Give me a grand old hotel any time.
There are quite a few of them in the United States and Canada. If I had my way, I would spend at least a night in every one.
My fascination with North America’s legendary old hotels far precedes Somewhere in Time, the epic time-travel romance shot at The Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackanac Island (note to self: put that place on your list, too). I drove by The Omni Mt. Washington Hotel for the first time in 1969, on a long weekend in Northern New Hampshire. As I am by nature something of a yearner, for want of a better word, the image of that grande dame has stayed with me all these years. Every time we were in the area, I’d strain for a good look. Not long ago, thanks to a gift certificate from our kids, the dream came true, and we finally checked in.
Omni has a fine track record for historic restoration. This was our second experience—the first was with The Omni Bedford Springs, a magnificent, faithfully restored property built around a historic spa in the woodlands of south central Pennsylvania. You can feel the past when you linger on its elegant staircases, or amble through the lobby or library, taking in the guest book signatures and photos of 19th and early 20th Century visitors.
Perched on a plateau in Bretton Woods, in the lap of the Northeastern United States’ tallest peak (6,288 feet), The Omni Mt. Washington holds a singular place in recent history. There, in 1944, world leaders and economists from the Allied nations gathered to create a path for economic recovery from the tragic ruins of World War II. One of the hallmarks was the creation of the International Monetary Fund. You can learn more here.
We arrived late in the afternoon on a cool, cloudy day, which we’d spent traveling from Connecticut, stopping at several of our favorite Vermont haunts en route. After a light supper, we walked the lobby, where the hotel’s fascinating history is meticulously chronicled in photos and commemorative plaques. Our room was cozy and comfortable, with a beautiful view of the night sky. It was clearer than we’d expected and unfettered by ambient light.
The next morning was a breathtaking fall day, with a blue sky and completely unobstructed views. Oh, that morning light! Oh, those mountains! Oh, those beautiful wrap-around porches! Oh, that grand hotel!
As conscious steps backward in time go, a single night was, perhaps, too short a visit to truly appreciate The Omni Mt. Washington. But it was a lovely interlude and sufficient to fulfill that daydream of mine from half a century ago. Thanks Hubby, for sharing it with me. Thanks, kids, for your generous gift. Good things do come to those who wait.