Location Kennebunk’s more visited neighbour, Kennebunkport, lies across the Kennebunk River on Maine’s beautiful rocky coastline, just a couple of hours drive north from Boston. It is famously the ancestral home of the political Bush family, who still own an ocean side property at Walker’s Point. The Kennebunks, as the twin villages are known, also includes the Lower Village, and once away from the beaches and coastline, art galleries, restaurants, and craft shops are set in old Colonial buildings, immersing visitors in a traditional New England townscape. All of which is close to the White Barn Inn, which is set on tall tree-lined Beach Road, just a few minutes from the sea.
Lodging Originally, the White Barn Inn’s main building was a farmhouse and its storied restaurant is made up of two barns, which were moved to adjoin the farmhouse. Reputedly the farmhouse has been an inn since the Civil War era, when it was the Boothby Guest House. In 1937, by which time it was known the Forest Hill House, an annex was built, and shortly after more guest rooms were added via the bungalow “Garden Cottages,” and May’s Cottage, a cute standalone suite, which overlooks the outdoor heated pool. The are also two riverside cottages nearby. But in total, there are just 26 rooms. Being Maine, the pool is seasonal, but the inn is year-round, basically, and only closes for a couple of weeks in January. That’s good news because it means the fireplace in the cozy living room can be throughly enjoyed during the colder months. The living room has several couches and a decanter of port and one of brandy are thoughtfully provided for guests to help themselves to. Afternoon “High Tea” is also provided there, as are coffee and teas. White Barn Inn is a Relais et Chateaux member, a luxury hotel collection with a strong culinary focus.
View of a Room: 19 Room 19 is on the second floor of the annex, just across the driveway from the main inn. The large airy room is understated classic, with a fireplace and two wonderfully comfortable armchairs. The king size bed is positioned in front of the TV and a French style dresser. The only other furniture is a desk and chair — giving the room all the necessary comforts while maintaining its spaciousness. The en suite bathroom is equally grand in size, with a double vanity, a large shower with twin shower heads, separate loo, and an enormous tub. Its marbled floor has radiant heat and, like the bedroom, there is lots of natural light.
Restaurants and Bars The White Barn Inn’s restaurant is widely acclaimed, both for its food and the setting in this subtle, low lit old barn — or rather barns. Created in 1973, it is quite unique. The menu is prix fixe with a choice of a lengthy multi course tasting menu, or a more standard three courses. But with the chef’s wonderful tidbits, including an array of after dinner petit fours, even that option is a full tasting experience. Everything is made in-house and local produce is highlighted — even butter comes from a local dairy. Needless to say, the wine list holds treasures, and cocktails are superbly crafted — enjoy a drink at the cocktail bar, where a pianist plays standards. The expert staff deliver a classic dining experience in an evocative atmosphere. Adjacent to the dining room is the bistro, a more casual a la carte experience, where breakfast is served. In the summer, tables are set up on its porch. There is also a wine cellar where private dining can be arranged.
Info The White Barn Inn & Spa, 37 Beach Rd., Kennebunkport, Maine 04046. 207-967-2321. http://www.whitebarninn.com
Photo credit: Hotel Junkie