Bed-and-breakfast virgins, like myself, often avoid this type of accommodation for fear of antique overload, mildew and awkward moments. I can’t say this trip proved I was wrong about bed and breakfasts completely, but the inn that swiped my B&B card proved I was wrong about some.
While it had the homey feel, warm hosts (Peter and Susan MacLaren) and quirky tchotchkes that are the very reasons people visit inns, the West Hill House Bed & Breakfast balanced its traditionalism with modern touches and plenty of privacy.
Once you’ve reached the top of the winding roads, you’re greeted by a long home with a covered porch, hanging potted plants, and American and Canadian flags. The house offers a stark contrast to what you’ve seen as you passed the massive Sugarbush Resort on the way up.
Depending on when you arrive, the house floats in a pool of green, white or red because of the massive trees and the acres of property that surround it. Because of those trees there’s not much sun beaming down on the house, but the home still emanates warmth.
Then you notice the huge red barn that seems to have come out of a children’s book and landed across the road. Suddenly, the suburban-style home is not enough and you need the farm-style barn. You find yourself thinking, “if only it was part of the B&B.” Before you whine to your travel-partner about the house in the country you’ve booked that doesn’t have a barn, let us give you the good news: It does, and that’s it (more on that later).
As you enter the front door, you’ll notice many signs within the small foyer (pictured above), mostly welcoming guests and inviting them to open every door. Once in that tiny space, you are also hit with a freight-truck’s load of character. Between the antique telephone (ear piece and all) and the framed piece of original wall showing layers of newspaper and wallpaper, the foyer is a great representation of what’s to come.
What looks like a narrow home upon entry unfolds itself as you walk through. The dining room—where you’ll enjoy breakfast cooked by Susan and hosted by Peter in adorably matching aprons—leads to the kitchen, which leads to a living room. That room leads to the Sun Room with glass on three sides and skylights, where you can enjoy the barely noticeable HD-TV that’s built into the wall, or entertain the house with a go on their pump organ. Proof Peter and Susan have found the perfect middle ground.
The old-fashioned seeming B&B is also a recognized green hotel. Between the solar panels on the roof that heat your water and the EV chargers for Tesla cars (neither of which you can miss when pulling in), it’s easy to forget this house was built in the 1850s.
The inn has nine rooms, each with it’s own quirks. Eight are in the main house, and one (the best one, I think) consumes two floors of the bright red barn.
The common denominator is the cozy feeling each room has thanks to quilts, floral wallpapered or darkly painted walls, fireplaces and exposed wooden beams. Each room also has a theme. The Paris room has, you guessed it, paintings of Paris, but also dramatic jewel tone draperies and a four-poster bed. Let’s not forget its spa room with a second fireplace and Jacuzzi tub. The Highland room, named for Peter who hails from Scotland, comes fittingly with a set of bagpipes on the wall and plaid blankets.
Now, onto the best room: The Logan Suite (pictured above) is in the barn. The first floor of the suite has a full kitchen and dining area with a separate bathroom. Up a narrow set of stairs, the main floor awaits with a seating area, a queen size bed and a Jacuzzi tub with fake candles that always flicker, inviting you in for a dip.
Maybe it’s because I’m from the city and have never seen anything like it, but the big red building has branded itself into my brain. Luckily, the barn doors are open to all guests (the separate door to the Logan Suite is locked) and while not much goes on there unless an event is booked (pictured above), the open barn room will take your breath away. The wood space with a balcony overhead screams of hoedown. It’s completely bare, but at the same time unforgettable.
Oh, and then there’s Peter—the sweetest man you’ll ever meet (at least in this industry). He has story upon story to tell and loves nothing more than talking with guests about the historic inn he’s been running with his wife since 2006 while still trumping your technology skills.
The B&B is in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, which consists of four towns: Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown. These are the four towns the Mad River runs through. The inn is one mile from Sugarbush Resort, which offers endless winter activities. Warren itself doesn’t have much to offer (besides a eclectic general store), so drive 10 minutes to Waitsfield for amazing tacos (The Mad Taco) or 20 minutes to Waterbury for farm fresh food at any of the restaurants and only-in-Vermont beers (Craft Beer Cellar).
Maggie Parker is Paste’s assistant travel editor.