The Glen House Hotel: Eco-Friendly and Dog-Friendly
By Cathie Arquilla
“Fun–Real fun–Healthy exercise for red-blooded folks and pleasant companionship,” says a 1937 Snow Train brochure about Mt. Washington Valley, NH.
It’s still true today!
The Snow Train took Bostonians to the Mt. Washington Valley from 1932 to 1956. So, New Hampshire winter sports are nothing new to northern New Englanders, but it often isn’t on the shortlist for metro New Yorkers.
Why, because it’s a bit far, about six hours from New York City, and maybe it is not as tony as city folk would like. Then again, that is the appeal!
Mt. Washington Valley is well worth the effort to get there, no matter what state you’re from. Here are a few ideas about how to make it a great winter getaway, combining old-school winter tourism activities with a new place to stay.
Stay at The Glen House. This 68 room green hotel was completed in 2018 and is the 5th iteration of the hotel on this property, the first opened in 1852. Today’s Glen House heats and cools itself through its own geothermal system.
The elevators regenerate energy when the car is moving down, returning power to the building to use in other places. Architects strived to make every other aspect of the hotel eco-friendly as well.
Paws on the ground.
So you should feel plenty good about your footprint staying at The Glen house. But nothing compares to the feel-good vibes of paw prints on property. Dogs are allowed and welcome at The Glen House! Even if you don’t have a pooch, seeing them in the lobby and out on the trails makes you smile.
I’ll have a cocktail with that view
The WOW factor of The Glen House is the bar named “The Most Beautiful Bar in New Hampshire” by Architectural Digest. The floor to rooftop windows looking out on the Presidential Range, place you and your spirit in the heart of Mt. Washington Valley.
Gliding, wheeling, walking through a winter wonderland.
Just beyond the outdoor fire pit is Great Glen Trails. Here, there are 45 Kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiers and snowshoers to tree bathe and meadow gaze. There are also plenty of backcountry trails for fat bikers, ambitious Nordic skiers, and snowshoe runners who want to cover miles.
Going from trees to the tundra on Mt. Washington.
Another way to explore Mt. Washington that doesn’t require feet on the ground is the Mt. Washington SnowCoach, right next door to The Glen House. This is a 9 passenger van with enormous conveyor belt wheels, seemingly built for arctic explorers or moon landings.
It takes winter guests up Mt. Washington’s historic Auto Road, about 4,200 feet, on this 6,288-foot mountain, which is the highest peak in the Northeast. Wear goggles. You will want them when you get out at the turn-around point. This mountain has the highest surface wind speed ever observed and recorded by man.
White Mountain tourists have been enjoying family-owned Auto Road since 1906. The Glen House pays homage to it in their lobby with a 30-foot long sepia-toned photo mural of a summer auto race taken in 1954 up Mt. Washinton, with a woman behind the wheel!
Eastern slopes that impress.
There’s plenty of downhill skiing in the Valley, standouts are Attitach and Wildcat, both under the Peak Resorts umbrella recently purchased by Vail Resorts. Locals are hopeful that the influx of Vail capital will result in some infrastructure improvement. Some are worried that the native laid-back local attitude might give way to too much building and commercialization.
Authors Testimonial: Admittedly, I’m a bit of a western ski snob. I haven’t skied New Hampshire, and that was reason enough for me to go.
On my first run down Attitash’s Upper Saco trail, when we stopped for the group to catch up, I thought, oh, there’s probably just this bit, and then we’re down.
But “this bit” kept going… and going. Actually, it was five runs linked together. Attitash, which means “blueberry” in the Abenaki Native American language, skis really well. It’s a classic New England mountain with excellent (long) trails. One to enjoy for several days.
A special for skiing.
Happily, a two-night stay at the Glen House comes with a 2-day lift ticket to Wildcat Mountain and/or Attitash. Combine that with hoofing or gliding about on the Great Glen Trails, and you’ve rounded out a pretty great outdoorsy weekend!
For the love of a fashionable ski parka and a handsome guitar player.
But sometimes skiing isn’t all about the mountain. To dig deep into ski culture, you need a great folk-country bar and (for me) a skiwear shop to score some chic-slope fashion.
Get a little bit country at Wildcat Tavern. If you’re there on a Tuesday night, you’ve arrived on Hoot Night, a name that doesn’t do justice to the quality guitar picking and singing you’re going to hear.
The music, coupled with the ski-country decor, hearty eats, and IPAs, make for a fun night of companionship (or a chance meeting) in the romantic town of Jackson NH.
Spruce Hurricane is a mountain chic women’s boutique, fashion-forward enough to be at home in Aspen, Deer Valley, or Whistler. But native to Mt. Washington Valley Amber Dalton established Spruce Hurricane in North Conway Village 22 years ago.
It was an unexpected delight to find skiwear designer M. Miller, and leather goods Brighton in this cool little shop. Fabulous Italian fur boots and Minnetonka moccasins add to the collection, as well as a bunch of other “fashion meets the wilderness” finds. Amber’s mom was 50% Native American, and you can feel a spark of that in the things she buys for the store.
Eastern skiing just as it should be.
Mt. Washington Valley is just what you might expect from an eastern winter sports destination with nothing to prove. The town of Jackson and North Conway Village are so picturesque they could be the location for a Hallmark movie.
The Valley’s geographic interest with Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range is reason enough to visit any time of year.
However, considerable ski mountains (some part National Forestry), valleys replete with winter nostalgia, fun bars, restaurants, and shops…make it a great ski destination, and worth a few extra hours in the car, for this New Yorker!