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On a Lark with Captain Fairfield

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There are times when all I want is a getaway with my guy or have a weekend away with the girls… then there are moments where I am badly in need of a little “me” time. When I find myself in such a place, I like to look for somewhere new to explore, refresh, unplug and hide.

There is nothing more liberating than ditching your daily routine to do what you want, when you want-without having to worry about boring anyone else or playing by their rules.

Being the history nerd that I am, I tend to find sanctuary in older locations that embrace their roots and a simpler lifestyle. On a recent solo trip, I was able to find all of the above and more at the Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The Captain Fairfield Inn, one of many boutique style locations owned by Lark Hotels, has so many amazing things to offer its guests.

Here are five things that left a lasting impression on me during my stay…

 A Story to Tell…

Those who know me, know I love a good story rich in history and intrigue – Captain Fairfield didn’t disappoint!

Following their marriage, newlyweds Captain James Fairfield and Lois Walker were given a plot of land in Kennebunkport as a wedding gift. It was on this land in 1813, that they built a Federal-style mansion, known today as the Captain Fairfield Inn.

Shortly after its completion, Captain Fairfield invited his sister Polly and her husband Joseph Lord to live with him and Lois. Since James and Joseph were both sea captains, they hoped their wives could keep each other company while they were away at sea for long periods of time.

The time apart between the women and their husbands was one I could relate to personally. Although I am not married, I have dated a man who lives in Australia for the last five years and it’s hard to not find the distance unbearable at times.

Even still, I could not fully imagine what life was like for these ladies… having lived in a time without phones, video chat, text and email, all they could do is wait for a letter to arrive and pray for their husbands’ safe return.

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A Mix of Old & New…

The Captain Fairfield Inn has a mix of new and old elements that really give it its own unique vibe. The rooms, decorated in both new and old furniture, were covered in pops of bold, modern colors and eye-catching patterns.

What really made me fall in love with the inn though, were the unexpected surprises.

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On a tour of the property, the original pine floors and decorative trim caught my attention immediately. I don’t think I could have smiled any wider when the floorboards began to creak beneath my feet!

The second nerdy smile involved the music playing throughout the first floor. Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong… all musicians I love listening to when I’m badly in need of a chill out.

The final goofy grin came just as I was getting ready for bed… while lowering the blinds in my room, I noticed the windows were the old weight and pulley system style. Mentally, they brought me right back to one of my best childhood memories- living in my great grandmother’s old house.

Although I do enjoy inns that are furnished with antique and vintage pieces, I sometimes find them hard to fully relax in out of fear of breaking something. With Captain Fairfield’s mix of old and new, you trade the stuffy museum feel for a location that feels more like a cozy home away from home.

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A Few of My Favorite Things…

Adding to the home away from home feel were the amenities.

How many locations hand you an ipad on arrival to use for the duration of your stay? The Captain Fairfield Inn was a first for me. The ipad was loaded with apps that helped familiarize me with Kennebunkport, the inn and gave me the opportunity to browse other Lark Hotels’ locations.

Breakfast was fantastic and consisted of freshly made, small plates that you could mix and match. This was no “one boring plate serves all” scenario. From lemon-ginger scones, sea salt & cracked pepper biscuits and sweet breads to coconut and currant oatmeal, caprese baked eggs with basil and tomato, and a berry granola salad… breakfast was worth getting up for.

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Then there was the coffee station and wine nook located just off the dinning room.

After 3pm, all I could smell throughout the first floor were the freshly baked cookies waiting to be devoured in the coffee station… and devour, I did.

In the adjacent wine nook, there was a fridge full of complimentary sodas and a counter full of freshly made pastries.

Wine and beer were available for purchase, but the thing I loved most about it was that it was all accounted for by honor system. Grab your beverage(s) of choice, then write your name, room number, date and quantity on a sheet fixed to the refrigerator door.

Trust & honesty… Two things there aren’t enough of these days.

Helping myself to a couple of cookies and a glass of red, I ended each night at the Captain Fairfield in front of a fireplace in the privacy of my own room.

I couldn’t think of a better way to end a long day!

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Out and About…

Location. Location. Location.

