Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bucks County Christmas Romance 2013

New Hope is romantic any time of year, but at the holidays, it’s amazing. Add some Christmas lights, champagne, amazing food, snow, and the perfect person to share it with and you've got yourself a magical stay!


We set out on our Bucks County Tour 2013 amid gentle flurries and arrived at The Inn at Bowman’s Hill while it was still softly snowing. Because so many people cancelled due to inclement weather, Innkeeper Michael Amery graciously upgraded us from our deluxe Hidden Pines room to the best room on the estate, the Regal Tower Suite. The Inn at Bowman’s Hill is a beautiful colonial with a carriage house and a large garage, also with guest rooms. The Regal Tower Suite is in the carriage house and attached to the main house with a private entrance. 


The main house had so many charming details that you must see for yourself. The enchanting atrium nook for breakfast with the large fireplace and wood-hewn touches overlooking the outdoor pool and lounge area (open in summer), the quiet greenhouse area with live plants and a little fountain all make for a relaxing common area. The Inn at Bowman’s Hill claims it is the most romantic B&B in Bucks County and I cannot help but agree. I didn’t want to leave!



Then Mike took us to our room ... or should I say rooms. This, no doubt, has been the best room I have ever been in. My beau Stephen and I immediately decided we had to move in! Up a little flight of stairs, we came upon the sitting room with a cathedral ceiling and a Christmas tree, a small but powerful fireplace stove, and chairs and couches.





 Coffee, cheese, and other snacks were set out for us, and the view of the falling snow through the many windows was delightful. The décor was classical, soothing, and comfortable—soft earth tones and rich leather predominated.



The grounds at the Inn are equally amazing. In the warmer months, guests can harvest their own eggs from the free-range chickens for breakfast, visit the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, kayak the Delaware River and tour historic sites such as Washington’s Crossing Historic Park.











This little retreat is also perfect for small families or dual couples as it boasts a second bedroom upstairs. In the master bedroom, a King-size featherbed with down blankets, pillows and 400 thread count bed linens awaited us. Our bathroom offered a heated towel rack, which was great for our microfiber robes, and heated tile floors; this was a very nice touch as it was snowing and it made the room quite cozy. The two-person Jacuzzi tub with a TV was romantic and invigorating. The two person steam shower came complete with three separate shower heads—one that cascaded from the middle of the shower stall ceiling. There were some very choice bathroom amenities as well, and all the little touches made the room exquisite.


After we settled in, we enjoyed some coffee and then set out to Crossing Vineyard and Winery. Thanks to owner Tom Carroll, Sr, and his wife Chris, Stephen and I had a fantastic tasting and tour of the 200-year-old-estate and marveled at the changes of the property. 

The many award-winning wines were delicious, and the tasting room was fully decorated for the holidays and full of happy patrons. Rich in history, this beautiful winery and vineyard is less than a mile from where George Washington crossed the Delaware in 1776. 

After happily buying Christmas presents for our families, we bade farewell to Tom and Chris and headed back out into the swirling snow.

The best part about visiting Bucks County at Christmastime is the cheery lights and festive atmosphere, which we saw a lot of on our drive back to the B&B. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at Bowman’s Tavern, but didn’t have time to eat our lunch as I had scheduled in-room massages as a treat to Stephen. Even with the crazy snow, our masseuses Amanda and Jeanette arrived and we had totally relaxing massages.



After the ladies departed, we got ready for dinner at Marsha Brown, a famous Creole steakhouse, situated in the heart of New Hope, housed in a beautiful old church. We got dressed in our finery and went outside, only to find that our cute winter wonderland was now a formidable winter storm! We tried to get out to the road, but it hadn’t yet been plowed, so we made the executive decision to stay in. 

Huge kudos go to the Marsha Brown staff for understanding our predicament and changing our reservations for dinner to Sunday, and to Anastacio, the resident chef and caretaker at Bowman’ Hill. They were all so accommodating! Michael offered to drive us into town, but as it was starting to sleet, I was worried. 

Instead, Anastacio ushered us into the kitchen and made us delicious warm turkey and cheese sandwiches, with fresh salad and mango slices, and Michael sent up a bottle of champagne.






After such a delicious dinner, the champagne, the warm glow of the fire defying the bitter cold outside, Stephen and I peacefully slipped into sleep in our sumptuous bed, dreaming of holiday happiness—and in Stephen’s case, tomorrow morning’s gourmet breakfast.


On Sunday, the sun was out and the ice was melting, and we headed downstairs for the ‘breakfast’ part of our Bed and Breakfast stay. Anastacio, Michael, and Louise welcomed us as we ordered the full English breakfast. We began with coffee, hot chocolate, fresh juice, homemade granola and yogurt. We then had Stephen’s favorite- warm strawberry muffins, and continued with eggs, crisp bacon, maple-flavored sausage, home fried potatoes, grilled tomatoes, beans, and more.



















Sated for the moment, Stephen and I once again ventured out into the cold. This time, we made for the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad to ride the North Pole Express. This venerable steam-engine powered train ferried the two of us, along with dozens of excited children and their parents, in grand style as we were serenaded by a banjo playing caroler, drank hot chocolate, and took pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus.


















After some shopping in Love Saves the Day and other stores, it was soon time for the highlight of the day—our dinner at Marsha Brown

Instantly, we were warmly welcomed and ushered to the bar for a delicious aperitif before dinner. After a short time, we were led upstairs to the impressive main dining room. A gigantic mural dominates one wall, depicting the battle of St. George. It’s easily one of the most romantic places I have ever been in. 


We sat, and Adrian, our server immediately attended to us. We ordered Lobster Bisque, Seafood and Sausage Gumbo, Crawfish Etoufee, and one of Marsha’s signature dishes, Eggplant Ophelia. This was a circular casserole of eggplant, shrimp, and other seafood, lightly spiced and baked to perfection on a bed of seasoned sauce. The etoufee was rich and buttery, perfectly marrying the delicate flavor of crawfish with the subtle peppery tang of Creole spice.  


After such a glorious weekend, we did not want to leave, but we knew we’d be back very soon. For any couple or family looking for a quiet, charming oasis amid the bustle of New Hope, one need look no further than the extraordinary Inn at Bowman’s Hill. It was a stay that I will not soon forget.


Very special thanks to Michael Amery, and his wonderful staff, Louise and Anastacio at the Inn at Bowman’s Hill for everything!

A big thank you to the generous Carroll family at Crossings Vineyard & Winery.
Special thanks to Wendy Kelly and her amazing staff at Marsha Brown.
Special thanks to ever-awesome Michelle Greco at the Bucks County Visitors Bureau.

Very special thanks to my one and only Stephen for sharing this wonderful weekend with me and for your insights on the article. 


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