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Painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman
Sugar Hill Inn, a memorable New Hampshire Inn for a romantic getaway
-Article by: Norm Goldman
-Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman

Unhurried, quiet and gentle are the most appropriate adjectives to describe the quaint town of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.

This scenic hamlet on the Western edge of the White Mountains was originally part of the town of Lisbon, and only in 1962 was it incorporated.

Perched along a ridge overlooking Franconia, you can observe the Canon and Lafayette mountains to the east, and within bird's eye view you also notice the Presidential ranges of the White Mountains.

Today, Sugar Hill consists of not much more than a town hall, post office, and general store, lodging facilities, private homes and a population well under one thousand. In retrospect, very little has changed over the past century.

Can you fathom how difficult life must have been when the first settlers dared to venture here by ox cart, and began building their farm homes within this beautiful serene setting? No railroads or other agencies existed at the time.

One such brave family was the Oakes, who arrived in 1789, and built a farm home, where the present day SUGAR HILL INN now sits.

Driving up to the inn you can't help noticing the beautiful groves of sugar maples adorning the fields and roadsides. You now can well understand why the town is called Sugar Hill.
Painting by Lily Azerad-Goldman

Situated within an atmosphere of rustic charm and vibrant foliage, the Sugar Hill Inn blends the natural surroundings of forest, mountain and sky. Where peace and quiet are primordial; folks can relax and escape the asphalt, the noisy traffic and flashing lights, and enjoy the rich diversity of wildlife, flora and fauna.

The inn's charming owners, Judy and Orlo Coots, have owned the inn since 2002, and they love what they are doing. They exude the necessary attributes to create a magical romantic escape beckoning their guests to return again and again.

Judy's background in massage therapy and esthetics combined with Orlo's culinary expertise make them a perfect team to show how a country inn is far different from a hotel or motel.

They have been in the customer service business for so many years that they know how to pamper their guests. As a member of the Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North America, Sugar Hill Inn adheres to the highest standards of excellence in accordance with the rules and regulations of the association.

What is quite "cool" is that many of the inn's guest rooms bear historic names reflecting Sugar Hill's early pioneers.

The Moses Aldrich room is in memory of the earliest Sugar Hill family, who arrived in 1780.

The Peckett suite commemorates the famous Sugar Hill inn by that name, where in 1928 the second U.S ski school in the USA was founded and was the first resort school. It was likewise the gathering place for many socialites, literary elites, actors and actresses and the well to do.

Sugar Hill Inn is also quite notable for some of its famous guests. In the early 1920s the property's third owners, the Richardson family, were friends of actress Bette Davis. Apparently, they had met her while working at Peckett's-on-Sugar Hill.

It is purported that Davis stayed with the Richardsons while her own house was being built, and even afterwards, when it became too crowded with her own visitors.

To capture this bygone era, one of the rooms is named after her. The Bette Davis room, with its picture windows, contains books mentioning her love of the area, her house, Buttercup, and her marriage to Arthur Farnsworth and honeymoon that took place in the area.

I asked the Coots how much of the original farmhouse still exists? To the best of their knowledge, most of the original structure remains in place. The hand hewn beams, fireplace in the front living room and the wide floorboards in the guest room above the living room are all original.

In the 1920's a new wing was added on by the Richardsons; a lower living room and dining room were added, when the farmhouse was converted to a lodging establishment.

In the 1970's another addition was put on the west end of the house-enlarging one room, adding another and creating more living space for its owners.

In 2000, the "new wing" was reconfigured to change 5 rooms to 3 with more luxurious amenities added. The owner's living quarters were converted to an additional luxury room, and added to the west end was another luxury room.

There are eight guest rooms in the main house, six in the country cottages and two master suites.
All have private baths and fabulous views of the White Mountain Presidential Range. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, porches, and whirlpool/two person soaking tubs. There is also a separate spa room-offering massages and facials.


Not to be missed is the inn's superb cuisine served candlelit, and during the winter months, fireside. It truly is a relaxed special experience with a grand view of the surrounding mountains.

Orlo prepares each meal to order, exhibiting a great deal of imagination.

We had the pleasure of savoring the butternut squash soup and field greens with julienne vegetables and shallot vinaigrette. This was followed with the seared tuna steak with maple balsamic glaze and braised red cabbage. Topping all of this was the luscious desert.

Lily was so impressed with the braised red cabbage that she had to ask for the recipe.

In February, the inn runs a weekend special, where dinner, wine, extra chocolate truffles and roses are included.


For loving duos there are ample opportunities to explore and delight in nearby attractions that are only minutes away.

You can marvel at Franconia Notch, recognized as a Registered Natural Landmark, and is only ten minutes away from the inn's front door. Just driving towards the Notch is staggering! The view of the towering peaks of the Franconia and Kinsman Ranges is overpowering.

Unfortunately, one of the most famous New Hampshire attractions, the Old Man of the Mountain, recently collapsed. I guess old age caught up with him.

Whatever the season, the inn is not far away from a wealth of activities. Hiking swimming, biking, riding the Aerial Tramway, visiting the Flume, skiing, golfing, attending a summer theatre production, canoeing, and horseback riding are only some of the possibilities.

If you love poetry, there is the Robert Frost Place. The poet lived here for five years from 1915-1920, farming, writing poetry and living the good quiet life.

Route 117, PO Box 954, Franconia, NH
Tel: 1-800-548-4748