Tucked away on a quiet street, the inn was barely a five-minute walk from the center of town. I literally parked my car at the inn and there it sat for my entire stay.

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I spent my days bouncing from art gallery to art gallery and popping into just about every boutique Kennebunkport had to offer. When it came to great food, there was no shortage.

While Maine is known worldwide for its lobst-ah… I am known locally for my sweet tooth. So, of course two stops were of the sugary variety. From pigging out on dark chocolate and salted caramel ice cream at Rococo’s to watching the world go by with a hot chocolate and pastry at Mornings in Paris… my cavities were in heaven.

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Morning in Paris

Since leaving Maine without having some form of seafood would be the sin of all sins, I decided to splurge on a dinner at Hurricane.

Table for one please!

A candle lit table over looking the water as the sun set… bread paired with a seasoned oil, a wedge salad and a glass of red to start. The main, baked haddock paired with mushroom risotto… What more could a girl ask for?

Besides the company of her handsome Aussie… of course!

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Breaking Misconceptions…

As a New Englander (born and raised), the area has played a big part in making me who I am.

It is my heart.

Having said that, it is funny how you can live in an area your whole life and not really know it. To me, and many others, Kennebunkport is the Bush family compound-a presidential hideaway. It is a well-known, picturesque town with old money.

With money, comes the expectation of snootiness.

…How wrong was I.

I cannot tell you how many genuine conversations I got into with locals, especially shopkeepers or fellow restaurant patrons a table over. And it wasn’t the forced conversation for the sake of conversation either, which is my least favorite thing in the world.

People actually acknowledged each other.

They stopped what they were doing to say hello, to ask how you’re doing or to crack a joke. People’s faces weren’t buried in a phone or avoiding eye contact… they were relaxed and welcomed interaction. Taking in the beachy, seaside setting, their laid back nature was contagious.

I honestly felt like I was on another planet, one much friendlier than I am used to.

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When it comes to escaping your normal day to day for a little time away… there are times when you just need a place to drop your bags and then there are times you want a place that will enhance your overall experience.

The Captain Fairfield Inn is a special place where history meets the modern world, allowing guests to step back into simpler times while giving them the ability to stay connected.

I couldn’t have found a better place to hide while not really hiding at all. Hidden-in-plain-sight, The Captain Fairfield Inn gave me a chance to get away from the day-to-day stress and minutia to explore the history and culture of a unique seaside town.

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The South Shire Inn in Bennington, Vermont

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South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be booked at the South Shire Inn following an event in Bennington, Vermont. Having checked out the inn’s website weeks before my stay, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my grandmother along for a bit of a girl’s weekend.

Designed by William C. Bull, this beautiful 1887 Victorian inn was originally owned by Louis A. Graves. Located at 124 Elm St. in Bennington, Vermont, the home was beautifully renovated and lovingly looked after by it’s current owners and caretakers.

3a. Lobby

Entryway at the South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

Walking through the front door into the lobby, I honestly fell in love. From the wooden dutch door, oval windows, wall paper, window seats, antique furniture and reception desk my grandmother and I felt like we stepped back in time.

While we stood in the lobby admiring the over all charm of the place we were greeted by the owner.

As she introduced herself, I could tell she was a bit thrown off by the fact there were two of us checking into the Peach Room. She was only expecting me…

3. Lobby

South Shire Inn Reception Desk: Photo by Kris Williams

This was my mistake.

When the event manager put me up in this location, I never told him I was bringing my grandmother. However, when I was sent the booking confirmation it stated it was booked for two guests-which is pretty standard in most accommodations even if there is only one guest checking in.

Having stayed in so many hotels, I hadn’t thought much of letting the inn or the event manager know I would be bringing a guest with me. I just figured it would be fine, forgetting the fact inn’s are a bit different than an impersonal hotel with 50 rooms.

Inns tend to be more one on one with their guests, more personable and tend to include breakfast.

Rather than get cranky about the fact I slipped up, the owner was very sweet. She simply stated, “Oh, there are two of you! …the bed is kind of small…” and then went on to apologize about the stairs.

