Our review of Buttonwood Inn on Mt. Surprise would be mixed, I guess. The home, itself, we felt was typical of an inn or B&B in New England. While we didn’t see a view of a mountain per se, the inn is definitely secluded up on a mountainside or hillside, and is perhaps not a long walk from a mountain view. The inn is in a wooded area, which was beautiful during our fall foliage visit – and is on a quiet dirt road, which is well away from the traffic of North Conway – which is exactly what we were looking for. So, I would say quiet, woodsy, mountainside.
We actually thought the décor of our room and the home was lovely. Our room had very good quality bed linens and the towels in the bath were thick and fluffy. I thought the wallpaper in our room, in the bathroom, and in the dining room was all lovely and well done, and coordinated with the corresponding linens, etc. I will say that the walls are a bit thin (we could clearly hear a phone conversation in the room next door) – but that’s not unexpected in an old New England home, we have found. Even though the inn was full during our stay, we found it, overall, to be eerily quiet – we even felt like if we turned on the TV in our room in the evening, that it would disturb the other guests.
However, the entire home was very clean – which is probably a lot of work, for a home this size.
The dining room where breakfast and afternoon refreshments are served was also lovely – the tables are set with gold charger plates, glass goblets, cloth napkins, etc.
In addition, the breakfasts we were served the two mornings we were at the Inn were exactly as advertised on their website under “Gourmet Breakfasts” – one day we had a slice of Banana Coconut bread along with a serving of an oven baked cheese omelet with a side of pureed broccoli (not our favorite – pretty bland). And, the other day we had a cup of fruit salad with raspberry puree and a Yeasted Belgian Waffle with real maple syrup and a slice of bacon. I have to say the waffles were probably the best waffles I have ever had – “lighter than air” describes them perfectly!
The afternoon sweets were yummy – one afternoon there were cookies, and one afternoon there were delicious frosted cupcakes, as well as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Wish they would have been left out a little longer!
They also did have a notebook with local restaurant menus available for guests to review.
Now, for the BUT:
Although the innkeepers have posted online numerous times about lighting a fire in one or both fireplaces, there was no offer to light a fire when we were there for two nights, including one rainy evening! It certainly would have been a nice, cozy touch.
Also, when you leave the inn each day, you have to leave your room key at the inn. I don’t know if that’s because they think you’ll lose the key, or if that’s how they tell who is at home or what. It just seemed a bit unusual.
In our room and in the common living room, there were magazines, but not what I would expect to see for a relaxing weekend in the country – they were Time magazine, Forbes, Fortune, etc. No “light” reading - like a country living magazine, or a gardening or home magazine, etc. I think this harkens back to the “former lives” of the innkeepers – who came to the inn from “the corporate world”. When I go to a B&B or an Inn, I don’t want to read about the latest dire headlines or stock market plunges – that’s what I am trying to get away from for a couple of days!
But, the main issue we had with this stay was the standoffishness of the innkeepers. We didn’t get a warm, homey feeling from them at all – on the contrary, we got more of a feeling that they treated the inn as a business, period.
We barely met Paula, and in the couple of interactions we had with her, she barely spoke. Obviously, she is an excellent cook. It’s too bad she didn’t want to come out to visit and receive some compliments from her guests, and get to know us a bit. I don’t know if she’s shy, or she was overwhelmed with work or just not interested.
Bill seemed very happy to see us when we arrived, and very happy to see us off when we left. Other than that, I would describe him as “gruff”. He never once asked what we had done during the day, how our lunches or dinners off property were (even though we went to a restaurant he recommended), or if there was anything they could do to make our stay more pleasant, etc. We tried making conversation with him at one point, and were almost ignored. Basically, it seemed like they spent their evenings in the kitchen/innkeepers quarters (with the TV on!), and didn’t really want to interact with the guests other than when necessary (i.e. – when Bill served breakfast, for example).
During the time we were there, we never once saw either of them smile. As I say, this is not at all the image they project on their web presence, so perhaps we just caught them at a time of exhaustion, I don’t know. Or, perhaps just marketing fluff on the web.
So, in summary, I would say Buttonwood Inn on Mt. Surprise is a lovely, clean, quiet home, secluded in the woods, and serves a very nice breakfast, as well as delicious sweets in the afternoon. If you are looking for a complete B&B/Inn experience where you get to know the innkeepers during your stay, and feel like you made new friends during your visit, that was certainly not our experience here.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- If you enjoy nature and the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains and forest, The Buttonwood Inn on Mt. Surprise offers that and more while being close to everything. We are situated on more than five secluded acres of field and forests, two miles from the village of North Conway. Our hiking trails on Bartlett Mountain are accessed out our back door where you can follow the myriad of intersecting trails for hours. Within five minutes, the peacefulness of the mountain trail will envelope you. The Buttonwood Inn has been a Select Registry member since 1999. In 2013, The Buttonwood Inn became a member of the Diamond Collection. The Daily Meal named The Buttonwood Inn as one of "The Top 50 US Bed-and-Breakfasts for Food" in May 2013. The Buttonwood Inn has been awarded the Best of New England 2010-11 and Best Food 2009-10. In October 2010, Travel Channel listed The Buttonwood Inn as one of the "Top 10 New England Bed and Breakfasts." ... more less
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