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Mayflower Inn, Washington, Connecticut

A European-Style Country House

When New Yorkers Adrianna and Robert Mnuchin retired, he from investment banking and she from retailing, they wanted to try a joint venture. With their passion for landscaping and collecting and their fondness for English manors and French auberges, they decided to open a European-style country house near their weekend home in Connecticut. The Mnuchins bought the shuttered Washington Inn and almost completely rebuilt it. The exterior turn-of-the-century gray and white American shingle-style looks much as it did in 1920 when the inn first opened. But inside, you could be in the Cotswolds or in Burgundy.

Mayflower Inn

To create the Mayflower style the Mnunchins scoured the shops and galleries of France, England and the States gathering treasures as well as inspiration. Together with Mariette Himes Gomez, an interior designer, they created 25 different bedrooms and suites, a restaurant and a series of public rooms –lobby, parlors, game room and library. All are dramatic and elegant. Like Europe's great country houses, which were originally family estates, Mayflower Inn bears the imprimatur of the owners. The conspicuous personal touches of the Mnuchins as more than just innkeepers are evident. The hallways and the landings of the grand mahogany staircase are filled with oil paintings, framed letters and autographs, trestle tables and chests, English hall chairs and settees, candlesticks, mirrors and old leather luggage.

And in the bedrooms and suites are floral arrangements, Oriental carpets, canopied antique four-poster beds, damask bedspreads, quirky clocks, old books and magazines, toile lamps, Frette linens and Limoges china, cashmere throws on the sofas, foot stools at the bottom of the beds, wicker furniture on the porches and tapestries that are used as bathroom rugs.

The gardens also look as though they have been tended for generations. They were "collected" with as much care as the furnishings. A local gardener traveled widely to purchase specimen trees. Rising from the entrance and spilling over a terraced hill, which leads to the tennis courts and a swimming pool, are some two dozen gardens. Nine acres in all are filled with flowers.

The restaurant is no less inspired than the rest of the inn. We particularly liked the Sunday night buffet with grilled swordfish and rabbit, great salads, cheeses, house-baked breads, pastas, vegetables and desserts. A separate stone structure called The Teahouse and styled like an Adirondack lodge serves as a corporate retreat. CEOs in banking, publishing and fashion who need to do strategic planning away from the office like the location, about two hours from Manhattan. The Mayflower Inn has a full-service spa including many daily classes.

Mayflower Inn, Route 47, Washington, CT 06793. Tel. 860-868-9466 . Rates start at $250. Corporate rates (group bookings) are $225 to $325. Suites start at $350. www.mayflowerinn.com


Golf, horseback riding, fishing, canoeing, skiing, antique shops, museums and small theaters.

Winter 1994-95