Western Maine, the lobster state’s “other coast,” is dotted with lakes, rivers and Sunday River, a behemoth of a ski resort, well worth the 3.5 hour drive north from Boston. A skier’s delight in the winter and a hiking, biking, golf and canoeing Mecca in the summer, Bethel also offers a distinctive group of B&Bs and inns. I lived in Bethel (in another chapter of my life) and have skied at Sunday River for years, but never had the opportunity to tour B&Bs here until this weekend. While choosing between the slopes or the inns was a tough choice on a crystal clear day, hospitality won out and I was pleased I made the right choice. Listed in order of my tour stops, here’s a look at four fabulous B&Bs all offering ideal accommodations to Sunday River skiers and Western Maine explorers.
Bethel Hill Bed and Breakfast: A beautifully renovated Cape, just beyond the Village Green, look for three lovely guest rooms and plenty of common area here. Ask innkeeper Scott Gould about the best skiing secrets at Sunday River; he’s been a ski instructor there for 16 years. Perfect for those seeking a romantic getaway; this adult-oriented inn is within walking distance of Bethel’s attractive shops and restaurants. Look for handmade furniture, suites, and plenty of common area in which to relax. When I was there, I spied some mighty tasty looking cookies for guests too!
The Briar Lea Inn and Jolly Drayman Restaurant: Located in a 150 year old farmhouse, this inn, restaurant and pub is ideal for those who love a location close to Sunday River with an active après ski atmosphere. Providing decidedly British fare with a wide selection of beers, ales and spirits in the pub for both guests and the public, the restaurant is a real draw here. Six comfortable guestrooms offer everything from adjoining rooms for families to comfy four-poster beds with electric fireplaces for a romantic touch. All rooms feature private baths, free wi-fi and TVs with DVDs and an extensive DVD library. Pets are welcomed.
Sudbury Inn: Here’s another example of a combination inn, restaurant and pub. The expansive dining room serves fine cuisine while the lower level pub offers more casual fare and live music on the weekends. A wide variety of guest rooms are offered, ranging from economic standards to spacious two-bedroom suites, and a comfortable apartment that sleeps six to eight. Walk to everything in Bethel from here or catch the Explorer bus up to Sunday River. The pub in the lower level is a favorite apres ski and evening watering hole for guests and the public. Enjoy live music there on the weekends.
The Victoria Inn & Restaurant: As its name suggests, this Victorian style mansion offers fine dining and guest rooms reminiscent of a bygone era. Accommodations range from spacious standard rooms with private baths to loft style rooms with queen beds plus an upper loft with full and twin beds, ideal for families who are always welcomed here. There are two living room/parlors where guests can relax, and free wi-fi is available throughout the inn. A full breakfast with three entrée options is served in the welcoming breakfast room. Guests receive ten-percent off in the dining room.
Chapman Inn: Located in Bethel's historic district, overlooking the village commons, this inn offers many guest rooms accommodating families and groups traveling together. Known for its ghost stories, it offers the perfect casual accommodations for hikers and skiers alike. Unlike any of the other inns visited, the Chapman Inn also offers a dorm, with semi-private sleeping areas on three levels accommodating groups up to 30. Stay at one of the inn suites with wiith wide screen TVs, free wi-fi and rates starting at $59 per night, or in the dorm for $35 per person. All rates include a full breakfast, plus the chance to possibly meet one of the active spirits that haunt the inn.
For more INNformation:
Bethel Hill B&B, 66 Broad Street, Bethel, ME 04217, (207) 824-2461
Briar Lea Inn and Jolly Drayman Restaurant, 150 Mayville Road, Bethel, ME 04217, (877) 311-1299
Sudbury Inn, 151 Main Street, Bethel, ME 04217, (207) 824-2174
The Victoria Inn & Restaurant, 32 Main St. , Bethel, Maine 04217, 888-774-1235
Chapman Inn, On the Commons, PO Box 1067, Bethel, ME 04217-0206, 207-824-2657
For more information on things to do in Bethel:
Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce
Sunday River Ski Resort