Cozy luxury at made-over Inn at Perry Cabin

New amenities, gourmet meals and lovely gardens shine at made-over Inn at Perry Cabin

November 12, 2012|By Kate Parham, For The Baltimore Sun

We were lucky; our drive into St. Michaels was, somehow, sans traffic, despite the fact that it was Friday evening and we surely were not alone in our desire to escape the city for a relaxing getaway on the Eastern Shore.

As we drove through the downtown, stopping to let families cross the street for a dinner cracking shellfish at the Crab Claw, we looked for the turnoff for the Inn at Perry Cabin, our destination for the weekend. Beneath an umbrella of large linden trees lining the driveway, we eagerly anticipated seeing the results of the inn's four-month, $2.7 million renovation.

The valet greeted us in front of the historic manor house, showing us inside, where more eager-to-please hotel staff appeared to be at our beck and call. I looked around the renovated library and morning room, beautifully appointed in luxurious fabrics and Victorian furniture. And then I saw the view: A perfectly groomed yard, filled with lush gardens and white lawn chairs where people sat swirling wine and watching the sunset, flanked the harbor.

We headed up to our room, a suite in calming sage and blue tones, complete with a large bathroom with a soaking tub and an expansive balcony overlooking the water. The inn offers guests 77 rooms, 38 of which have been renovated with new furniture and fixtures and amenities like iHome clock radios and iPod players.

After watching from our balcony as the sun set, we headed to dinner at the resort's restaurant, Sherwood's Landing.

We decided the best way to see what the ktichen could do would be to order the tasting menu, and our waiter's knowledge on wine persuaded us to add the wine pairings. It was the right decision.

The foie gras with potato and red pepper gelee was expertly paired with a sweet sauternes; but it was the perfectly seared scallop with pea coulis and unexpected golden raisins that sent our taste buds soaring. You could have cut our next course, a grilled beef tenderloin, with a spoon; it was that tender. By the end of our dinner, we were completely satisfied and looking forward to dining again at Sherwood's, which is also open for breakfast and lunch daily. Foodies looking for a diversion can sign up for the restaurant's cooking classes or wine and beer tastings. We learned that our server was teaching a class the next day about how to open champagne with a sabre. (A skill that might not come in handy that often, but could certainly add some pop to a party.)

The next morning, we ordered room service and enjoyed a perfectly simple breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee on our balcony. After a noisy thunderstorm the night before, the day was ripe for our garden tour.

Joanne Effinger, dubbed the "Queen of Green," has been the inn's gardener since 1994. We met her out front, where she explained that the grounds at The Inn at Perry Cabin have been cultivated for almost 200 years. Home to what is billed as the state's oldest holly tree, which serves as the official Christmas tree of St. Michaels, the inn has six gardens, including a kitchen garden. You'll find kitchen staff snipping herbs there in the morning, while Effinger tends to the lettuces, sweet peas, roses, and blueberries. Guests on their way to the 94,000-gallon heated infinity pool will find an arbor draped with wisteria and iceberg roses at the entryway.

As Effinger showed off her work, she motioned to the new beach the inn recently created, which offers kayaks for rent. It's near the new bocce and croquet courts. Perhaps the inn's most unusual new addition is an apiary featuring five hives housing more than 80,000 bees. The honey was harvested for the first time in September and is now incorporated into dishes at Sherwood's, including the honey-glazed lamb shank, honey waffles with lemon curd and Ms. Gussie's honey-lemon cookies. It will also be an added ingredient to treatments at the Linden Spa such as the "Linden Ritual," which infuses linden flowers, black birch, sage, blackberry leaves, eucalyptus and rosemary into a herbal wrap to detoxify.

The beautiful white-and-yellow blooms from the linden trees, which are prized for their medicinal purposes, are used in other treatments at the spa, including the "Five Flower Solace," which infuses five local flowers into white clay that is slowly massaged into the skin to moisturize and exfoliate.

During my visit to the spa, I opted for a traditional massage; it turned out to be one of the best I've had. The indoor and outdoor relaxation rooms and the detoxifying steam room helped, too. Don't miss the spa boutique, which features Perry Cabin logo wear from Vineyard Vines, botanical gifts, skin care products and handcrafted jewelry.

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