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Back to School: Inside New Hampshire's Hanover Inn

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2 East Wheelock St. [map], Hanover, NH, United States, 03755
August 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM | by | ()

If ever there was a town that the much-overused words "quaint" and "charming" seem made for, it's Hanover, New Hampshire.

Located in the state's Upper Valley, along the Appalachian Trail, and separated from Vermont by the Connecticut River, Hanover is most famously home to Dartmouth College, an elite Ivy League university -- and all of the fortunes that brings.

That being said, quaint and charming (not to mention the phrase "elite Ivy League ...") can rub some of us the wrong way, and so we approached the Hanover Inn, a storied hotel that occupies a building dating from 1780 and overlooks Dartmouth Green (scene of Conan O'Brien's epic 2011 commencement speech) with some trepidation.

The feeling was not initially assuaged by our first glimpse of the hotel lobby, which felt a little stuffy with its fireplace, leather armchairs, black and white photographs of alumni, rocking chairs on the patio, and a lot of deep green (Dartmouth College colors). Closer inspection, however, revealed modernist touches such contemporary works of art and a centerpiece table created from big slab of granite; an homage to New Hampshire's "granite state" moniker.

Sure, the preppy vibe runs strong in the guestrooms, too, with plaid cushions and cable-knit throws that bring old college cardigans to mind, but furnishings (Simon Pearce-style lamps and Tivoli clocks) and amenities (large flat-screen televisions, free WiFi, and walk-in showers) successfully toe the line between classic and modern.

The Hanover Inn recently underwent a $41 million, six-month-long renovation that added 14 new guest rooms and suites (bringing the total to 108) and increased the property's size from 3,000 square-feet to close to 11,000. Two of our favorite things about the new look are that the hotel is now connected to the Hood Museum, a contemporary art center where interning Dartmouth students help to curate the frequently changing exhibits, and is home to a farm-to-table restaurant named PINE, created by celebrity Boston chef, (and James Beard award winner) Michael Schlow and run by executive chef Justin Dain.

We were impressed with PINE's New American/Mediterranean-style menu (must try items: the house made gnocchi and slow roasted salmon), and smitten with their retro cocktail list, the creation of a smart in-house mixologist.

We had a peek at the newly outfitted fitness center, but having not actually broken a sweat in there, can only confirm that the small selection of treadmills, ellipticals , bikes, and weights look up to scratch.

Rates at the Hanover Inn start at $199 for a classic room to $369 for a suite.

Karen was a guest of Hanover Inn but all opinions are her own.

[Photos: Karen Gardiner Dion]

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