When traveling south on Route 30 from Middlebury to Dorset for a mid-week getaway in the quaint New England town, I found myself winding through tiny towns and around lakes, past artisan galleries, general stores, and more barns and silos than I could count. Within a few miles of Dorset, I noticed Vermonters in the cars I was passing giving me the two-finger wave, something I hadn’t experienced since I spent the summers during college on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, an eight-mile by three-mile remote island. This two-finger wave is the sign of a welcoming community and super small town. Although a small gesture, I felt giddy as I pulled into Dorset, home to 2,000 residents in Bennington County.
As the speed limit dropped to 25, I couldn’t help by admire the row of gorgeous white homes lining the streets of Dorset, complete with porch swings, brick chimneys and lush gardens, that evoke quintessential New England charm. I parked my car on the sunny summer day, eager to put up my feet and unwind in the quiet, charming community that is Dorset. The Dorset Inn, with its stately facade, was a welcome sight.
The History of the Dorset Inn
The Dorset Inn is located on the green in Dorset and is Vermont’s oldest operating inn. It’s been bringing guests to Dorset and providing an upscale lodging experience since 1796 (over 220 years!). The property offered respite and a quiet, country setting for travelers from nearby cities like Boston and Albany. For the complete history and to see photos of the historical property throughout the years, spend a few moments in the library off to the left of the check-in area. There are many odes to simpler times and historic relics that show what a big role the Dorset Inn has played in the Dorset community for many, many years. Or read the full history of the Dorset Inn. By visiting, you’ll gain a sense of the rich history, as seen through the inn’s wide-planked pine floors, nooks and crannies for exploring, and many of the employees who have worked at the Dorset Inn for 15+ years.
The Accommodations at the Dorset Inn
The Dorset Inn offers over 25 different rooms and suites (a few of which are pet-friendly!) to choose from, all of which are unique in their decor and furnishings. The decorations are quite traditional, think floral patterns, dark wood, and unique wallpaper to match the historic, energy, and essence of the historic inn. I stayed in the Myrick Suite ($305 – $435) on the first floor at the back of the hotel. The room was huge, complete with ample windows, a stunning bathroom with a deep jacuzzi tub, and a sitting room with a fireplace to subdue the chill of the Vermont fall or winter. Rooms in general range from $165 to $435, which includes a hearty breakfast and local guidance on what to see and do.
Dining at the Dorset Inn
When staying at the Dorset Inn, whether for a weekend getaway or a full-blown vacation in Southern Vermont, it’s nice to have dining options on location, along with a full bar, that’s open every day the week. And the restaurant at the Dorset Inn isn’t your typical hotel restaurant. There is the casual Tavern, which was packed full of locals and visitors alike during my stay, and a more formal dining room. The Dorset Inn defines their cuisine as an “uncomplicated, bistro-style that demonstrates classic culinary techniques and traditions with regional influences.” Made with local ingredients, as is the norm in Vermont, the food airs to the comfort food side and showcases the unique four seasons in Vermont.
I was lucky enough to dine with the owner of The Dorset Inn and The Barrows House, Steven Bryant, to learn more about the property and the guests it serves. This also means I was treated to a full array of their culinary offerings, from juicy burgers to roasted turkey croquettes, smoked salmon, a crispy blue-fin crab cake, roasted garlic bulb raclette (um, yum!), duck breast, and a few other specials for the evening. All of the food was colorful and tasty. Although not mind-blowing in its inventiveness, the meal was a high-quality and flavorful from start to finish. Locals frequent the spot for the dedicated servers, a few of whom have been serving guests at the Dorset Inn for over 30 years!
For dessert, I was introduced to New Skete cheesecakes, which are made just over the border in New York State by nuns. I can’t even begin to describe just how amazing this cheesecake was… By way, the best I’ve ever had and a serious must if you’re in the region.
The Dorset Inn and sister restaurant The Barrows House often holds unique beer, wine, and pairing dinners, so be sure to check the events calendar on the site for upcoming special events at the inn.
Tips for Visiting The Dorset Inn
- Park and leave your car for a day or two when visiting The Dorset Inn. There’s enough to do in the tiny town of Dorset that you can explore on foot. Be sure to visit 3 Pears Gallery just across the green and Dorset Rising bakery (the same owners at the Dorset Inn and Barrows House) just up the road. Don’t miss the Dorset Theatre Festival in the summertime for just about the only nightlife in quaint Dorset or the iconic Dorset Marble Quarry just up the road!
- The Dorset Inn is an old property, full of history, charm and squeaky floors. If you’re into more modern accommodations and less floral wallpaper, check out The Barrows House, the sister property to the Dorset Inn.
- Before booking your vacation at the Dorset Inn, be sure to check their packages, from mid-week gourmet getaways to ski-and-stay packages.
- Don’t miss breakfast at the Dorset Inn, also available if you’re staying at The Barrows House. The Eggs Benedict that I enjoyed al fresco were some of the best I’ve had in recent past. The local bacon also is a winner.
- If you’re a light sleeper, ask for a room away from the back entrance or the staircase. There are many quite nooks, so be sure to ask for an accommodation to meet your sleeping habits.
The Dorset Inn
8 Church St, Dorset, VT 05251
In order to review of the Dorset Inn, I received a complimentary night stay and dinner at the historic inn. All of my opinions are strictly my own.