First but far from least, a post-lockdown Inn Credible New England trip to the Martin Hill Inn in Portsmouth, NH ended a week ago without contracting any trace of COVID-19. This largely is due to the Silkwood-shower level cleaning by Nantucket transplants/inn keepers Russ and Meg.
Regular readers will not be surprised that your-not-so-humble reviewer ran with Russ characterizing this stay, which was the first for the otherwise empty inn, as serving as a guinea pig. This extended beyond inviting Russ to call me Squeaky and my thanking him in advance for the clean wood shavings. I also promised to do my best to refrain from chewing the baseboards.
Aside from the broad appeal of this historic building and the exceptional hospitality of the hosts, Martin Hill offers the benefit of being the only genuine B and B in Portsmouth. The setting perfectly reflects the spirit of this historic harbor community. This is not to mention the large cookie-cutter hotels 1/2 mile away in the retail district all requiring valet parking your car in the city garage.
The glee began with parking in the easily located, spacious, and shady parking lot behind the inn. The roughly one-minute walk through the well-designed garden is almost ensured to include seeing the resident bird-seed addicted chipmunk. The pair of wild bunnies are a slightly more rare sight.
The COVID-era check-in involves picking up a welcome packet and room key in the drop box by the inn front door. Guinea pig duty has enhanced the amount of information, such as the WiFi password, that you receive. Russ seemingly responding to texts even before you hit "Send" facilitates asking questions that the packet does not cover.
The Noonday Suite in the guest house next to the inn offers the most relaxing option in this highly tranquil place that already is reducing its limited accommodations to support social distancing,
Noonday offers a private entrance through the exclusive fully enclosed sun porch that looks out on the koi pods; Russ is very accommodating as to allowing guests to feed (and talk to) the fish.
The living room and bedroom also have an entrance into the guest house, which is handy if you are traveling with someone staying in one of the other three options in that building. This unmarried man ventured in the front hall once looking for Mr. Goodbar to replenish the generous snacks in the Noonday living room.
The wow factor on entering the Noonday suite begins with seeing the Nancy Reagan red bedroom with comfy king-sized bed; a nice treat is discovering the mini-tower of personalized gifts that the innkeepers provide to "sweeten the stay" of guests during this Covid period.
The living room provides a nice way to read, use my iPad, and watch television without hanging out in the bedroom. The sun porch, where I ate the crave-worthy lemon ricotta pancakes and other breakfasts that were delivered due to Covid, was another nice spot in which to enjoy "just being" at the inn.
Russ and Meg do their visitors the solid of ensuring that every room has at least two comfy places to sit. This is on top of the game-and-book filled parlor that is open to guests and offers snacks under normal circumstances. There is a good chance that your not-so-humble reviewer will offer a discussion on films in that gathering spot one weekend that Portsmouth holds one of its many film festivals.
The experimentation as to staying at the Martin Hill a couple of weeks after New Hampshire gave most businesses the green light to reopen showed the value of having a place to "just be." Downtown Portsmouth, which was a pleasant leisurely 10-minute walk, was a surprising hodgepodge as to the hours that restaurants were open and the dining options. Many eateries only offering takeout or delivery was not bothersome; the few holdouts as to allowing you to eat your takeout onsite despite you needing to come into the restaurant to pick up your order were frustrating.
Most of the many Portsmouth shops were open standard (or close to standard) hours; the wait was a minute-or-two the few times that a store reached capacity.
There also are numerous other quaint towns, as well as beaches, within an easy 30 drive from the inn.
The one word of caution is to avoid the nearby Kittery outlet malls; the vibe there reflects that they are far from their former glory. The better news is that you can do as well or better shopping online.
Ending on a positive note, Russ and Meg stay VERY true to the spirit of their mid-19th century era inn and vastly exceed the exceptional hospitality of their predecessors from that era. You will be very glad that you came.