The historic and incredibly scenic White Mountains are home to New Hampshire's best ski areas, and plenty of places to stay – it's easy to reach and afford – for a weekend or a week. Our favourite ski town in the Mount Washington Valley is Jackson, so close to North Conway and four ski areas, but worlds away from the moment you drive over the covered bridge, the 1876 "Honeymoon Bridge." The most beautiful setting is the Eagle Mountain House which sits high on the hill above the charming Jackson village. As you ascend up beautiful Carter Notch past gorgeous cascading Wildcat River, you crest the hill to stunning views of Black Mountain and the grand white hotel as the crown.
This 1893 hotel harkens back to the golden days when two dozen such grand hotels graced the Granite state. Of the handful remaining in NH's ski country, Hotel Mount Washington, Mountain View Grand, The Balsams, and The Wentworth, The Eagle Mountain House may well be the most affordable. It's equally storied, but a bit more casual than some of its same vintage sisters. The beautiful woodwork and antiquated brass elevator to the wooden telephone booth in the lobby (both still operational) will bring you back in time. Originally built in 1879, the Eagle Mountain House was rebuilt in 1916 after a devastating fire the year prior. This grand hotel, with its graceful veranda and 96 guest rooms, is on the National Register of Historic Places, awarded as a Historic Hotel of America as well. It should also be on skiers list who appreciate historic hotels, with 4 ski areas nearby and Nordic trails on premise.
The Eagle Mountain House is just three minutes to the classic ski trails of Black Mountain, and a short drive to major ski areas Atittash, Wildcat, and Cranmore. Returning to the Eagle Mountain House after a day skiing, there's a warm fire in lobby and fresh baked cookies, coffee and cocoa. Swoop in for a bar stool at the Eagle Landing if you prefer a toddy by the Tavern's fireplace. If you haven't had enough outdoor invigoration, the Hotel's snowy setting, a golf course in summer, is perfectly pitched for sledding, or you can glide the groomed circuit of Nordic ski trails. The views from every suite and everywhere you stroll are superb, and serene in this quieter Crawford Notch.
Evenings at the Eagle Mountain House, have a cocktail at the cosy bar before entering Highfields dining room – where Chef Vanessa creates delicious locally sourced entrees, in addition to bountiful fresh salads, and daily specials like big juicy burgers and prime rib for more casual fare.
Riding the vintage 1916 elevator up to our 4th floor room was an experience. The authentic floors in the century old hotel rooms are creaky, the doors squeaky, décor is modest and far from modern – but the mountain views and the ancient corded phone in our room made us feel we'd travelled to a very special place, if only the walls could tell their tales. Yes, there's free WiFi, but Eagle Mountain House is really a place to reconnect with your family and friends, maybe make some new ones in the Game Room or Library with its piano. Mornings, the sun beams into your guest room if you didn't pull the shades, so enjoy a home cooked breakfast before bracing the White Mountain wonderland outside.
Après ski in Jackson, The Shovel Handle at Black Mountain, Wildcat Tavern and Shannon Door all rock with lively music and affable locals. Other Jackson hotels open in winter and welcoming skiers include the Wentworth Inn, The Christmas Farm Inn, Nordic Inn and Condos, Nestlenook, and the Snowflake Inn.