We were really looking forward to this trip. A two-night stay at the Mount Washington Hotel, that historic luxury hotel nestled in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, of course (just a little factoid for those of you who live on Pluto. Or don’t think there’s life north of Boston.).
The ride only took two hours from Londonderry, but after a full workday for both my wife and me, it seemed like a lifetime. So I was more than pleased to finally spot the hotel’s sign through the foggy darkness and drive onto those grounds so familiar to us as a cross country skiing destination in the winter and a fun place to hang around in the summer. Their stately wide veranda, overlooking Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range, is the perfect place to enjoy lunch or just sit back with a good book. They’ve never seemed to mind that their hotel, a national historic site, is a popular day-time destination for many of us who’ve only dreamed of being able to stay there overnight – someday.
But this time, my wife and I were actually here to stay for two nights, using a package deal that we’d purchased through a silent auction at a local fundraiser. We were celebrating 28 years of “marital bliss” – a term you don’t really understand until you’ve been married for 28 years…
I pulled the car up to the regal front porch of the hotel and a chatty young porter brought my wife and our luggage into the lobby, while I parked the car. As I walked from the parking lot back up to the hotel, my tired mind began drinking in the beauty of this historic place. The shear size of this majestic building, its tall brass and glass doors, the giant chandeliers and Oriental rugs (or are those Asian rugs these days?) that filled the hotel’s mammoth lobby.
As I walked through the front doors, I followed the sound of my wife’s laugh to the front desk. She had been chatting with the porter, who was placing our luggage on a bellman cart and heading back outside. I looked at her, puzzled.
She pulled me aside. “We have a little problem,” she said. I raised a tired eyebrow. “We’re at the wrong hotel.”
“Huh?” was all I could muster. That tired mind of mine ran through a series of questions. Did they build another Mt. Washington Hotel since we were here last time? Were we supposed to stay at one of their other lodgings on the grounds? Could we blame the hotel for messing up our reservation? But perhaps I just wasn’t hearing her words correctly.
My wife continued. “This gift certificate we got at the auction is for the White Mountain Hotel, not the Mt. Washington Hotel. The girl at the front desk here says a lot of people confuse the two. I’m not sure how we confused them…”
I wasn’t sure either. I looked around at the chandeliers, the huge grandfather clock, those Oriental rugs, the comfortable overstuffed furniture…and sighed. “Well, maybe next time we’ll stay longer, huh?” And we just laughed and followed the porter out the door, dispensing a tip for our stupidity.
An hour later, after a call to the White Mountain Hotel for directions, and through a foggy night and a foggier brain, we arrived at the right hotel. In its own right, the White Mountain Hotel is a beautiful resort nestled in a rather remote part of North Conway under Cathedral Ledge. It’s funny how places that are so easy to find in the daylight are next to impossible to locate when the sun goes down. But we did find it. And we did belong there. And they were none the wiser about our mistake – we actually felt pretty smart, as they received three more calls from lost patrons while we were checking in. We were at least on intellectual parity with them. Maybe we’ll start a club.
Our little mini-vacation at the White Mountain Hotel & Resort turned out to be a great experience. The dining room waitress was even quite understanding when I accidentally knocked over my drink at dinner. And when I squirted the vinegar across the table, while aiming for my salad. The staff called my wife ma’am and called me nothing, which is better than “hey, you”. They seemed to know that we were using a gift certificate that included free breakfast – at least they never gave us a check at breakfast. But maybe everyone there was on a midweek, early season discount.
And my wife and I enjoyed our brief 28th anniversary get-a-way. We did a little hiking. A bit of that dreaded “shopping”. Even took the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, where, as we looked down into the valley at the Mount Washington Hotel, we commented that maybe we should stay there someday. When we actually have a reservation, of course…
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