We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

We are a family of 4 including kids 15 and 12; 3 golfers. We are considering either Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods or The Balsam's for a 7-9 day vacation in August. Can't decide which or maybe do both? Any thoughts either way?

Southern New...
Level Contributor
511 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

Have never stayed at either so I can't offer in depth comments. I'm sure others will offer better info on this one. Both are old Grand Hotels that are true NH classics in the Northern New England tradition. What I can offer is that Bretton Woods is closer to other things to do while The Balsam's is more Northen and more remote. Both are beautiful. I don't see a loser in the decision.

9 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

I have stayed in both, although they are both beautiful Inns, I feel a little over the top in cost for a golf and pleasure outing. There are 2 other Inns both of which are in the middle of golf courses and are both within reach of Franconia, Littleton and just about anything else you can do outdoors. The first one I would look at is the Ammonoosuc Inn - www.ammonoosucinn.com and the other is Sunset Hill House www.sunsethillhouse.com

Ammonoosuc Inn is owned by a Chef and has two restaurants on-site as well as the golf course

Sunset Hill has a restaurant and golf course, but the food is not nearly as good as the Ammonoosuc.

Both are great choices, for a wonderful vacation

Level Contributor
167 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

I have stayed at both of these grand hotels. I much prefer the Mount Washington Hotel. The Balsams is too far north... hard to find anything to do once you leave the property, including a restaurant. The Mount Washington is not too far from anything you may want to visit in the White Mtns. Enjoy!

1 post
Save Reply
4. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

Why would you leave the Balsams for a different restaurant? My goodness...

I have been to both hotels. In my opinion the Balsams is supirior for golf, nightly entertainment, daily activities and far supirior as far as food goes.

The Mt.Washington has better occomodations and probably a better location if your looking to leave the hotel; however at the balsams everyting it right there for you. I would say the service is a little bit better at the Balsams, and their childrens program is GREAT.

New Hampshire
Level Contributor
98 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

The Balsams has recently come under new management and I've heard a few comments that the quality of service and the responsiveness to management "isn't what it used to be". The Mt. Washington has also recently been sold, but the old management is still in the driver's seat and the reports continue to be good.

With teens, I'd suggest the Mt. Washington only because there is much more to do in the area on a 7 - 9 day visit...check out the White Mountain Attractions website

http://www.visitwhitemountains.com/ for a good source of off property activities.

Recommendations would be Whales Tale Waterpark, Flume, Cannon Mt. Tramway, Lost River Gorge (instead of Polar Caves) and Clark's Trading Post. Don't bother with 6-Gun City - dusty dull theme park with only a couple of highlights - laser tag, go-carts, one decent water slide; Hobo Railroad - one track rail passing through woods, runs by the town's sewage treatment plant, ends at a golf course then back the same route...better train ride is the Cog or Conway Scenic...Cog is probably the best, but also the most expensive - drawback is the cost and limited time on summit, although you can stay longer, just might end up sitting on the floor as space for the ride back down might not have any seating for you. Consider Santa's Village - may be a bit beat for the 15 year old, but park is trying to upgrade attractions to appeal to older kids.

One added tip on the Cog...don't book in advance - weather is a major limiting factor on the Cog...for the ride to be worth it...you need to be assured good views from the summit...on a 7 - 9 day visit, watch the weather reports and plan your trip on the Cog for a day that has a good shot at clear skies. You can almost always be assured a seat, if you can be flexible on your departure times.

Level Contributor
6 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

The Balsalms is in upstate NH and a long ways from anything. The Mt. Washington Hotel area is more centrally located (as the White Mountains go). But if you have a week, maybe a trip to both places is worth it. Mt. Washington hotel is very upscale and full of history. Views are spectacular. It's a good 2 hour drive between locations. Enjoy!

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
114 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

Here are the tradeoffs:

Mt. Washington: -- closer to towns and other activities, but much more commercial. The food (I've eaten 2x at the casual restaurant, was embarassingly bad. Great views.

The Balsams -- have stayed several times (winter trips). The building is beautiful, but not quite as impressive as the Mt. Washington. Nor is there the wonderful sweeping view from the hotel (although the golf course has them). The food is incredibly good -- world class. Unlike the Mt Washington, few people other than guests use the facility, so it has an intimate feel.

Just a thought -- since you're going to be out and about for over a week, why not split your time between both? One other thought would be to do one of these for half a week and then go to one of the other great restored NH resorts -- Wentworth-by-the-Sea. Nearby POrtsmouth has tons to do and they have a nice golf course. That way you'd experience the diversity of NH.

Salem, MA
Level Contributor
196 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

jefferson inn in jefferson close to bretton woods and a stone's throw from santa's village. beautiful inn, 13 bedrooms with private baths, very reasonable, country breakfast, quiet, beautiful wrap-around porch.

Level Contributor
20 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

I love the Balsams, and have not stayed at the Mt Wash (have heard great things from my friends though). Where you have teenagers, and a 7-9 day stay, I think I'd vote against the Balsams, mainly due to location - if you get bored after 3 or 4 days you are absolutely stuck unless you are really heavy duty outdoorspeople. There is no shopping, museums, fun parks, etc around it. I have stayed at the Balsams in both summer and winter, and do like it more in the winter ... ski and cold air, then come in to a fabulous dinner ... wonderful.

Augusta, Maine
Level Contributor
180 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Bretton Woods vs. The Balsams for August family vacation

I vote for the Mt. Washington. Much more centrally located. Probably haunted, too. Great views.