While the staircase is absolutely beautiful, I will say if you have a hard time climbing stairs it would be smart to book a room on the first floor. While grandma did get up and down them OK… being 91, a room on the first floor would have been a smarter option.

Again-mistake on my part!

Now for the room…

1. Bedroom

The Peach Room at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

Excuse our bags and random soda bottle… eventually I will learn to take photos of a location BEFORE we get settled…such a newbie…

Regardless… as you can see, the room was warm, comfortable and decorated for the time period. My grandmother and I spent a good amount of time admiring the ornate details in the wood and metal work on both the bed and bedside tables.

Once you have a look at the wall paper in the room, it’s pretty obvious why the room is called the Peach Room. The color wasn’t overwhelming at all though… the light carpet, white curtains, ceiling and trim balanced the color well giving the room a clean, crisp, bright and cozy feel.

1a. Bedroom

The Peach Room at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

The bed… while it was small in size (full), my grandmother and I fit on it just fine. The mattress wasn’t bad, firm but comfortable. I tend to like mattresses that are like pillows (even though my back hates them) but it really is a matter of preference.

Overall, neither of us had any complaints.

Besides… the antique bed came with a pretty cool roommate…

1c. Bedroom

Phooooone Hoooommme at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

While I laid in bed resting from our 2.5 hour drive to Vermont, Grandma setup in a comfy upholstered armchair reading the guestbook to me. I was just about to doze off when I heard her say…

“Hey! …It’s that go home alien!!”

That’s right-stay in the Peach Room at the South Shire Inn and you too can bunk with E.T.!

2. Bathroom

Peach Room Bathroom at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

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Peach Room Bathroom at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

The bathroom was large, bright and clean with plenty of storage and closet space. Looking at the bathroom’s layout, it was obvious that it was once a small bedroom converted into a bathroom.

There was one detail in the bathroom that had my grandmother and I laughing… check out the window near the toilet and the white wicker bench. Notice it is literally floor level?

From what the Inn owner told me, this was a typical feature of Queen Anne style homes. Windows were placed where they looked good on the outside of the home… but that didn’t always mean their placement in the house made sense.

It definitely added a bit of character to the room… however, keep in mind-this room is on the second floor. If the window shade is up, you have an amazing view down of the parking lot… from the toilet.

Which also means… for any unlucky guest who just happens to look up from the parking lot-there you are in all your glory sitting on your peach room throne!

While slightly hilarious, closing the shade is a good idea.

4. Dinningroom

Breakfast Room at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

One of the things that was repeated over and over again in the guestbook was the “delicious” breakfast, so of course grandma and I couldn’t leave without giving it a go!

We made our way down for breakfast about a half hour before it ended which was nice because the room wasn’t loud or crowded. In fact, we were just getting seated as everyone else was leaving.

Looking around the room we were again in awe of the old workmanship… you just don’t see detail like it anymore. The decorative, cream colored walls, 10 foot ceilings, wooden floor, colorful carpet and linens… and again the antique furniture…

“This definitely wasn’t a Williams’ house…” Grandma said joking, noting that not everyone lived in homes like this in the 1880’s.

That’s when the owner mentioned the home was owned by a family of bankers. While the main part of the house was built in 1887, an addition was added in the early 1900’s by the same family which included the breakfast room and the equally impressive library.

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Library at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

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Sherry and a good book by the fire at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

The breakfast you ask?

It was as delicious as all the previous guests had stated in the guestbook.

Breakfast started with a fruit plate of melon and strawberries along with buttermilk poppy seed coffee cake and your choice of coffee or juice. The poppy coffee cake was ridiculously good… and luckily it didn’t keep me from passing my work related drug test three days later.

Next up was a broccoli, cheddar quiche with sausage and a choice of toast.

We had zero complaints with breakfast-left full and happy!

1b. Bedroom

Peach Room Guest Book at South Shire Inn: Photo by Kris Williams

Overall, the owners of the South Shire Inn were helpful, friendly and accommodating. The Peach Room was spacious, beautifully decorated, comfortable and included a large bathroom. The guestbook didn’t lie-breakfast was delicious and the inn’s location was central to a lot of Bennington’s attractions and sites (many of which were in walking distance).

