• Hawthorne Inn (Concord, MA; tel. 978/369-5610): Everything here -- the 1870 building, the garden setting a stone's throw from the historic attractions, the antiques, the eclectic decorations, the accommodating innkeepers -- is top of the line.
  • Coonamessett Inn (Falmouth, MA; tel. 508/548-2300): Picture windows overlooking a pond and 7 verdant acres make this former (from 1796) homestead a very special place to stay. Separate sitting rooms and knotty pine walls add to its comfort and charm. Plus, Sunday brunch is a real treat.
  • Captain's House Inn (Chatham, Cape Cod, MA; tel. 800/315-0728): An elegant country inn dripping with good taste, this is among the best small inns in the region. Most rooms have fireplaces, elegant paneling, and antiques; they're sumptuous yet cozy. Your British hostess serves a stupendous high tea. This could be the ultimate spot to enjoy Chatham's Christmas Stroll festivities.
  • Charlotte Inn (Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, MA; tel. 508/627-4751): Edgartown tends to be the most formal enclave on Martha's Vineyard, and this compound of exquisite buildings is by far the fanciest address in town. The rooms are distinctively decorated: One boasts a baby grand, another its own thematic dressing room. The restaurant, Catch at the Terrace, is also top-notch.
  • The Porches (North Adams, MA; tel. 413/664-0400): It may be stretching the definition of the "country inn" category, but this is too much fun to ignore. It was put together with six 19th-century workmen's houses lined up opposite the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a new veranda running across their length. The wit of the designers is evident in the use of paint-by-the-numbers pictures and sublimely kitschy accessories, but laptop rentals, DVD players, and Internet access ensure no 21st-century deprivation.
  • Mayflower Inn & Spa (Washington, CT; tel. 860/868-9466): Not a tough call at all for this part of the region: Immaculate in taste and execution, the Mayflower is as close to perfection as any such enterprise is likely to be (although points off for whiffs of excess pretension). A genuine Joshua Reynolds hangs in the hall.
  • Griswold Inn (Essex, CT; tel. 860/767-1776): "The Griz" has been accommodating sailors and travelers as long as any inn in the country, give or take a decade. In all that time, it has been a part of life and commerce in the lower Connecticut River Valley, always ready with a mug of suds, a haunch of beef, and a roaring fire. The walls are layered with nautical paintings and memorabilia, and they've even gotten up the nerve to add a wine bar to the mix.
  • The Equinox Resort (Manchester Village, VT; tel. 800/362-4747): This is southern Vermont's grand resort, with nearly 200 rooms in a white-clapboard compound that seems to go on forever. The rooms are pleasant enough, but the real draws are the grounds and the resort's varied activities -- it's set on 2,300 acres with pools, tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and even its own mountainside. Tried everything on vacation? How about falconry classes or backcountry driving at the Range Rover school?
  • Windham Hill Inn (West Townshend, VT; tel. 800/944-4080): Welcome amenities such as air-conditioning in the rooms and a conference room in the barn have been added, while preserving the charm of this 1823 farmstead. It's at the end of a remote dirt road in a high upland valley, and guests are welcome to explore 160 private acres on a network of walking trails.
  • Twin Farms (Barnard, VT; tel. 800/894-6327): Just north of Woodstock may be the most elegant inn in New England. Its rates are a tad breathtaking, but guests are certainly pampered here. Novelist Sinclair Lewis once lived on this 300-acre farm, and today it's an aesthetic retreat that offers serenity and exceptional food.
  • The Pitcher Inn (Warren, VT; tel. 802/496-6350): Even though this place was built in 1997, it's possessed of the graciousness of a longtime, well-worn inn. It combines traditional New England form and scale with modern and luxe touches, plus a good dollop of whimsy.
  • Basin Harbor Club (Vergennes, VT; tel. 800/622-4000): Established in 1886, this waterside gem is a classic family resort, with golf, tennis, boating on Lake Champlain, jackets-required dining, stunning views, and evening lectures on the arts. Bring books and board games, and relearn what summer's all about.
  • White Barn Inn (Kennebunkport, ME; tel. 207/967-2321): Many of the White Barn's staff hail from Europe, and guests are treated with a Continental graciousness that's hard to match. Rooms, suites, and cottages here are all a delight, and the meals (served in the barn) are among the best in Maine.
  • Claremont (Southwest Harbor, ME; tel. 800/244-5036): The 1884 Claremont is a Maine classic. This waterside lodge has everything a Victorian resort should, including sparely decorated rooms, creaky floorboards in the halls, great views of water and mountains, and a perfect croquet pitch.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.