32 miles from Philadelphia (45 minutes by car)
We’ve never strolled through a hotel quite the way we strolled through the Inn at Montchanin Village: out-of-doors all the way. The inn’s 11 buildings — Winterthur estate workers’ houses refitted to a level of luxury the original inhabitants (gunpowder workers for the du Ponts) could only have dreamed of — dot four ripe acres that lure even the most jittery corporateer to leave the BlackBerry on the nightstand and walk.
We checked in, and time and care fell away; everything a soul could want was immediately at hand. It took all of two minutes along a cobblestone allée draped with honeysuckle and ivy to find an excellent dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Krazy Kat’s — a memorable meal of seared-scallop-and-foie-gras sliders (served with a thimbleful of sauterne) and crackly crème brûlée. Later, consumed by the onerous task of deciding which of the Brandywine Valley’s mushroom patch of museums to hit the next morning, we had a brilliant excuse to amble once more across the grounds for a post-dinner tipple in the Adirondacks-inspired Gathering Room. To cap the night, we dipped our hands — more than once — into an old-fashioned metal scale brimming with Hershey’s Kisses inside the reception area, which never closes.
Book it: Route 100 and Kirk Road, 302-888-2133, montchanin.com.
Rooms: 28 rooms and suites.
Rate per night: $185 to $399.
Snacks: Mini-fridge with complimentary water and soda in rooms; coffee, tea, hot chocolate, biscotti and Hershey’s Kisses in the main building. Meals on-site: Though it feels like a homey B&B, Montchanin is actually a boutique inn, meaning breakfast isn’t included in the standard room rate. It is, however, served on-site, as are lunch and dinner at Krazy Kat’s — ask to sit in the sunroom. (They’ll also provide room service.)
Don’t miss: The brand-new 3,000-square-foot spa facilities with a full menu of massages, reflexology, facials, and a “Japanese Body Ritual” with sea algae and ginger grass.
Props: Montchanin, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, was named the world’s best hotel under $250 by Travel + Leisure in 2006.
While away the hours: Museums, museums and more museums — Hagley, Winterthur, Delaware Museum of Natural History, Delaware Art Museum, Nemours Mansion & Gardens.