By Jeff & Stephanie Sylva
Distinguished as “The Oldest Summer Resort in America,” the town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, attracted summer visitors primarily because of its location on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake. But this attractive New England town has grown to become a popular four-season vacation destination, often being referred to as “The Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee.” And within this “jewel” of a town, you will discover another jewel—The Pickering House Inn.
Opened in 2018, the inn proudly reflects Wolfeboro’s history as a resort town. The building was constructed in 1813 by John Pickering and then purchased by his brother Daniel two years later to serve as his private home. For over 40 years, the stately building remained the home of one of Wolfeboro’s most prominent citizens and then continued to be a local historic landmark for generations.
By 2015 the Yellow House, as it was affectionately called, had fallen into a state of disrepair and was threatened with demolition to make way for commercial development. Into the picture stepped Wolfeboro residents Peter and Patty Cooke. The Cookes had a vision of creating a distinctive inn and a special place for social gatherings. Committed to the principle of preserving a strong sense of community, they devoted more than two years to painstakingly renovating Pickering House. The exquisite quality and attention to detail are evident throughout the inn. In 2019 the Pickering House Inn was selected by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 30 hotels in New England. The inn was also named to the National Register of Historic Inns in 2019.
Today Pickering House Inn is a unique blend of the relaxed convenience and intimacy of a bed & breakfast, the charm of a historical property, and the luxury and personal service of an elegant boutique hotel. Despite the property’s age, modern comforts are not sacrificed. The inn’s spacious ten rooms each have unique décor (some of the room’s headboards are repurposed original doors) and include upscale amenities such as luxurious bathrooms with heated tile floors and electronic shower controls. The inn’s common gathering spaces invite guests to quietly relax with a book and a glass of wine in The Living Room, on the wrap-around porch or by the outdoor fire pit; or commune with new friends over a board game in The Library or gathered around the counter in Pickering’s Kitchen. A variety of packages are offered seasonally, including the Chef’s Table Wine and Dinner Series, the Museum Loop Package, and the Romantic Getaway.
Like many B&B’s, a complimentary gourmet breakfast is prepared and served each morning by Chef Jonathan Hudak and his wife Chef Aleks in Pickering’s Kitchen. Hudak employs his New American-style cuisine to a range of dining offerings that go well beyond the typical offerings. In addition to evening light bites, snacks, and beverages, a variety of exceptional dining opportunities are periodically offered in Pickering’s Kitchen or The Barn at Pickering House, where the Hudaks have presented a number of sold-out Chef’s Table Dinners. These three-course dinners, presented nearly every week, are popular with community residents as well as guests. Main courses have included Red-Wine Braised Lamb Shank, Porcini-rubbed Pork Tenderloin, and Herb-Roasted Tenderloin of Beef.
The Hudaks’ gastro skills will soon be utilized in the Cookes’ next undertaking—The PAVILION, a restaurant named in honor of The Pavilion Hotel, which was built and operated by Daniel Pickering and his son-in-law. The restaurant, set to open in the fall of 2020, will be the centerpiece of the transformation of the Avery Building, which is adjacent to The Pickering House.
Be sure to take a short walk into downtown Wolfeboro for other dining options. One dining choice we recommend is O Bistro at The Inn on Main. Chef Brandon says that he and his staff are looking to “make classics new again.” A meatloaf entrée made with American Kobe Beef with New Hampshire Mushrooms is one take on this theme. Another is the Bourbon BBQ Turkey Tips. A couple of house favorites are Beef Short Rib Stroganoff and Seafood Carbonara.