When New Yorkers Adrianna and Robert Mnuchin retired, he from investment banking
and she from retailing, they wanted to try a joint venture. With their passion
for landscaping and collecting and their fondness for English manors and French
auberges, they decided to open a European-style country house near their
weekend home in Connecticut. The Mnuchins bought the shuttered
Washington Inn and almost completely rebuilt it. The exterior
turn-of-the-century gray and white American shingle-style looks much as it did
in 1920 when the inn first opened. But inside, you could be in the Cotswolds
or in Burgundy.
To create the Mayflower style the Mnunchins scoured the shops and galleries of
France, England and the States gathering treasures as well as inspiration. Together
with Mariette Himes Gomez, an interior designer, they created 25 different bedrooms
and suites, a restaurant and a series of public rooms –lobby, parlors, game room
and library. All are dramatic and elegant. Like Europe's great country houses, which
were originally family estates, Mayflower Inn bears the imprimatur of the owners.
The conspicuous personal touches of the Mnuchins as more than just innkeepers are
evident. The hallways and the landings of the grand mahogany staircase are filled
with oil paintings, framed letters and autographs, trestle tables and chests, English
hall chairs and settees, candlesticks, mirrors and old leather luggage.
And in the bedrooms and suites are floral arrangements, Oriental carpets, canopied
antique four-poster beds, damask bedspreads, quirky clocks, old books and magazines,
toile lamps, Frette linens and Limoges china, cashmere throws on the sofas, foot
stools at the bottom of the beds, wicker furniture on the porches and tapestries
that are used as bathroom rugs.
The gardens also look as though they have been tended for generations. They were
"collected" with as much care as the furnishings. A local gardener traveled
widely to purchase specimen trees. Rising from the entrance and spilling over a terraced
hill, which leads to the tennis courts and a swimming pool, are some two dozen gardens.
Nine acres in all are filled with flowers.
The restaurant is no less inspired than the rest of the inn. We particularly liked
the Sunday night buffet with grilled swordfish and rabbit, great salads, cheeses,
house-baked breads, pastas, vegetables and desserts. A separate stone structure called
The Teahouse and styled like an Adirondack lodge serves as a corporate retreat. CEOs
in banking, publishing and fashion who need to do strategic planning away from the
office like the location, about two hours from Manhattan. The Mayflower Inn has a
full-service spa including many daily classes.
Mayflower Inn, Route 47, Washington, CT 06793. Tel. 860-868-9466 . Rates
start at $250. Corporate rates (group bookings) are $225 to $325. Suites start
at $350. www.mayflowerinn.com
Golf, horseback riding, fishing, canoeing, skiing, antique shops, museums and