by LINDA LABAN
9 out of 10
Telegraph expert rating
“This gracious Relais & Chateaux inn is an 18th-century mansion turned country-style retreat set among grand old trees and pretty shrubbery. What makes it even better is co-host and chef Thomas Henkelmann’s classic French restaurant.”
9 / 10
The hotel is set on Connecticut’s coast in the residential Belle Haven neighbourhood, with the refined dining and shopping of Greenwich about a mile away. Tour the nearby Bruce Museum of art and natural history or the 18th-century Bush-Holley House, a former artists’ colony that is now a National Historic Landmark housing American impressionist art. Greenwich Metro North station is just under a mile away.
Style & character
9 / 10
Homestead Inn’s immediate neighbours are mighty dogwoods and weeping birch – the delights of Mother Nature. Guests are greeted by the glorious sight of Hippo Ballerina, Bjorn Skaarup’s giant bronze and copper statue that formerly graced Manhattan’s Lincoln Center [sic]. Art is a strong element to this almost three-acre 18th-century estate, where splendid white Italianate mansion retains the feeling of a rich past.
Service & facilities
8 / 10
Service is both personable and so highly practised that it seems like the staff are mind readers. This is a place of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’, with a garden patio – which has seating around a fountain – and a wisteria-draped wrap-around porch providing a place to pause, and perhaps fall into conversation, or just be still. There is no on-site fitness centre but guests have free entrance to the Equinox gym (half a mile away).
8 / 10
Rooms are split between the main house and the Carriage House; the latter has wonderful shaded seating areas outside each room. Terracotta tiled flooring, dark turnings, heavy woods and potted palms recall Victorian exotica inside each room. The very comfortable and enormous wood-framed beds are decked out in richly coloured rust, green, and mustard op-art chenille covers and cushions. Boldly coloured gilt-framed impressionist-style paintings adorn the mustard walls. Stout wooden wardrobes, made to look more enormous by the low ceilings, conceals the television and books. Each room has a table and two upholstered chairs with carved dolphin arm rests – but the seats outside on the porch are irresistible in warm weather.
Large bathrooms have tub-showers, double basins and Bulgari toiletries.
Food & drink
9 / 10
The restaurant bears Thomas Henkelmann’s name and pedigree: he trained in his native Europe at a Michelin-starred restaurant before emerging on the Connecticut coast’s fine-dining scene. The low-ceilinged dining room has exposed posts and beams, as well as the original brick fireplace. It opens onto a glass porch, with views over the lovely grounds. The food avoids ostentatiousness; you will instead find balanced, honest flavours and classic French discipline. Dishes could include organic tomato soup poured over delicate semolina dumplings with hint of onion and finely diced basil, or crisped Atlantic sea bass with potato gnocchi, wilted spinach and a champagne beurre blanc.
Breakfast is another treat; try the eggs Benedict, with a Hollandaise sauce as creamy as it is deliciously tangy.
Value for money
8 / 10
Double rooms from $280 (£211) in low season; and from $350 (£264) in high. Breakfast from $16 (£17). Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
The hotel has one ADA-compliant room.