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Inn Vermont: Rabbit Hill Inn

Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford offers a true Vermont luxury experience 


STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY RABBIT HILL INN


In the serene embrace of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Rabbit Hill Inn stands as a beacon of upscale tranquility, beckoning travelers in search of a luxurious escape. As one of Vermont’s premier luxury boutique inns, Rabbit Hill is not just a destination; it’s a unique hospitality experience with beautiful sights, fantastic food and drinks, and exemplary service. Amidst a panoramic tableau of verdant fields, babbling streams, and treelined mountains, guests will find themselves enveloped in a world where time slows down and the essence of the good life is truly savored. 

Stunning Suites and Signature Experiences 


Mark Lahood, the Inn’s Owner, describes Rabbit Hill as “a true Vermont luxury experience,” touting the dedicated attention to detail and sublime hospitality that defines the inn’s character. From luxurious spaces adorned with antique furnishings to resplendent rooms with rustically-refined decorative accents, guests are treated to an absolutely unforgettable stay. “Guests come here to be pampered,” notes Lahood. “We take pride in paying attention to the little details.” With personalized welcome notes, complementary Vermont-made truffles in every room, high-end amenities, and features like high-thread-count sheets and Jacuzzi bathtubs, every aspect of the guest experience is carefully considered.


“The Luxury Suites” epitomize opulence, offering spacious abodes where contemporary comfort meets classic elegance. A prime example is the Jonathan Cummings Suite, named after the original owner of the 1825 Main House. The suite exudes traditional splendor with rich hues of burgundy, teal, and soft gold. Guests can relax by the gas fireplace or unwind in the 44-jet hydro-massage tub for two. The suite’s screened porch offers a comforting oasis, which is perfect for savoring a favorite beverage while taking in breathtaking views of the Franconia Range. Designed with ADA accessibility in mind, the Turnabout Suite provides a marvelous retreat for all guests, featuring a king-size bed and gas fireplace. Perched on the third floor of the Main House, the Nest Suite is bright, airy, and perfect for romantic getaways. A private sundeck offers the chance for guests to bask in the sunshine while enjoying sweeping countryside vistas. The Loft Suite, located in the 1825 Main House, is imbued with rustic charm, boasting hand-hewn beams, a cathedral ceiling, and oversized windows looking out on the gorgeous garden. Taking its name from the original keeper of Rabbit Hill Inn, the Samuel Hodby Suite offers roomy and stylish accommodations. Guests can enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the hydro-massage tub or step out onto the shared covered porch to enjoy an unforgettable glimpse of the White Mountains. 


Rabbit Hill’s collection of “Superior Suites” feature tasteful décor with similar amenities. A stay in the Sterling Suite hearkens back to the glamorous days of the 1920s. Located in the 1825 Main House, this room exemplifies sophistication with its art deco design. The Canopy Suite features colonial styling and a spacious layout, and the Music Suite embraces retro aesthetics and artistic nostalgia. Guests in the Music Suite can enjoy a selection of vintage records on the in-room Victrola, creating an atmosphere of timeless romance. A stay in the Hampshire Suite, located in the Main House, conjures the essence of the English Countryside. With its rich wood moldings, embossed wallpaper, and antique furnishings, including a wooden writing desk, this suite serves as a superb space for both romance and reflection. 


Rabbit Hill’s “Classic Rooms” provide the perfect blend of comfort and luxury. The Rose Room, located in the Main House, features an intimate sitting area, plush four-poster bed, and wonderful garden views. In the 1795 House, the Caroline Room stuns with its Wedgewood blue hues, crisp white accents, and breathtaking mountain views. Venturing outdoors, guests who come to Rabbit Hill Inn will luxuriate in the bucolic majesty of their surroundings, with well-manicured, open areas offering ample opportunities to reconnect with nature and enjoy the fresh Vermont air. An outdoor deck with a firepit and seating area was recently installed, creating a stylish sanctuary perfect for cooler summer evenings. “It’s a beautiful extension of the indoor space,” says Lahood. Beyond the deck, Rabbit Hill’s grounds feature grassy areas with games like shuffleboard and horseshoes, inviting guests to enjoy friendly competition. A gazebo overlooking a picturesque creek provides an idyllic spot for guests to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.


In addition to a curated assortment of phenomenal rooms, suites, and outdoor spaces, Rabbit Hill Inn proudly offers a variety of enhanced experience packages, which are designed to add an extra touch of magic to any stay. “The Luxury Suite Escape” provides complete luxurious immersion, ranging from three to five-night accommodations. With a dozen roses, bespoke chocolates, and a chilled bottle of sparkling wine awaiting upon arrival, a dream Vermont getaway is easier to arrange than ever before. This dedication to delightful Vermont splendor is echoed in their “Bon Bon and Bubbles,” “Chocolate Lovers,” and “Let’s Celebrate” experiences, where Vermont-made chocolate, sweets, and bubbly decadence beckon honeymooners, loving couples, and travelers eager to indulge in the finest of what Vermont has to offer. Rabbit Hill’s indulgent spa packages span a wide panoply of pampering services, including the Bunny Hop, where aromatherapy and Swedish massage movements melt away tension. Customizable treatments can be tailored to clients’ preferences, leaving guests feeling refreshed and revitalized.


