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12.08 Get Away Without Going Away

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By Matt Shaw

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If you’re looking for a quiet getaway from the hassles of Main St., America, or even if you just want a simple, elegant, perfect dinner for two at a rustic inn, there’s only one web site you need to visit. PurpleRoofs.com is an online directory of GLBT-owned and –friendly hotels, inns and B&Bs organized by state and region with brief descriptions, room rates, and links to the hotels’ web sites. A quick search turned up two wonderful little B&Bs, each of which is less than an hour from Worcester.jenkins inn.jpgIn 1986, when partners Dave Ward and Joe Perrin bought the building that was to become the Jenkins Inn and Restaurant in Barre, it was in shambles. “The floors were painted gray,” Ward recalls, “and most of the house didn’t have heat. When the windows were closed the curtains still fluttered. And that first winter was cold.” Fastidious do-it-yourselfers, Ward and Perrin got to work. A few creative choices in wallpaper, a handful of antiques, and a precocious attention to detail put the final touches on the renovation. The Jenkins opened the next year with four magnificently appointed bedrooms, a comfortable front porch, and a pristinely manicured garden.

248-Konigzimmer.jpgBut where to send the guests for dinner? “There were several restaurants in town when we opened, but most of them closed down, so we started cooking for our guests,” Ward says. And cook he does. The dinner menu runs the gamut from Tuscan eggplant ravioli to grilled Kangaroo loin. Ward and Perrin also grow their own apples, peaches, blueberries, and herbs for cooking. The dessert menu alone is worth the drive.

Delightfully decorated, and with all of the modern baubles to keep you in touch with the real world (if you really want to), the Jenkins Inn and Restaurant is an absolutely superb gem in northwest Worcester County.

If you happen to be near the Connecticut border and in need of a good meal and a comfy bed, the Vienna Inn of Southbridge should be at the top of your list. Upon checking in, Jonathan and Lisa Krach treat their guests to hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary beverage. Breakfast is included in an overnight stay in one of the five luxurious rooms (which run between $195 and $235 per night), each of which has its own ambiance. The Konig Zimmer (King’s Room) is palatial, boasting some of the finest accoutrements this well-traveled journalist has ever encountered. The Freud Zimmer, named after the famous Viennese psychologist, is laden with intimate sexual undertones and tasteful nudes adorning the walls. For the less hedonistic, there is a room with a jaw-dropping view of the nearby Notre Dame Church. Everything about the B&B screams luxury, from the early 19th century antique furniture to the ornate wall hangings right down to the supple 600-thread count linens.

More impressive than the rooms, though, is the food. Jonathan Krach prides himself on owning the only (as far as he knows) Austrian restaurant in MA. The fare, which he describes as mainly “protein-based central European peasant food,” also includes high-end seafood dishes. Jonathan goes out of his way to find the freshest seafood in New England because, as he puts it, “Life’s too short to eat bad fish.”

I had the opportunity to take a quick peek into the Vienna’s labyrinthine wine cellar, which houses about 1,700 bottles. The cellar wraps around to a dark and charming speakeasy-style bar. Beside the bar is a false wall that leads into a small, intimate spa complete with a massage table, sauna, and plush parlor for general relaxation. While this part of the inn is not yet open to the public, it will certainly be the pièce de résistance of any weekend getaway and the envy of many B&Bs statewide.

For other GLBT-friendly locales in your area, or to find information on booking either the Jenkins Inn and Restaurant in Barre or the Vienna Inn in Southbridge, please visit www.purpleroofs.com.

photos: Jenkin’s Inn & The Konig Zimmer (King’s Room) at the Vienna Inn

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