My last-minute winter trip to Manchester, Vermont, was intended as a city escape to enjoy peace and nature. As I searched for affordable accommodation, I found North Shire Lodge — it had good reviews for a small hotel in the Green Mountains.
I did not, however, expect to be the only guest at the time (my first day there were two other people who left early the following morning). I seem to have a knack for finding accommodations where I’m the only guest, like I did at the resort in Vietnam. In this case, it made the trip a little more relaxing — I wanted to escape from the city and crowds, so being the only guest made things even quieter.
I was welcomed by Kerry upon arrival at North Shire Lodge, and she informed me that I had to sign up for a breakfast time to ensure that the food was hot. Each day her husband Tim cooked breakfast (usually two choices) for guests.
Kerry also gave directions around town and suggested checking out Northshire Bookstore, which was well worth the stop. She mentioned that the lodge had discounted tickets to Hildene, Lincoln Family Home, which was unfortunately closed during my visit due to the warm winter. I bought a ticket my first morning, but the lodge did not charge me (Kerry said they’d add it to my room bill if it was open; otherwise, I could just give the ticket back).
While my stay at North Shire Lodge was what I needed — a quiet, relaxing escape from the city — I did not choose an appropriate time to visit. The lack of snow made the views a little less interesting in winter and most of the town was closed. The overcast skies during my stay didn’t help; but I still enjoyed gazing out at the Green Mountains from my room.
As I was the only one around, the Mountain View Pub hours didn’t apply. Normally, the bar closes at 9 pm, but my first evening I ended up drinking with Tim (who has owned North Shire Lodge with his wife Kerry for over 21 years) until about midnight. The second night, the bar wasn’t supposed to be open, but Tim again hung out for drinks with me, though we ended a little earlier. The bar is well stocked with a lot of local spirits and beer to give guests a boozy Vermont adventure.
While sitting with a drink in the Mountain View Pub, Tim will gladly tell stories about the photos on the wall, most of which are of relatives. He’s spent time researching his family history and collecting stories and photos to decorate the comfortable pub. If I had been there with a small group, it would’ve been a great experience to sit in front of the fire with some boardgames.
The room was equally comfortable and peaceful. There are sliding doors at the back of the rooms for guests to sit outside and gaze at the mountains — this would have been perfect with some coffee on a chilly morning, and it would’ve been great on a clear warm evening with some wine.
Breakfast was excellent in the morning. As it is a small hotel, guests have to sign up for breakfast and indicate a time to ensure that it comes out hot. On my last morning, I forgot to write down the time, so I missed out on the chorizo frittata (yes, I’m still kicking myself for that lapse). I got to enjoy the blueberry pancakes and sausage with REAL Vermont maple syrup on the first morning.
It’s currently a good choice for Covid travel as the rooms are not connected by a hallway — doors directly in front of parking spaces with reception and the pub in the middle. I know I’d feel safer at a small hotel with no need for interaction with other guests. Unfortunately, the pub is unavailable at this time, but they still serve breakfast to go. (They plan to reopen the pub in late May.)
I would like to revisit Manchester and the surrounding area again as the weather scuttled every plan, and should I return, I would certainly stay at North Shire Lodge again. I was told by a local, however, to not visit in autumn unless I want to sit in traffic and have nowhere to park.
It’s better to book directly with North Shire Lodge for best rates, unless you’ve got some perks with other sites.