A Taste of Vermont 


The sumptuous ambience at Rabbit Hill Inn extends far beyond the guestrooms and suites. Lahood emphasizes their commitment to sourcing local products for use in the on-site restaurant and bar, 24 Carrot and The Snooty Fox, from Vermont-made truffles and chocolates to locally sourced produce and meats. Phyllis Grech, the inn’s talented baker, adds her touch to the culinary experience by crafting homemade bread, signature desserts, and house-made granola. “Phyllis is phenomenal,” says Lahood. “She’s a proud Vermonter from St. Johnsbury, and she makes all of our signature desserts and bakes her own bread in-house.” The inn’s breakfast offerings, a combination of buffet and cooked-to-order items, showcase Grech’s talent. They include lavish spreads of pastries, fresh fruits, and specialty dishes like Eggs Benedict and Apple Pancakes.


At Rabbit Hill Inn’s restaurant and pub, dining is more than just a meal; it’s a culinary journey that celebrates the agriculture and flavor of Vermont with flair and creativity. The restaurant program at 24 Carrot proudly incorporates locally-sourced ingredients, bringing the essence of the Green Mountain State to every dish. Each lovingly-made delicacy tells a story of the vibrant local gastronomic landscape. Notable selections from their seasonally-shifting menu include Aleppo pepper chili-crusted sea bass and filet of beef with rosemary fingerling potatoes. Every bite is a testament to Rabbit Hill Inn’s overarching commitment to hospitality excellence. Lavish appetizers with locally-made cheeses, like New England Artisanal Charcuterie Display and salads with Vermont Creamery goat cheese, can be followed by additional specialty entrée options, ranging from Mediterranean Statler Chicken to inventive vegan dishes such as Lion’s Mane mushroom “steak.”


For a more casual dining experience, The Snooty Fox, a welcoming, upscale British-inspired pub, offers classic tavern fare and seasonal cocktails. Hearty pub favorites like bison burgers or artisan grilled cheese sandwiches delight guests of all dietary preferences, and the tasteful ambiance and décor mirrors the high-quality cuisine. Specialty cocktails, such as the modified prohibition-era favorite, the Honey Old Fashioned, and the refreshing Vermont 75, are complemented by a rich wine list, featuring Champagnes, sparkling wines, Chardonnays, full-bodied reds, and much more. Beer enthusiasts will delight in locally-brewed Vermont beers, adding another layer of local flavor and cultural immersion.


Historic Charm


Rabbit Hill Inn’s rich history traces back to the late 1700s, when Lower Waterford served as a vital passage for travelers journeying from Montreal to bustling ports in Maine and Massachusetts. It was against this backdrop of burgeoning commerce that Samuel Hodby, the original landowner, recognized an opportunity to provide respite for weary travelers. In 1795, Hodby established the Hodby Tavern & General Store, laying the foundation for what would eventually become Rabbit Hill Inn.

Over the years, ownership changed hands many times, and the inn underwent several transformations. In 1825, Jonathan Cummings erected the Main House as his residence and workshop, expanding the inn’s offerings to accommodate the growing influx of travelers. Subsequent owners, such as Fred Cross & O.G. Hale, further enhanced the inn’s facilities, adding wings and parlors that still stand today.

Throughout the following decades, Rabbit Hill Inn welcomed a diverse roster of passionate new proprietors, each leaving their indelible mark within the storied walls of its winsome structures. Yet, it wasn’t until Eric and Beryl Charlton took the reins in 1980 that Rabbit Hill Inn truly began to blossom into the luxurious haven it is today. Under their stewardship, the inn underwent significant renovations, ushering in a new era. In 1997, Brian and Leslie Mulcahy, former guests-turned-proprietors, breathed new life into Rabbit Hill Inn, elevating it to unparalleled heights of excellence. Their unwavering dedication to preserving the inn’s historical integrity while infusing it with modern comforts has ensured that Rabbit Hill Inn remains a celebrated retreat for generations to come.


Recently, Rabbit Hill Inn embarked on a new chapter under the careful stewardship of Mark Lahood, Barry Caplan, and Benjamin Hur, hospitality luminaries with a wealth of industry experience. Their commitment to upholding the inn’s rich traditions while embracing innovation promises to carry Rabbit Hill Inn into the future, ensuring continual betterment of the guest experience.


The Celebration of a Lifetime


One of the most heartwarming aspects of Rabbit Hill Inn is the lasting impact it has on the lives of its guests, which is perfectly demonstrated through the story of a visiting couple shared by Lahood. “We had a couple that came in last week,” recounts Lahood. “They have been coming here for over 40 years, and Rabbit Hill Inn served as the site of countless unforgettable vacations for them.” As their mobility began to decline, the couple decided to make one more celebratory trip to Rabbit Hill—a testament to the enduring allure of the inn and the special role it has played in their lifelong romance. Moved by their dedication and loyalty, the staff at Rabbit Hill Inn went above and beyond to ensure that the couple’s visit was nothing short of extraordinary. “We bought them a wonderful complimentary dinner and gave them a great bottle of wine,” shares Lahood. The couple’s departure was marked by hugs and sentimental gratitude expressed to the staff, emphasizing that at Rabbit Hill, every guest plays a prominent role in their evolving story as a cherished Vermont hospitality institution. 


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