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To read about family-friendly fun near the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston, head over to the Sonesta Hotels blog!

My recent travel blogging for Sonesta brought me close to home, just up the road from Boston to Andover, Massachusetts and the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm fall weekend, and our friends who live in Andover were home for us to visit.

 

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The first order of business was to check into the hotel, which is an extended stay property conveniently located near 93 and a variety of businesses, but set off from the road making it a quiet place to relax.

There’s a real emphasis on guests feeling at home throughout Sonesta ES Suites, with welcoming areas for meeting and breakfast (which is hot, delicious, and included in your stay!) and suites that offer full kitchens and living rooms. Our one bedroom suite was larger than our last apartment! I loved that we had the ability to cook right in the suite or even just to grab a proper wine glass from the cabinet for a glass of wine.

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The setup of the rooms is perfect for family travel; not only can the kids be put to bed and the adults stay up, but two TVs in our room meant no fighting over the remote.

Since Sonesta ES Suites are often the home-away-from-home for many on business travel, a spacious work area is a welcome addition.

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We were excited to get out and explore Andover, which is  beautiful New England town with plenty of our favorite things, including hiking trails and places to eat.

Our first stop was the campus of Phillips Academy, which, on a perfect blue sky fall day, was very pretty and very classic New England. Right on campus is the cozy and historic Samuel’s, and since it was 5:00, we decided on cocktails and a cheese plate.

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My Old Fashioned was delicious, and a well-stocked cheese plate hit the spot and got us ready for exploring some more. The Addison Gallery was already closed for the day, and we decided to add it to our itinerary for our next visit to Andover.

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We took the daylight time to explore more of the campus and decided on the sanctuary for our hike the next day.

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Since we’re always up for a meal, we headed to the downtown of Andover, which is adorable, and again very New England. We’d heard of Elm Square Oyster Co. from a few people, and never ones to pass up oysters, grabbed bar seats and wine specials while we browsed the menu.

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My Gruener Veltliner was perfectly acidic, great pairing with the Pemaquid oysters we slurped down.  A homemade hot sauce made it all more delicious; I am a hot sauce fiend!

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We added the shrimp tacos and chilled lobster, which came in the most incredible lemony sauce, to our feast. The Gruener and the lemon sauce were heavenly together!

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Elm Square Oyster Co. is a definite must-visit if you are in Andover, and there were several other restaurants in the area I also wanted to try.

Andover, while to many thought of as just a Boston suburb, is a destination in itself, and it was nice to get away without driving forever or dealing with airport lines.

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My stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston was hosted; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Andover, Boston, cocktails, getaway, hotels, New England, oysters, Travel, wine

Our weekend in Camden, Maine was one I would love to repeat over and over. It involved great food, gorgeous New England scenery, and fun friends. The Hartstone Inn was our home-away-from-home for the weekend and is the coziest little retreat for a relaxing weekend. Our friends have been going for a few years, and when they invited us, we jumped at the chance. We booked way back in September, and when the weekend finally came in April, we were so excited.

Hartstone Inn

We booked the Manor Suite, which was spacious and beautiful, with two bedrooms, a big Jacuzzi soaking tub, a fireplace, and a little foyer. It was in the same house as one of the couples we were traveling with, so we were back and forth all weekend, hanging out for snacks and drinks in the living room in their suite and enjoying their sunny balcony. 

Hartstone Inn

 

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Our room included a half bottle of wine and chocolates and some cute welcome literature like a recipe for one of the inn’s delicious cocktails.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Downstairs, a sunny, enclosed porch welcomed us. Everywhere we looked there were beautiful little touches and cute details. I want the Hartstone Inn to come and decorate my house.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

 

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine 

The main house of the inn was home to reception and the dining room, along with some cozy little rooms for reading and relaxing. Our package included breakfast each day and a credit toward the tasting menu. Food is carefully prepared, creative, and focused on being fresh and local. And it was amazing.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Happy Hour featured $5 specialty cocktails and small bites to get us ready for a feast.

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One at the table, we started with a little seared tuna amuse, which we paired with bubbly and a toast to the weekend.

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While others made some substitutions, I went straight off of the tasting menu.

MAINE SEAFOOD TIMBALE with  citrus aioli, pickled red onions, rye toast points
SWEET POTATO, RUTABAGA AND GREEN APPLE SOUP with maple cream
SORBET – Maine blueberry
PAN SEARED BISTRO STEAK with roasted fingerling potatoes, blue cheese butter
BLUEBERRY-ALMOND SOUFFLÉ with amaretto crème anglaise

It all looked so good to me, and I ended up devouring every delicious bite.

seafood timbale 

You can’t go wrong with Maine seafood, and I love pickled onions. Tart, tangy, refreshing, and light, this dish was a perfect starter.

 

sweet potato soup

Temperatures had dropped during our walk around Camden, and this rich and velvety soup was a yummy way to also warm up and get a dose of veggies. My eating has been terrible lately, especially when I travel, and I appreciate any way to eat vegetables that also tastes really good!

Maine blueberry sorbet

Maine blueberry sorbet cleansed our palates and gave us a taste of summer.

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As it got darker, my photos did the food no justice. The bistro steak was perfectly cooked, and you really can’t go wrong with blue cheese butter and potatoes.

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And then there was dessert. Swoon. The soufflé was hot and fluffy, and the decadent sauce poured over as the top was cracked open was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Heavenly.

Hartstone Inn      

Breakfast at the inn was just as good. I only ate the first morning as I had some work to do the second day during breakfast hours. We started the morning with a cup of coffee in the parlor, enjoying the super cozy vibe. I rarely feel truly relaxed, and this was one of those moments.

Once at our breakfast table, I had a mimosa in hand and a fruity breakfast starter with a home baked scone followed by an egg strata with the best homemade chicken sausage ever.

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egg strata with homemade chicken sausage The Hartstone Inn Chef was not on property, but the food was some of the best I have had. I’ve heard that it’s even that much better when Chef is there. When not actually at the inn, you can find the Chef/owners leading culinary trips in Europe, which look like complete dream getaways.

If you’re looking for a lovely weekend away, I can’t recommend the Hartstone Inn enough. We’re looking forward to next year’s visit!

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Tags: Camden, Food, getaway, Maine, New England, Travel, travel blog, vacation

Spring has finally sprung, and when the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and the blue sea is sparkling, there is no better time to be in New England. There are so many day and weekend trips to take within three hours from Boston, and we satisfying our New England wanderlust with a few trips this season. This past weekend we had the chance to spend time in Newport with great friends in an amazing seaside house. Here are just a few favorite photos from a weekend in Newport.

Newport Sunset

Sunset in Newport on a clear, chilly Spring night

Eastons Beach Newport

 Dunking the toes in the Atlantic for the first time this season, at Easton’s Beach in Newport

 

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Al fresco drinks at a beautiful Newport home

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Fudge and saltwater taffy in one of Newport’s adorable shops

 

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anchor decor

Nautical touches everywhere – I am obsessed with coastal/nautical style and could outfit myself and my home solely from stores in Newport.

 

41 North

A beautiful “man cave” and gorgeous views at 41 North – click here for a recap of one of my past 41 North visits

41 North   Thames Street Newport

As I mentioned above, the shopping in Newport is really great, and Thames Street is a fun wander, with its lovely shops and old New England architecture. I love classic New England, and Newport is one of those places that embodies this. Our friends introduced us to a new-to-us oyster bar, which I will be sharing in another post. Our next coastal New England getaway is Mystic. I haven’t been since I was little and would love any recommendations!

Newport, RI

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Tags: getaway, Newport, Rhode Island, spring, Travel, weekend

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