In my opinion, the South Shire Inn provides an enjoyable step back into the past with all the modern conveniences. It’s a great place to book if you are looking for a romantic getaway or a girls weekend in southern Vermont!

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Night In The Berkshires: The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

After a big lunch at the Freight Yard Pub, my grandmother and I waddled into The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa to check into our room.

This was the second time I was booked at Porches for work and the main reason I asked my grandmother to join me on the trip. I knew she would love and enjoy the inn as much as I had.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Located in North Adams, Massachusetts, The Porches Inn was once a dilapidated block of Victorian row houses used by local mill workers.

Inspired by MASS MoCa (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), each building was beautifully renovated; structurally keeping its Victorian charm while gaining an updated and edgy twist through the use of color and decor.

Connected by long verandas, each building was assigned it’s own exterior color. These colors give the inn a playful look from the street while giving you small taste of what’s in store just inside it’s doors.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Walking up to the front desk, I pointed a table out to my grandmother that held a plate of fresh baked cookies. As I was busy checking us in, I looked over to have a peek at my grandmother, who grabbed two cookies… then after a look around, grabbed two more.

Note to Porches: When the Williams’ are in town, hide your baked goods.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Grabbing our bags we made our way down to the gray colored building and entered using our security key.

One of the many fun features of the inn are the hallways.

Even though you are inside the building you get the feeling you are still outside on a porch. Looking up from the first floor you will find porches that run along the second floor rooms, which can be accessed by a staircase in the hall. Along the walls of the hallway you will find windows. These windows give guests the ability to look out from their rooms into the hall.

For those worried about hallway peeking toms, all the rooms have blinds so there’s no need to worry!

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Using our key (real, metal key-not a cheap plastic card) we entered our “Deluxe Standard” room.

It was beautiful.

Grandma and I wheeled our bags in and tucked them away in the closet. She had a seat in a chair by the window with a magazine while I sank into the giant king sized bed. We both sat chatting, poking fresh baked cookies into our faces while groaning over our full burger bellies from lunch.

It was pretty funny.

Starting with the key, our room had a few details that we really got a kick out of… a second was this giant window in the wall that separated the bathroom and the bedroom. Lucky the glass was frosted so there were no scary views but it didn’t keep us from being silly about it.

The third detail my grandmother noticed. While hanging out in the room, she spotted a painting on the wall that had hinges on one side of the frame. Having a look, she pulled at the opposite side of the frame to find a safe hidden behind it.

What can I say, they were cute features and we are easily amused.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

the porches inn at mass moca

Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

The first time I stayed at Porches, I was placed in a one bedroom suite that looked a lot like the photos above… it was awesome.

There was a sitting room that included a sofa, chair, television and desk to work at. The bedroom was huge and the bed was beyond comfortable… to the point work was lucky I remembered to show up!

As an added surprise, the bathroom was a lot larger than I expected. Being a female with all the extra crap I drag around, it was nice to have a decent amount of counter space and… a large tub.

Heaven.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Getting all nerdy on you for a second… While working away at the desk, I really enjoyed looking out at the old mill.

It made me wonder, what was day to day life like working in the mill? And what about the workers that lived in these buildings? Especially in the room I was occupying…

There is something to be said about older buildings… so much more interesting to stay in an inn over some chain, lackluster hotel.

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

For breakfast, Porches provides it’s guests with two choices.

You can either get your lazy butt out of bed to enjoy a buffet in their cozy breakfast area OR you can have breakfast delivered to your room in retro, metal lunchboxes.

Super cute…

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Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

the porches inn at mass moca

Photo Courtesy of The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa

Before heading out to the Norman Rockwell Museum, my grandmother and I choose to start our day in the breakfast area. Breakfast consisted of a variety of juices, coffee, breads for toast, cheese, fruits, cereals and hard-boiled eggs.

Overall, I love The Porches Inn at MASS MoCa for it’s artsy feel without the artsy attitude. The rooms were clean, comfortable, cozy and full of character. The staff was helpful and friendly.

My one and only complaint?

Having to check out.