Courtesy of Pickering House
When Patty and Peter Cooke bought the Pickering House more than five years ago, they just wanted to save the historic property in their hometown of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Combining Patty's experience running a renovation and construction firm and Peter's in commercial real estate management, they turned it into a true passion project, opening the Pickering House Inn in 2018.
Guests took notice of the heart that the Cooke family poured into the boutique hotel and the accolades started coming immediately — and this year, the hotel nabbed three prestigious spots in Travel + Leisure's 2022 World's Best Awards: No. 1 in best New England resort hotels, No. 1 in best continental U.S. resort hotels, and No. 4 in best hotels in the world.
"We are so honored that our guests took the time to share their experiences and that we are ranked among the most exceptional properties in the world," Patty told T+L. "A recent guest told us they have traveled all over the world and that a stay at the Pickering House Inn 'is nothing short of magnificent.' To us, reviews like this validate all we have worked for and is [a testament] to the dedication of our exceptional staff."
The 10-room luxury property — which has nine rooms (including a suite) for two guests and one suite for three — is located in what locals refer to as "The Yellow House," a 1813 home built for businessman Daniel Pickering, near Lake Winnipesaukee. And while the town of Wolfeboro may not be familiar, the celebrity names spotted in the area are, including Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, and Dwyane Wade.
Courtesy of Pickering House Inn Pickering House Inn, hotel living room, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
But what truly earns Pickering House Inn its raves is the thought and care that the Cookes have put into the smallest details, accumulated from their own wish list during their travels. The result is the idyllic balance between all modern amenities of a luxury resort (think: heated tiled bathroom floors and electronic showers controls) and a rustic bed-and-breakfast vibe (a gourmet breakfast in the Gathering Room is included with every stay).
"When Peter and I get away, we want 'the whole thing,'" Patty said, noting they look for "wonderful" space, food, activities, service, and the "comfort to do nothing." She continually credits her staff for the inn's success, but there's no doubt that it stems from the energy she sets forth.
"While we had the vision of what we wanted this experience of staying at the inn to be, what is so wonderful is what we consistently hear from our guests," she added. "We really think it is in fact all in the detail — and they all matter. The grounds, the location, the building design, the unique repurposing of historic materials, the exceptional food and again… our staff."
Beyond the breakfast for guests, the Cookes also put thought into what other food they might offer, and how to create additional culinary experiences. "From the start, we wanted a unique restaurant but one that did not take over what we consider the guests' space," she said. Thus, the Gathering Kitchen where breakfast is served is also the Pickering's Kitchen, where they serve spirits and snacks to guests from a bar top that's made from the wood of a 150-year-old maple tree that once stood on the property.
They have a separate Barn at Pickering House Inn, which hosts Innkeeper's Suppers, community dinners with a set menu on long farm tables for 64 guests, and a Restaurant Roadshow series, which started to help chefs recovering from pandemic closures, but has turned into a way to introduce New Hampshire chefs to more diners.
In the building next door is Pavilion, a well-lauded restaurant from executive chef Jonathan Hudak in another 1800s building. While the menu changes often, among Patty's favorite items are the smoked salmon deviled eggs and Jonathan's sourdough country bread, while Peter goes for Alek's hand-rolled potato gnocchi and the herb-roasted duck breast. And to top it all off, there's the house-made roasted banana ice cream.
The Cookes continue to grow Pickering House Inn, with more experiential offerings in the works. But when comes down to it, the Cookes simply want to give every guest the experience they're looking for. "We made the decision to include lots of space to hang out [with] porches, patios, the library, the living room, and the Gathering Kitchen," Patty said. "If you want to meet new friends and mingle, you can. If you want to be alone and read a good book, you can do that, too. [It's] the best of all worlds."