The Old Tavern at Grafton was perfect in almost every way. The town is what one imagines when they think of a quaint Vermont town. It is wonderful for wandering around, and has a few interesting things to do, such as a museum and art galleries. The atmosphere in the inn is exactly what you would imagine when thinking of the New England B&B. It feels authentic, and not overdone or tacky.
The people who work in the inn have managed to find the right balance of being extremely friendly and helpful but not overwhelming their guests. Too often at an inn, you feel like your privacy is being invaded and you are being pestered. At the Old Tavern, people were always available if you needed them, but no one was pouncing on you.
The lobby is comfortable and inviting, and there is a nice library with some books. The library and the breakfast room all have several daily newspapers, both local and national. I was also surprised that there was elevator, which you don’t typically find in these types of facilities.
Our room was wonderful and spotless. We stayed in Room 15. There was a huge soaking tub where my husband relaxed for 45 minutes. The mattress seemed to have been new and was slightly softer than I would prefer, but my husband thought it was perfect, and we both slept very well. The bedding was of exceptionally high quality. The room was a little small, but it was cozy and comfortable and we didn’t feel cramped. There were two comfortable chairs. There was a lot of interesting reading material in the room, including a book of the history of Grafton, which was fun to read. There was complimentary cheese, crackers, and apple in the room.
There is a swimming pond across the street, which we waded in (it was too cold to swim). It appears to be a natural or spring-fed pond which they formed into a pool using rock and some concrete. I’m sure that it would be delightful on a hot summer day. It has a gravel bottom, so you might want to wear water sandals. It was very nice and quaint, but I recommend being careful if you use the stone steps to enter it. They were covered with algae and EXTREMELY slippery. There are a couple of chairs next to the pond, and it was very relaxing to just sit there.
The breakfast was delicious, and the service was excellent. I have never had such a good breakfast included in the price of my room – you would pay $15-20 for that breakfast at a nice restaurant. We started out with warm apple scones, which were amazing. I ordered eggs Florentine, which came with a bowl of fresh fruit, and got two large poached eggs on English muffins, with spinach and mushrooms. My husband had an omelet, with home fries, bacon and toast. They also had quiche, pancakes, French toast, granola, and oatmeal. The meal included coffee, tea, and juice.
The only sour spot was the pub, which is in the barn. The service was horrendous. We ordered soup and the cheese plate for our appetizers, thinking that those were dishes that would come quickly. It took half an hour for our appetizers to come, and a full hour for our entrees. I understand that our waitress can’t control how long it takes for the kitchen to prepare the food, but she had a terrible attitude. There were several tables, all tired of waiting for their food, and all of the tables had finished their drinks and were waiting for her to ask if they wanted another. If she didn’t wait so long after people had finished their drinks to get them another one, they might order more, which would translate to more profit. I would probably have had 4 beers, but I only had 2, because it took 15 minutes after I was finished with each one before she asked me if I wanted another. And she made a disrepectful comment about how quickly I finished one. At one point the bartender heard my husband and I talking about getting another drink, and she offered to bring us one, which was nice. It didn’t help that our waitress was sitting at a table posting on Facebook while everyone was sitting there waiting for her to come check on them. If she is going to do that, she should at least point the computer screen in a direction where we couldn’t see it.
At one point a couple came in and the waitress asked them if they were there for dinner. They said no, they wanted drinks. She told them to go to the bar to order their drinks. They then asked if they could be seated and order drinks from her, but she told them they had to go to the bar if they weren’t ordering food. Perhaps this is their policy, but it didn’t seem very accommodating. It was particularly frustrating to watch because the couple didn’t speak English very well, and you could tell they were very confused about what they were supposed to do. Having travelled in other countries, I know how hard it is when you go someplace and you don’t know what to do. Unhelpful staff makes you feel even more uncomfortable.
The kitchen is in a different building (the main inn), which might be part of the problem, and a bell would ding whenever there was food to be picked up. Each time the bell sounded, the waitress sighed an enormous, annoyed sigh before she left to go get the food. I asked the waitress what kinds of cheese were on the cheese plate, and she was nice about going to ask someone, but she came back and just told us that there was a sheep, a cow, etc. Normally when you order a cheese plate, you receive written or verbal information about the specific kind, texture, sheep/goat/cow, and where it was made. That way if you want to purchase some, you know what kind they are. That would have been helpful, since they do sell their own cheese in a nice little shop. We assumed that they were all Grafton cheeses, but weren’t certain.
The food was very good. We had potato leek soup, the cheese plate, steamed mussels (excellent), and burger, which was made of beef, elk, and pork. We enjoyed the burger very much, although we had ordered medium well and it was more medium rare. The fries were wedges - 1/8 of the potato with the skin on - and were great.
One little quirk – they emailed me a survey asking me how my stay was 3 days before my reservation. It put me into a little panic that perhaps I had made reservations for the wrong night, but everything was fine.
All in all, we had a relaxing and romantic stay. I’m giving it 5 stars even though the service at the pub was terrible, because this inn is near the top of the list of the many places I’ve stayed across 4 continents. We definitely plan to return, although we will eat in the main inn (where the dining room is located) instead of the pub. Highly recommended!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Since 1801, this historic inn has been providing visitors with the finest comforts and amenities in a quintessential Vermont setting. The inn features 45 individually appointed rooms, including seven suites and four guest homes. The award-winning Old Tavern Restaurant features locally inspired American cuisine; open nightly for dinner. Pub menu at Phelps Barn Pub. Member of Historic Hotels of America, Distinctive Inns of New Englands. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grafton Hotel Grafton
- Old Tavern Grafton
- Old Tavern Hotel Grafton