass candlestick sconces, and columned and marbled fireplaces.
Room: Décor adheres to original opulent fashions of the day, though brand-new pillow-top, high-thread-count, disappear-into-down bedding has been added to up the comfort factor in each of the 22 rooms. The Robert Sayre suite ($235 per night) is particularly historic, with a bedroom in baronial blacks, burgundies, and gold complete with an amazing sitting room that features a soaring, gold-leafed domed ceiling and marble fireplace. This was once the home’s library where Sayre kept most of his 10,000 books. A private third-story conservatory ($260), with a glass ceiling, a small zen garden fountain, lots of plants, and modern appointments, is favored by honeymooners. In the fall, it is a glorious dappled sundrenched place.
Board: Breakfast is a big hit with business travelers who appreciate a warm and hearty morning meal in stately surroundings. Fresh flowers adorn a formal dining room table set for 12. For dinner, head out to the newest sensation, Bolete (1740 Seidersville Rd), set in an antique stone house and noted in now-shuttered Gourmet magazine. For jazz lovers, try the new speakeasy, The Bookstore Speakeasy (336 Adams St).
Only Here: This is America’s “Christmas City” (Bethlehem—get it?), so, from the end of November, you can bet your Advent calendar there’s something special to do every day leading up to December 25.
While Here: Bethlehem loves its fall festivals; one of the largest Celtic festivals in North America is held the last weekend of September, and harvest and food festivals run throughout October. The Bethlehem Historic District Association (bhdaonline.org) has a growing number of antiques and art galleries and boutiques. Take in world-class performing arts at Zoellner Arts Center (zoellner artscenter.org) at Lehigh University.
Facts: Rooms from $160 to $325 include afternoon pastries and tea, and a three-course gourmet breakfast.
UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center
Amherst & UMass
1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA (413) 549-6000/(877) 822-2110
From White Plains: 2½ hours
The UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center has all the modern amenities, including iPod docs and flatscreen TVs.
Several years ago, there were only two lodging options for parents who wished to visit their Amherst College or UMass students; the fading Lord Jeffery Inn, or the cinderblock-not-much-better-than-a-dorm-room Campus Center Hotel. Now, franchise motels have popped up on busy Route 9, the Lord Jeff is shuttered and—surprise, surprise—the totally gutted and renovated UMass Hotel @ The Campus Center has become the hip place to stay in the Pioneer Valley.
Room: The much-maligned drab concrete hallways are now bright, wide, bold yellow, and carpeted—leading to charming rooms you’d never recognize if you’ve been here before. Furniture is cleanly contemporary, with Herman Miller ergonomic desk chairs, funky quilted bedspreads tucked into platform beds, oversized pillows, iPod docks, 37” flat-screen TVs, and recycled polished concrete and glass counters in the white and navy bathrooms.
Board: HTM (Hospitality and Tourism Management) majors take classes in those state-of-the-art kitchens. Instead, head into downtown Amherst and put your name in at Judie’s Restaurant (judiesrestaurant.com), which has been dishing out its famous popovers for nearly 30 years.
Only Here: Take the elevator to the former TOC on the top floor for the best Pioneer Valley view in the five-college system.
While Here: During peak foliage season, head north to traverse Route 2, the most gorgeous New England drive that runs from Greenfield to Williamstown.
Facts: Rooms are $99 to $169; family suites are $225 to $350 and include free Internet access, parking, and extensive continental breakfast.
The Study @ Yale
1157 Chapel St /// New Haven, CT (203) 503-3900
Drive From White Plains: 1 hour
The lobby at The Study @ Yale plays up its connection to academia with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf.
Formerly the dusty Colony Inn, this New Haven newcomer could be confused with a swanky Crate & Barrel furniture showroom…with cocktails. A whimsical pair of colossal brass spectacles at the hotel entrance speaks to an academic influence, continued inside where a floor-to-ceiling geometric bookshelf holds a catalogue of art and architecture books. Passersby are enticed to peek into the Chapel Street-level window front and admire the sleek lobby-cum-study done up in hardwood floors, graphic-designed area rugs, leather and plush seating in blues, creams, and grays, scattered with flowers, pinecones, and other haute tchotchkes.
Room: A collegian’s fantasy dorm room study/mod suites sport light woods, heather teals, and earth browns. “Rumpled-look” duvets belie the ultra-luxe bedding beneath. Ergonomic chairs are tucked under work desks set with stocked mesh pencil cups. Cute blue-and-white seersucker robes hang in gleaming white subway tile and gray-veined marble bathrooms. To remind you where you are, stay in a room facing the spires of Yale University’s neo-Gothic buildings.
Board: In-house farm-to-table restaurant Heirloom does brisk business morning, noon, and night, with a fresh—and pricey—menu. For a truly unique experience, head a few blocks away to Miya’s (68 Howe St),“the only sustainable sushi restaurant in the Northeast” and, for sure, the only reflective, intellectual, quirky chef this side of San Fran, Bun Lai. With concoctions like “Kiss the Smiling Piggie Roll,” “Two Fish Cha Cha,” and the vegetarian “Killer Squid,” among hundreds of others, Bun says, “We don’t want trendy. We want accessible, world-class food while making fun of haute cuisine.” Lines start forming early.
Only Here: At check-in, you get two complimentary tickets to either the venerable Yale Rep (1120 Chapel St) across the street or the cutting-edge Long Wharf Theater (222 Sargent Dr).
While Here: Take a tour of Yale University (149 Elm St; Sat/Sun 1:30). Even if you’re old enough to have grandkids here, it’s worth it for the architecture and earnestness of the students alone.
Facts: Rooms and suites ($159-$359) include two free tickets to local live theatre.