Azure waters in exotic, tropical settings are not required for romantic retreats, as hidden domestic gems on the East Coast provide luxurious, pampering spa treatments designed for overnighting couples, who can also wander through fragrant gardens in full bloom while staying at a nearby welcoming, country inn.
Romantic Escape at The Castle Hotel and Spa
Tarrytown, New York
You can imagine yourself living in a fairytale at The Castle Hotel and Spa. This 120-year old fortress — inspired by Norman fortifications in Wales, Scotland and Ireland — is perched on a hilltop above Tarrytown, but a short drive north of New York City.
Originally known as Carrollcliffe, The Castle — celebrating its 20th year as a sought-after boutique hotel and fine dining establishment — was built as a spectacular residence overlooking the Hudson River for General Howard Carroll, a military man, playwright and journalist who enjoyed entertaining overseas dignitaries in impressive rooms such as the Great Hall, with its colorful, painted wooden panels embellishing the vaulted ceiling.
Indulgence is still the essence of the experience today, with multi-course dinners in the Oak Room of the award-winning Equus Restaurant. Executive Chef Foster Lukas creates melt-in-your-mouth dinners featuring seasonal, local ingredients: velvety butternut squash soup, heavenly mushroom risotto and succulent, roasted duck breast.
This property has a relatively new jewel in its crown, the stylish Thann Spa. This Asian-accented, airy building offers chic, contemporary lamps made from silk cocoons and inviting, lounge chairs crafted in artful wicker designs to sink into before and after treatments.
The Castle Hotel and Spa, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a romantic place to relax and restore amid an air of royalty.
Castle Hotel and Spa
400 Benedict Ave
Tarrytown, New York, 10591
Relaxing Getaway at Inn at Whitewing Farm
West Chester, Pennsylvania
For those in search of solitude, consider an informal getaway to Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, where the welcoming Inn at the Whitewing Farm offers 10 well-appointed guest rooms — mostly decorated in an equestrian theme — scattered among three buildings on an 18th century former dairy farm.
Whitewing Farm features a pond, pool and tennis court, complemented by the natural splendors of the grounds themselves, where guests can encounter well-known local groundhogs named Meatball and Pork Chop. At the pond can be found ducks Samantha and Sam, and even koi named Sonny and Cher.
Friendly chef/owner Lance Shortt prepares excellent, home-cooked breakfasts and caters special events or pre-arranged dinners (romantic or group) at this countryside B&B, conveniently located next door to the revered Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.
Fine dining options abound in the historic Brandywine Valley. The Whip Tavern in Coatesville provides tasty specialties from Britain (bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, Welsh rarebit) or an impressive, artisanal cheese board featuring local products from the Doe Run Farms and cider on tap served amid an ambience exuding casual charm. The Gables in Chadds Ford offers a magical medley of roasted local mushrooms served with a creamy goat cheese sauce, delectable grilled salmon sliders on mini-croissants and a mouthwatering fig tart dotted with ice cream and raspberries, which may be enjoyed al fresco alongside the stone fire pits.
Fine dining or casual fare is available at Sovana Bistro, a chic restaurant in Kennett Square with hearty farm-to-table selections like market greens salad with dried cranberries, radish slivers and shaved pecorino cheese, delicious amuse-bouche surprises and daring desserts pairing pink peppercorns with Habanero-coconut gelato atop a pineapple upside-down cake.
Inn at Whitewing Farm
370 Valley Rd.,
West Chester, Pennsylvania, 19382
Sensory Delight at Longwood Gardens
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Longwood Gardens offers a world-class celebration of horticulture featuring 11,000 plants, whimsical topiary displays and colorful changing exhibits on an expansive property encompassing over 1,000 acres.
The restored Italian water garden fountains (with illuminated shows in the spring and summer) are a hydraulic masterpiece originally created by visionary philanthropist Pierre du Pont, who bought the property to save its fine collection of trees from demise.
On view at Longwood through March is the dazzling orchid extravaganza, an artful display set in the property’s majestic, four-acre conservatory. It features orchids from around the globe in a rainbow of pastels and saturated hues, some with patterns appearing to be hand-painted rather than of nature’s own designs.
This inspirational garden is a romantic sensorial experience, leaving viewers truly refreshed and restored.
1001 Longwood Rd.
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 19348
Iris Brooks is a travel and arts writer who has explored all seven continents. Learn more about her and photographer Jon H. Davis at NLScreativemedia.com.