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Inns to warm yourself more than skin deep

New Hampshire, Tyngsboro offer winter escapes

By Kathleen Pierce
Globe Correspondent / January 16, 2011

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When your inner reserves are depleted, the less there is to do, the better. If you embrace this notion, you are ready to escape to nowhere.

Leave the airport security grope to others and head north of Boston to Tyngsboro and the Stonehedge Inn and Spa or to southern New Hampshire and the Bedford Village Inn.

In winter, the Stonehedge Inn, along a peaceful stretch of the Merrimack River, twinkles like a chalet. Hoteliers Dawn and Levent Bozkurt strive to make their deluxe accommodations feel more Nordic than New England.

The inn has received accolades from Wine Spectator since 1996 for its wine cellar, and in four years its restaurant, Left Bank (formerly Silks), has become even more noteworthy since Alejandro Facio entered the kitchen.

This Mexican-born chef, who has worked with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and the Gramercy Tavern in New York, among other top spots, has won over gourmands with succulent short ribs and juicy tenderloin equal to any urban offering. You owe it to yourself to experience his braised lamb shoulder with toasted figs and couscous at night and eggs Benedict in the morning.

The Left Bank is not your neighborhood bistro. Synchronized and cloche service is still practiced in the dining room and a dress code rules (leave your jeans in the room). All of this equates to refined, old-fashioned pampering. If you’re in a casual mood, take a seat by the four-sided fireplace in the lounge for mini beef Wellingtons and oysters paired with a dozen choices of wine by the glass.

After a restful night’s sleep on a pillow-top bed in the generous-sized rooms, many with a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub, you won’t need a massage, but book one anyway. The vinotherapy spa is too tempting to pass up. Tucked into the inn’s 36 wooded acres, it’s the perfect place to relax as the snow falls. Try the wine barrel soak, with French chardonnay grape-seed extract, and then sweat away your tension in the steam room to make the experience last longer.

As with the Stonehedge, a weekend at the Bedford Village Inn is anything but taxing: eat, drink, sleep, repeat. A former agrarian estate located between Manchester and Nashua, it has 14 guest rooms and a Colonial cottage. You can book the executive suite with a guest bathroom and gracious sitting area. If you crave privacy, try the Summit suite, complete with butler service, a drawn bath and bottle of Veuve Clicquot waiting.

The milk room, just off the lobby, is a perfect spot for recharging, with its giant fireplace, and inviting couches. In need of a retail fix? Head to Smitten, the inn’s carriage-house-turned-boutique a few steps away. When we saw the artistic sweaters, earrings, and playful bling scattered about the shop, we scratched “shopping in Nashua’’ off our list.

It’s easy to indulge with six dining rooms, a tavern, and wine bar on the premises. We ate at Corks on the top floor, lured by its Cruvinet wine dispensing system that allows top-shelf vintages to be ordered by the glass. Sommelier Jon Carnevale, the innkeeper’s son, stocks the cabinet with ultra premium bottles such as Caymus cabernet.

Whether you dine in one of the cozy dining rooms or the more casual tavern, you’ll experience chef Earl Anthony Morse’s cuisine. A New Hampshire native and graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Morse worked in Las Vegas and at acclaimed White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, before coming to Bedford five months ago.

Sitting at the Corks bar with an Angus, bacon cheeseburger and a cabernet as ambient music sets the mood, you will be swept away. When nowhere is the destination, you’ll be surprised how far you can get.

Kathleen Pierce can be reached at kmdpierce@gmail.com.

If You Go

Stonehedge Inn & Spa
160 Pawtucket Blvd, Tyngsboro
978-649-4400
www.stonehedgeinnand spa.com
Standard doubles $255. Spa packages from $510 include a treatment for two, breakfast and dinner at the Left Bank.
Bedford Village Inn
2 Olde Bedford Way
Bedford, N.H.
603-472-2001
www.bedfordvillageinn.com
Executive suite is $240 and includes breakfast.