Ipswich, MA Inn

A more gracious era at the Inn at Castle Hill

Located on the former country estate of plumbing magnate Richard Crane, The Inn at Castle Hill truly delivers on its promise to transport you to an earlier, more gracious era. In this bucolic town 30 miles north of Boston, the ten-room, 19th-century shingled cottage offers pared down, sophisticated style and ultimate seclusion on 2,100 acres. Rooms are decorated with four-poster beds, subdued or white-on-white color schemes, polished pine floors, overstuffed couches near roaring fireplaces. (The best bedroom choices are Cornelius, for its sweeping views, and Miné, for its fireplace). Outside, a circular porch is dotted with rocking chairs looking out on the grounds where garden parties were held in the early part of the last century. The lawn slopes down to the four-and-a-half-mile-long beach, which is open to the public but large enough to accommodate solitary stretches (the entrance fee is waived for guests of the inn).

Innkeeper George H. Shattuck III, formerly of the Hudson Valley's now-closed Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, has plans. A 59-room mansion modeled on a 17th-century English estate will be available on occasion for private tours to the inn's guests. And the mansion's accompanying stone cottages may become self-contained suites of the inn. The meal service, which is breakfast only, will expand a bit to light suppers (now, guests are directed to area restaurants). One aspect that won't change, though: the surrounding marshland nature preserve, which is protected by the estate's owners, The Trustees of Reservations. A benefit of spending the weekend here is that the inn's earnings are reinvested in this private land trust's conservation work. Closed January. $175­$375. 280 Argilla Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938; 978-412-2555; www.theinnatcastlehill.com.