Whether you crave waking to freshly fallen snow, or snoozing before a roaring fire, Marie Barbieri finds six luxury stays that will have you wishing winter would never end.
WINVIAN FARM, LITCHFIELD HILLS, CONNECTICUT
If there could possibly be a more fanciful idyll than Middle Earth, historic Winvian Farm is it. Two hours drive north of New York, this Relais & Chateaux property is a working farm, the organic produce of which lands in its restaurant, and comes paired with a choice of the wine cellar’s 500 plus labels.
The farm’s 18 cottages each has a unique eccentric design. Set around an 18th-century manor, the luxurious stays were dreamt up by 15 visionary architects. The Helicopter cottage has a fully restored 1968 helicopter inside, where you can have cocktails in the cockpit, while the Library cottage has ladders which lead to a book-lined wraparound mezzanine filled with literary works. One of the most enchanting has to be Charter Oak cottage, which has a massive white oak tree in the bedroom. The resort cottage also has two fireplaces and an oval jacuzzi.
OLD SCHOOLHOUSE, EILEAN SHONA, SCOTLAND
Car-free and crowd-free, Eilean Shona is an isolated tidal island on Scotland’s Loch Moidart. A wilderness of austere botanical beauty, it was historically the home of crofters before Captain Swinburne planted it with rare pines. Living in the main homestead, he established an arboretum of significant silvicultural value. But perhaps the most inventive type to have sojourned here during the 1920s was Peter Pan creator J M Barrie, believed to have penned his screenplay here. Now you too can make this winter hideaway your own Neverland.
Reached by boat or helicopter from the mainland, Eilean Shona’s eight stone cottages include the recently converted Old Schoolhouse. This two-bedroom sanctuary features wood-burning stoves and gas lamps and, if you successfully emerge from the Victorian-style roll-top bathtub, you can comb the heather-carpeted hillocks where wild red deer and bushy-tailed pine martens roam. Bird-spotters excite at the willow warblers, chaffinches and red-breasted mergansers, as well as painted lady and peacock butterflies. Eilean Shona is a paradise for dreamers and hermits alike.
DEVIL’S THUMB RANCH, TABERNASH, COLORADO
Sitting pretty in a completely snowy wonderland in the northern hemisphere winter, two hours’ drive from Denver, Devil’s Thumb Ranch was originally a staging post. It is also where cross country skiing was developed. Framed by the Continental Divide, the ranch’s rustic lodges come dressed in salvaged beetle-kill pine and spruce, and Native American and western artworks fashioned from distressed wood. The lofted king suite at High Lonesome Lodge features a vaulted ceiling, hand-forged iron candelabras, gas fireplace and wildlife-themed bedside lamps.
A visit to a ranch wouldn’t be the same without immersing yourself in the outdoors, so try your hand at horse-riding, cattle-driving, sledding or snowshoeing. When you’re ready to head back inside you can sit in the wine grotto or stretch in the yoga studio before indulging in massages at Ranch Creek Spa.
LOGGERS LODGE, HARADS, SWEDISH LAPLAND
Tucked deep within Swedish Lapland’s boreal forest, down a private snow-packed track, you’ll find the all-inclusive Loggers Lodge. This luxury cocoon was first visited by hardened loggers who floated logs along the nearby Bodträskån stream before bunking down here. Fast-forward to today and the raised four-sided, glass-cube log fire at the foot of your bed is the seductive centrepiece of Loggers Lodge.
Your only visitor is your private chef serving dinner to your Lappish hideout. When you do venture out, Magnetic North Travel will take you sledding with Alaskan huskies, ice-fishing, and touring the Arctic Circle shepherding reindeer with the local Sami people. Later, when the flames of your fire fizzle out, the aurora borealis will dance around the stars.
THE KIRCHE, KRONDORF, BAROSSA VALLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The former Lutheran church, Zum Kripplein Christi, was the centre of village life in Krondorf starting in 1864, when congregations of Lutheran migrants found refuge at its pews. Today, the building has been reincarnated as The Kirche (German for church) in this much-celebrated wine region.
Renovated sensitively by the owners of Charles Melton Wines, it features a pitched Baltic pine ceiling above a spectacular living area, a wood fire, Rod Schubert artworks, Gothic tracery windows and an antique church organ. Two regal bedrooms come furnished with plush cotton and silk curtains, oversized armchairs, brass dress racks and oak trunks. Just in case you needed reminding where you are, the upstairs loft bedroom overlooks Charles Melton’s shiraz cabernet vines and it’s from here you’ll most certainly be praying for a longer stay.
THE GRANARY, CRESSY, TASMANIA
In the heart of Tasmania’s bucolic meadows, a new boutique stay beckons. Well, The Granary’s lavish interior design is recent, but the building itself harks back to Tasmania’s penal colony era.
Convicts built The Granary for British veteran James Brumby, after whom it’s claimed Australia’s wild horses are named. It’s said when he left New South Wales, he was unable to muster all his horses, so when people asked whose horses were roaming free, they were told ‘they’re Brumby’s’. The recently opened heritage stay can accommodate up to six people who have the entire building and grounds to themselves. Humble on the outside, The Granary is mighty handsome on the inside. Owner Fiona Moses has clothed the master bedroom in country-style linens; upstairs a rustic reading room leads to
a flamboyant bathroom fit for royalty with a fusion of carved timber columns and cabinets.
But the jewel in The Granary’s enchanting crown is its open-plan living area beneath a frame of Tasmanian oak beams where there are artworks bequeathed by the owner’s grandmother. Wandering the grounds you’ll find Victorian-style lamp posts sporting traditional sand cast bases and hand-moulded copper tops, birdbaths and fountains, a parterre lavender garden, fragrant herb patches, a hazelnut grove and orchards.
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