Once the private retreat of Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis and his journalist wife, Dorothy Thompson, Barnard, Vermont’s Twin Farms has long been known as a luxurious playground for travelers, this year receiving its 24th Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating.
The 20-room property, an adults-only, all-inclusive escape, is one of our favorites for getting away from it all. Just 90 minutes from the closest major airport and an easy weekend drive from major cities like New York, Boston and Montreal, Twin Farms offers a much-needed escape from the stresses of everyday life, whether you seek a wellness weekend, an epicurean retreat, a romantic getaway or simply a spot to do nothing at all.
Selecting your favorite among Twin Farms’ rooms and cottages might be the hardest — and most important — part of your stay. Each designed in distinct style, accommodations range in theme from the Moroccan-inspired Meadow cottage, complete with a tented fabric ceiling, to the Aviary, which is decked out in bird-themed décor, a wood stove, a fireplace and its own stone hot tub.
Rooms are spacious — even the smallest is an impressive 560 square feet — and are fully stocked with a coffee bar and a complimentary array of sodas, juices, beer, wine and snacks. Nearly all have wood-burning fireplaces and perks like deep-soaking tubs, but despite the Vermont wilderness setting, “rustic” is the last descriptor that comes to mind.
During our most recent stay, we were in the Barn Cottage, a Scandinavian-like space with bi-level living, soaring 18-foot ceilings with cathedral windows overlooking the meadows and a double-sided fireplace between the living area and bedroom.
To say that this is a resort built for foodies would be an understatement. Food at Twin Farms is quite possibly the singular highlight of the trip. Unless you desire otherwise, all meals are served in the main dining rooms, with an à la carte menu available only for breakfast.
Days begin with a hearty repast — soufflé pancakes, in ever-changing flavors ranging from lemon ricotta to almond espresso, are a signature specialty. Cocktail hour makes each night feel somewhat festive, as you and your fellow guests nosh on passed canapés before proceeding into dinner as you wish.
Lunch and dinner are both designed daily by chef Nathan Rich as multi-course sessions inspired by local flavors and the seasons. Recent highlights ranged from locally caught rabbit to well-seared tuna served with soba noodles and a flavorful dashi broth, all available with optional wine pairings that tend toward the innovative. A single meal might include pours from France, Oregon, Italy and New Zealand.
Perfectly plated, dishes are presented in tasting-menu style, but with portion sizing that reflects the fact that you’ve most likely been taking part in rigorous outdoor activities during the day. Meals can also be taken in the comfort of your cottage or elsewhere on property, if desired —picnics and boxed lunches are popular requests.
The Local Area
Despite the all-inclusive nature of the property, we’d highly suggest you spend at least a half day exploring the surrounding area — perhaps on your way in or out of town. Most guests will come by car (although a helipad is available), and it’s easy to reach anything you’ll want to see within a 45-minute radius.
For a quick afternoon, pop into the nearby town of Woodstock or visit Quechee, which is home to the Simon Pearce glass-blowing factory. Watch artisans at work and peruse the flagship store.
Did you sleep well at the boutique hotel? The linens are all by luxe Italian sheet maker Anichini, whose headquarters is just around the corner from Simon Pearce.
Shackleton Thomas, a furniture, pottery and accessories brand, is also close by in the town of Bridgewater, and provides regular tours.
While you’re here, don’t miss a stop by the Stave Puzzle factory, either. The notoriously difficult jigsaw puzzles are some of the world’s most intricate, and after spending a few evenings by the fire assembling one in your room, you just might want to grab one to take home.
Foodies may also wish to see where some of the resort’s tastiest offerings are sourced — nearby Fable Farm gives regular tours; Sugarbush Farm has great Vermont cheeses; and the well-known King Arthur Flour, in nearby Norwich, conducts regular baking classes.
If you can dream it, you can do it at Twin Farms, where your only limitation is time and your own imagination. The staff aims to please, organizing everything from puzzle competitions to guided nature walks to snowshoe hikes around the expansive property.
Twin Farms delivers four-season fun, with the exception of a six-week seasonal closure during Vermont’s less-than-attractive spring thaw of late March through April. We stopped by at the end of winter, when 18 inches of fresh snow made for wonderful skiing; the property boasts six onsite groomed trails exclusively for guest use. There’s also a Sherpa, a private snowmobile, to carry you back up the hill at the end of each run.
Cross-country skis, ice skates, snowshoes and even L.L. Bean winter boots are available for you to use, thoughtfully laid out along with necessary cold-weather amenities like hand and foot warmers.
When the weather warms, activities grow even broader. Swim, canoe or fly fish in the stocked onsite Copper Pond; ride your bike the 10 miles (downhill) into Woodstock; or hike the 300 acres of forest and meadows that make up the resort.
If you prefer a friendly game, find croquet and tennis courts on property. Golf is nearby, too.
We also suggest a highly relaxing day, beginning with a treatment in the small, but well-appointed Four-Star Bridge House Spa, where a muscle-melting massage (one of the few activities not already included in the price) is a must, followed by a dip in the unique Japanese furo — think a hot tub sans jets.
Afterward, head over to Twiggs Pub, where you can unwind, indoors or out, by a roaring fire, play a game of pool and call for any cocktail your heart desires — we’d suggest a Maple Manhattan, made with a local maple syrup infusion.
The idea of an all-inclusive tends to call to mind quantity over quality, but, like Goldilocks, the staff at Twin Farms hits a balance that feels just right. Pre-arrival, you’ll fill out an extensive questionnaire indicating your likes and dislikes, and the staff makes it a priority to honor those requests, making substitutions for dietary restrictions discreetly.
Even housekeeping is high-touch, entering rooms through a nondescript back door while you’re off enjoying your meals, ensuring that you’ll return to a clean space, often with a special treat, such as a bottle of wine or fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, waiting.
Given the intimate size of the property, staff at times can feel like friendly camp counselors — more hands-on than many luxury resorts, often asking if you’ll be attending the next meal onsite in the main dining area or if you prefer to enjoy something in the privacy of your suite or cottage. A no-tipping policy ensures that service always feels genuine — team members truly wish to take care of your every desire.